How to Store Fresh Vegetables

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
Harvested Vegetables

Knowing how to maximize the shelf life of fresh veggies will save you time and money in the long run by helping you avoid excessive trips to the grocery store. Storing fresh vegetables properly also helps preserve the flavor, texture, and color of these nutrient-packed foods. Having a food storage chart for veggies handy makes it simple to determine how long you can safely store specific vegetables and where to keep them.

Vegetable Storage Chart

Use the chart below, which contains information provided by the University of Nebraska - Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the University of Georgia, as a guideline to determine how long you can safely store fresh veggies.

Vegetable

Where to Store It

Shelf Life

Storage Method

Artichokes

Refrigerator

1 week

Crisper drawer

Asparagus

Refrigerator

2 to 3 days

Sealed container in crisper drawer

Carrots

Refrigerator

2 weeks

Crisper drawer

Beets

Refrigerator

2 weeks

Crisper drawer

Corn

Refrigerator

1 day

Crisper drawer

Lettuce and salad greens

Refrigerator

1 week

Sealed container in crisper drawer

White potatoes

Room temperature

1 to 2 weeks

Cool dry cupboard or pantry

Sweet potatoes

Room temperature

1 to 2 weeks

Cool dry cupboard or pantry

Winter squash

Room temperature

1 week

Cool dry cupboard or pantry

Dry onions

Room temperature

1 week

Cool dry cupboard or pantry

Rutabagas

Room temperature

1 week

Cool dry cupboard or pantry

Beets

Refrigerator

2 weeks

Crisper drawer

Parsnips

Refrigerator

2 weeks

Crisper drawer

Turnips

Refrigerator

2 weeks

Crisper drawer

Radishes

Refrigerator

2 weeks

Crisper drawer

Broccoli

Refrigerator

3 to 5 days

Sealed container in crisper drawer

Brussels Sprouts

Refrigerator

3 to 5 days

Sealed container in crisper drawer

Green peas

Refrigerator

3 to 5 days

Sealed container in crisper drawer

Green onions

Refrigerator

3 to 5 days

Sealed container in crisper drawer

Lima beans

Refrigerator

3 to 5 days

Sealed container in crisper drawer

Rhubarb

Refrigerator

3 to 5 days

Sealed container in crisper drawer

Summer squash

Refrigerator

3 to 5 days

Crisper drawer

Mushrooms

Refrigerator

3 to 5 days

Sealed container in crisper drawer

Cauliflower

Refrigerator

1 week

Sealed container in crisper drawer

Cabbage

Refrigerator

1 week

Sealed container in crisper drawer

Celery

Refrigerator

1 week

Sealed container in crisper drawer

Cucumbers

Refrigerator

1 week

Crisper drawer

Green beans

Refrigerator

1 week

Sealed container in crisper drawer

Peppers

Refrigerator

1 week

Crisper drawer

Tomatoes

Refrigerator

1 week

Crisper drawer

Eggplant

Refrigerator

3 to 4 days

Crisper drawer

Garlic

Refrigerator

1 week

Crisper drawer

Spinach

Refrigerator

1 to 2 days

Sealed container in crisper drawer

Okra

Refrigerator

2 to 3 days

Sealed container in crisper drawer

Parsley

Refrigerator

1 week

Sealed container in crisper drawer

How to Refrigerate Veggies

Knowing how to refrigerate your veggies properly helps maximize freshness for longer time periods. Vegetable with the peel still attached can be stored without a container. However, once you peel or cut your veggies, store them in an airtight bag (such as a zip lock bag) or other type of airtight container. Use the chart above as a guideline for safe storage times, but when it doubt throw veggies out to avoid potential food borne illness.

How to Freeze Fresh Vegetables

You can freeze fresh vegetables if you won't be eating them within the allotted expiration-date time period. Use frozen food storage tips to get you headed in the right direction. Be sure to pack veggies in freezer safe containers prior to freezing (such as vacuum-sealed bags, covered baking dishes, zipped air-tight bags, or aluminum foil) to lower the chance of freezer burn and spoilage. Most veggies can safely be frozen (when sealed properly) for time periods of 8 to 12 months, according to the University of Georgia.

What About Organic Vegetables?

If you're buying organic vegetables, you may notice they spoil more quickly than non-organic produce, suggests the University of Minnesota Extension. This could be due to the lack of wax or preservatives found in some regular fresh produce. So when using the chart above to determine how long it's safe to store fresh veggies, you may want to subtract a day or two from the suggested produce shelf life if your fresh veggies are organic.

When to Throw Veggies Out

Knowing when it's time to toss vegetables (even if they haven't reached their max shelf life) will help prevent you and your family from getting sick. It's time to throw out veggies if they turn brown, have a foul odor, begin to wilt, look or feel slimy, the skin begins to wrinkle, or veggies taste or smell a little "off."

How to Store Fresh Vegetables