If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, you may have more produce than you have room for in your fridge right now. Or, if you’re still trying to make infrequent grocery trips, you may find that your crisper drawers can’t contain your stockpile of long-lasting veg. Here’s a little reminder in case you need it: A lot of produce doesn’t need to go in the fridge, and some really shouldn’t go in there.
To provide a brief gloss: A lot of produce will last longer in a cool, dark, well-ventilated, and not- too-dry environment. The fridge, while cool and dark, is not well ventilated and very dehydrating. There are still some things that are better off refrigerated, like produce that was already refrigerated at the store (there’s no going back, unfortunately), vegetables that have been cut open, and fruit that has ripened but you are not ready to eat. Here’s a general list to follow based on commercial agriculture industry standards. If your home is reasonably cool, or you have a spot in your basement or garage for a root cellar set up you can get away with a bit more out of the fridge than this list lets on. But if you don’t have central air, or if your kitchen tends to get quite hot, these guidelines are a good map to follow.
Of course, you can’t just dump all of your fruits and vegetables all over the counter. They need thoughtful storage solutions. Plus, keeping your produce on the countertop might mean you’re less likely to forget about it in the depths of your crisper drawer. Here’s a roundup of some of my favorite storage methods for keeping produce fresh outside of the refrigerator:
Three tier hanging basket
A hanging basket like this is great for fruits with firm flesh that may continue to ripen after buying, like avocados and bananas. Avoid bruising your delicate fruit by laying down a layer of thick cloth or burlap to provide some cushioning, as the wire mesh could create pressure points and lead to faster spoilage. Looks-wise, you can’t deny that there’s something delightfully charming about hanging fruit from the ceiling.
$20.00, Bed Bath & Beyond
Large Wooden Stacking Bin
Certain types of produce can cause others to spoil faster due to the release of ethylene gas during the ripening process. Bins like these are great for keeping things separate but still organized, and providing enough open air ventilation to keep spoilage at bay. Most produce, like apples, squash or tomatoes, should work here. Things like potatoes and onions tend to sprout when they’re stored in too much light.
$17.00, The Container Store
Bread boxes make great countertop root cellars since they are nice and dark, but still maintain airflow. Throw your alliums and root vegetables in these to keep them nice and firm. Just be sure to keep your onions and potatoes separate, as onions will cause the potatoes to spoil faster. Also, the lid of this particular bread box doubles as a cutting board.
Emile Henry French Ceramic Storage Bowl
For those looking for a storage method that is both stylish and compact, this bowl is designed to accommodate a lot in a limited space. The ventilated interior is great for the onions or the potatoes, while your ripening fruits can rest easy on top of the cork lid. The cork is more than just for looks—it absorbs excess moisture that might promote rot or attract fruit flies.
Nothing beats a good old fashioned burlap sack. They are cheap, they provide ventilation and wick away moisture, and they are both washable and biodegradable, so if things get a little too funky in there you can toss the whole bag into the washing machine, and eventually the compost heap.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious