How to store vegetables

10 May 2022
Here at Access, we’re in the storage business. Whilst you can’t store vegetables and perishable goods with us, many of our staff (and customers, based on our conversations) are also keen home cooks. Storing vegetables properly saves fridge space and goes hand-in-hand with maintaining a tidy kitchen.

An image of fruit and vegetables in a fridge for our article on how to store vegetables

We’ve collected our employees’ wisdom and reviewed expert advice to put together a comprehensive guide on how to store vegetables to maximise their freshness and storage life.

General tips on how to store vegetables in fridge

Each type of vegetable has a unique set of storage requirements (read on for the specifics) but in general, there are a few rules that apply to all of them. For a start, keep fruit and vegetables separate.

Many fruits slowly release a harmless gas called ethylene as they ripen, and this causes other produce nearby to ripen faster. This can result in vegetables ripening and going bad more quickly – the opposite of what you want if they’re in the refrigerator.

Another key tip is to attend to your vegetable drawer regularly. Any mouldy veg should be thrown out (or composted, ideally) as soon as possible, as mould can quickly spread.

Beside rotting, the other factor that affects how to store vegetables in the fridge is drying out. Most foods need to be stored at a lower humidity, but vegetables prefer a humid environment. Many vegetables will last longer if stored alongside a damp paper towel.

Many refrigerators have a vegetable section or “crisper drawer,” which has a different level of humidity than the rest of the shelves. This is designed to prolong the storage life of your vegetables, so be sure to use it!

Generally, vegetables last longest when they’re kept the same way they grow – once you cut into them, they’ll start to go off faster. Keep veg like cabbages and broccoli whole until you’re ready to cook them.

How to store asparagus

Keep asparagus in the refrigerator in an unsealed bag. To keep it fresh for longer, try storing it woody-end-down in a cup with a few centimetres of water and a plastic bag over the top.

Once cooked, store asparagus in an airtight container, plastic bag, or aluminium foil. They should last for up to five days – but they’ll start to smell funny when they’ve gone off.

Need some suggestions of how you can use all your vegetables for meals? Take a look at our five quick and easy lunch recipes for busy people!

How to store bell peppers

Keep bell peppers in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. They don’t need to be kept in a bag and they should last for up to two weeks. Once cooked, store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. They should last for around four days.

How to store broccoli

Keep broccoli in the vegetable section of your fridge in an unsealed bag. To prolong its storage life, add a damp paper towel to the bag. Broccoli is also a vegetable that behaves well in the freezer.

How to store cabbage

Keep cabbage in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Cabbage lasts longest when stored in a plastic bag. The outer leaves will go off first, but the inner part is often unaffected, so be sure to check before throwing a seemingly old cabbage out. Cabbage often lasts upwards of a week in the fridge.

Check out our must have picnic accessories!

How to store cauliflower

Keep cauliflower in the refrigerator in a loosely sealed plastic bag. To make it last longer, you can add a damp paper towel. Sometimes, cauliflower sprouts green stems. These are safe to eat and do not mean that it has gone off.

How to store carrots

Keep carrots in a cool, dry place. They last longer in the refrigerator but can last for around 5 days outside of it. If you are refrigerating them, store them in the vegetable drawer and do not peel them until you’re ready to use them. To avoid the carrots going soft, you can store them submerged in water or in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel.

How to store celery

Keep celery in the refrigerator, ideally attached to the head and loosely wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminium foil. They will remain fresh for around two weeks. Cut celery stalks can be kept submerged in water to prevent them from drying out.

Has all this vegetable talk got you hungry? We have five summer meal ideas you have to try!

An image of fruit and vegetables in food storage bags for our article on how to store vegetables

How to store cucumbers

Keep cucumbers in the refrigerator crisper drawer. Unlike other vegetables, cucumbers aren’t at risk of drying out, and prefer a dry environment. Place a dry paper towel in a loosely sealed plastic bag along with them to prolong their storage life.

How to store garlic

Keep garlic in a cool, dry place, ideally in a bowl rather than a bag. It does not need to be refrigerated. Keep the skin on and the cloves attached to prevent it from drying out. Peeled individual cloves of garlic also freeze reasonably well, as does chopped or minced garlic.

How to store lettuce

Keep lettuce in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag. Keep the leaves attached for as long as possible. To store detached leaves, dry them and place them in a loosely sealed plastic bag or container with a damp paper towel.

Located in Birmingham? Try Access Self Storage Birmingham Central or Access Self Storage Erdington!

How to store mushrooms

Keep mushrooms in the fridge, either in their original container or in a loosely sealed paper bag. Mushrooms will last for about a week in the fridge. Fresh mushrooms do not freeze well, but they can be frozen once cooked.

How to store onions

Keep onions in a cool, dry place, preferably in the dark. They do not need to be refrigerated. Do not keep them in a bag, as airflow helps keeps them fresh. To store part of an onion, cover it with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge. You cannot freeze fresh onions, but cooked onions can be frozen.

How to store potatoes

Keep potatoes in a cool, dark, dry place. They do not need to be refrigerated. Airflow is important to preventing potatoes from becoming mushy or beginning to rot, so do not keep them in a bag. You cannot freeze potatoes.

The question of how to store peeled potatoes is debated by cooks – although all agree that peeling them fresh at the time of cooking is preferred. Some suggest storing them in the refrigerator submerged in lightly salted water, and others say that they are best in a bag with a damp towel. In either case, they will only last about 24 hours once peeled.

The amount of plastic that comes with purchasing vegetables from a supermarket is a lot! Here’s how you can reduce plastic at home.

How to store tomatoes

If you are planning to eat the tomatoes soon, it is best to store them on the countertop in a bowl where it has airflow and is not exposed to direct light. Storing tomatoes in the refrigerator prolongs their life, but it can harm their texture and flavour. You cannot freeze tomatoes.

How to store spinach

Keep spinach in a loosely sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. To make spinach leaves last longer, add a damp paper towel to the bag. You can also freeze spinach – it won’t be the same when it defrosts, but it’s fine if you are planning on adding it to a sauce or other cooked dish.

How to store sweet potatoes

Keep sweet potatoes in a cool, dry, dark place, ideally with good ventilation. In the right conditions, they will last for up to five weeks. Do not refrigerate uncooked sweet potatoes. Once cooked, you can refrigerate or freeze them.

That’s all for our vegetable storage tips! Remember, you can’t store any food items in our storage facilities, but you can use our units to store kitchen equipment and gadgets!

We have clean, modern storage facilities nationwide - find a store near you.