Here’s How Long Your Fresh Produce Will Really Last

Wondering how long your produce will last, and how to tell when fresh fruits and vegetables have gone bad? Our storage guide is here to help.

Fresh producePhoto: lenetstan/Shutterstock

How long produce lasts—and how to keep it fresh for as long as possible

You’ve just arrived home from the farmers’ market or grocery store laden with bags full of plump blueberries, juicy peaches and bright leafy greens, ready to be made into fantastic meals. Keep your bounty fresh with our handy food storage guide.

We’ll outline the shelf life of common fruits and vegetables so you can smartly plan meals to eat your most fragile foods first. (No more finding slimy lettuce in the crisper drawer at the end of the week!) We’ll also share storage tips to help preserve your food longer and in its best condition. Finally, we share signs that your food is at peak ripeness so you can enjoy that fleeting summer peach or crispy winter cauliflower at its glory. Want more? Read up on our secret tricks to keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer.

ProduceHow Long It LastsTips for Fresh Produce
Apples4-8 weeks in the fridgeIt’s OK if your apple has a few brown spots. Those can be cut away. But if it looks wrinkled or feels mushy, it’s time to toss.
Avocado4-7 days at room temperaturePeel off the stem. If the skin underneath is green, the avocado is ripe. It’ll also give in to light pressure when squeezed.
Bananas2-5 days at room temperatureBananas are best when they’re yellow and have just started to develop brown spots. A ripe banana will be easy to peel.
Blueberries1-2 weeks in the fridgeMost blueberries you get at the store will be ready to gobble down. They’ll have a blue-gray colour. If they start to feel moist or look mouldy, it’s time to toss.
Broccoli7-14 days in the fridgeYour broccoli should have a rich, green colour. It’s best to eat when the stems feel firm, not limp.
Carrots3-4 weeks in the fridgeCarrots are past their prime when they feel limp or have developed a white, grainy look. If you bought carrots with their greens on, it’s best to cut the greens off and store separately.
Cucumbers1 week in the fridgeYour cucumber should have a bright and even green colour throughout. Discard if it has any sunken areas, is yellow or has wrinkly skin.
Garlic3-6 months at room temperatureGarlic in its prime will feel firm and have an off-white colour. If it’s grown any sprouts, peel them away before cooking. Pass up garlic that has turned tan or looks wrinkly.
Iceberg and romaine lettuce7-10 days in the fridgeIf your greens look discoloured, feel soggy or have a rotten smell, it’s time to discard.
Lemons3-4 weeks in the fridgeHealthy lemons will be bright yellow and slightly firm to the touch. It’s overripe if it has soft spots, dark blotches or is oozing juice.
Onions2-3 months at room temperatureA good onion will look clean and feel firm. Moisture and soft spots can be a sign it’s gone bad.
Oranges3-4 weeks in the fridgeJuicy oranges will look bright and feel slightly firm to the touch. Check to see that there are no soft spots.
Peaches1-3 days at room temperatureRipe peaches will have a deep golden colour. They’ll also wrinkle slightly around the stem and give in a bit when gently squeezed.
Potatoes3-5 weeks in the pantryA good potato will feel firm and smell like earth. It’s OK if it has small sprouts, but if the sprouts are longer than a few centimeters, your potato may have gone bad.
Strawberries3-7 days in the fridgeFragrant and bright strawberries are the best to eat. Discard if there is any sign of mould.
String beans3-5 days in the fridgeThe beans should be slender and firm without any visible seeds. You’ll know they’ve gone bad if they’ve turned limp or moist.
Tomatoes1 week at room temperatureReady-to-eat tomatoes will feel firm when slightly squeezed and seem slightly heavy compared with their size.
Watermelon7 to 10 days at room temperatureTap on the side. If the melon sounds hollow, it’s good to eat. Also, it should feel firm when pressed but not hard as a rock.
Whole mushrooms7-10 days in the fridgeIf the mushroom feels sticky or slimy, it’s bad. Whole mushrooms will keep longer than sliced mushrooms.
Zucchini4-5 days in the fridgeYour summer squash should be firm yet slightly flexible and have glossy skin. If the zucchini looks gray, it may be overly ripe.

No matter what-or when-you decide to cook, it’s best to err on the conservative side when judging whether food is safe. Trust your instincts. If something looks or smells off, your best bet is to toss (or compost).

Next, find out the foods you’re ruining by storing in the fridge.

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Originally Published on Taste of Home