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03.04.2020

Storing food properly

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Fruit & vegetables

Every food, be it fruit, dairy produce or meat, needs to be stored differently. The shelf life of any food is affected by its environment, including the temperature and humidity. In other words, whether you should store your food in the cellar, fridge or simply at room temperature will depend on the product itself. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few pointers for you here for storing fruit and vegetables, so that you can hold off any wilting, shrivelling and brown spots for as long as possible. In addition, you’ll find that you’re throwing away less food, going shopping less often, saving money and enjoying fresh, tasty fruit and vegetables for longer.

Fruit

Fruit will keep for longer if it has undamaged skin, no bruises and the stem hasn’t already gone brown and dry. If you’re going to use bought fruit right away, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the odd bruise on a pear or a tear in apple skin; they will taste just as good regardless.You can distinguish between the following types of fruit:

  • ripening fruits, e.g. pears, apples, bananas, figs, avocados, mangos, kiwis, nectarines, peaches, apricots, pineapple and plums
  • non-ripening fruits, e.g. raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, grapes, cherries, watermelon, citrus fruits, pomegranate

So what can be stored together?

Another thing: certain fruits give off a colourless and odourless natural gas called ethylene. This gas accelerates the ripening process of some fruit. This means that if you want to make sure that your fruit keeps for as long as possible, you should store any gas-emitting varieties separately from the rest.

  • Examples of sensitive fruits: pears, bananas, mangos, watermelon, citrus fruits and kiwis
  • Examples of gas-emitting fruits: apples, mangos, bananas, nectarines, honeydew melons, apricots, peaches, plums and avocados

Fruit basket, cellar or refrigerator?

Generally speaking, fruits that have been imported from warmer parts of the world do not like the cold, whereas locally grown fruits can handle it fairly well.

  • Fruit basket: tropical fruits, core fruit like apples and pears (large quantities keep particularly well in a cellar), stone fruit like nectarines and peaches, citrus fruits
  • Refrigerator: berries and stone fruit
  • Cellar: large quantities of core fruit

Tip: Ideally, you should take fruit out of the fridge half an hour before eating it. This will allow the flavours to develop more, so it simply tastes better. 

Vegetables

First things first: fruit and vegetables can end up smelling not very nice at all. You should always store them separately!

There’s a reason it’s called the vegetable drawer!

Vegetables grown in this country will feel quite at home in the fridge. This makes it easy to work out what needs to be chilled: if it comes from here, then it belongs in the vegetable drawer. :-) Fresh spinach, lamb’s lettuce, celery, spring onions, beetroot, cucumber, fennel, various kinds of cabbage and broccoli all love the coldness of the fridge. These vegetables should be well packaged to prevent them from drying out. Tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and courgettes also prefer to be stored in cooler places, ideally at around 13°C. It’s best to leave tomatoes to go it alone: they release large quantities of ethylene, so they should be kept away from other vegetables.Vegetables like potatoes and chicory like dark, cool places like cellars. If you’re also keeping apples in your cellar, make sure that they’re stored separately from your vegetables. The ethylene released by the apples will speed up the ripening process for the vegetables, even though storing them in the cellar is absolutely fine.

Washing and cutting: what’s right?

Lay off the washing! If you wash fruit or vegetables before storing them away, they’ll be far too moist, which will cause them to spoil more quickly. Fruit and vegetables should only be washed just before eating or cooking. As such, it makes sense to store potatoes in their ‘earthy’ state – potatoes like this won’t have been cleaned yet, so they will keep for longer.Some vegetables also stay fresh if you ‘give them a haircut’. Carrots, beetroot, radishes and the like keep for longer if their green parts are removed before they are stored away. It’s also worth removing tomatoes from their vine stems. Green parts of vegetables draw water from them, causing them to go limp sooner. Spring onions will also keep twice as long in the fridge if you cut off their green lengths.Tip: Remove the green parts from the spring onions and use them in cooking. You can then stand the onions with their roots in a glass of water. Treat them to fresh water every day, and you’ll have some fresh green shoots after a couple of weeks. :-) Good luck storing your fruit and veg the right way, and enjoy cooking and eating it when the time comes!

© NGV mbH, Photo: TLC Fotostudio
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