Refrigerator or Counter Top-Where to Store Fresh Fruits
TEXARKANA, Ark. –
It can be so confusing. You purchase fresh fruit from the farmers market, roadside stand or grocery store and bring them home; now you need to decide where and how to store them. Are they to be stored in the refrigerator or on the countertop?
We know that according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is recommended we eat between one and one half and 2 cups of fruit each day, depending upon age and activity level. If we don’t store them properly, how do we maintain maximum flavor without needing to throw them away?
Fresh fruits purchased from farmers markets and roadside stands are picked fresh and are ready to consume after purchase. However, those purchased from the grocery store are likely picked before they are fully ripe and shipped to the store so they can survive the shipping process.
There are some fruits that will continue to ripen and should not be refrigerated until they are mature. If they are refrigerated before they are ripe, it could cause them to lose flavor and have a mealy texture. These fruits include apricots, avocados, bananas, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, and tomatoes.
If you want to speed up the ripening process, you can place the fruit in a single layer in a large paper bag, fold the top down and check it every day to see if it has become ripe. Once fully ripened it can be eaten and the remainder refrigerated for safety.
Some fruits are extremely perishable and must be refrigerated as soon as they are brought home. These fruits will not continue to ripen after they have been picked. Do not leave these on the counter at room temperature as it will speed the decay process. These delicate fruits include most of your berries, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and strawberries. In addition, your cherries, grapes, pomegranates, rhubarb and tangerines decay quickly without refrigeration.
There are some fruits that do not have a preference on where they are stored and can be left at room temperature or stored in the refrigerator without any harm to the quality or taste of the fruit. These fruits will not ripen after picking. These are the ones you might store in a fruit basket on the counter. They include apples, clementines, lemons, limes, oranges, and watermelon.
Before preparing or eating fresh fruits, rinse them under clean, running water; rub fruits briskly with your hands or produce brush to remove dirt and surface microorganisms. Dry with a clean cloth or paper towel after rinsing.
Once fruits are cut, they must be stored in the refrigerator immediately for food safety reasons. This includes fruits bought at the store that are pre-cut or peeled. Once cut or peeled, they should be refrigerated within 2 hours. If it is left at room temperature for more than 2 hours, throw it away.
When shopping for fruits, look for those with no bruising, cut, or torn skin, since this can cause them to spoil faster. Those that are excessively soft are at the end of their lifespan. The fruit should be firm but not rock hard.
Always keep fruits separate from raw meat, poultry and seafood while shopping, preparing, or storing. You do not want to risk cross contamination of fruit since it will not likely be cooked.
Knowing whether to store your produce on the counter or in the refrigerator will help you avoid costly waste from spoilage and throwing away bad produce.
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Miller County Extension office has information on storing fruits and vegetables. Click here for the storage chart for fruits and vegetables, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call 870-779-3609, or visit us in the courthouse. You can also get great tips on facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaHaleyHadley, and twitter at @MillerCountyFCS or visiting our website at uaex.edu/miller
By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.