How to choose and store vegetables
Vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. When shopping, pick a variety of vegetables to make sure you’re getting a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Choosing vegetables wisely and storing them properly can help ensure that your selections stay fresh until you’re ready to eat them.
Select a vegetable to learn more.
Choosing: Look for firm, odorless stalks. The tips should be dry and compact.
Storing: Wrap bottoms in a wet paper towel and put the asparagus in a plastic bag. Refrigerate for up to four days.
Choosing: Ripe avocados will yield to gentle pressure. Choose firm avocados if you don’t want to use them right away.
Storing: To speed ripening, store the avocado in a paper bag at room temperature. Putting an apple in the bag will make the avocado ripen even faster. You can store ripe avocados in the refrigerator for two to three days.
A little trivia: Technically avocados are fruit.
Choosing: Look for dark green bunches. Avoid those with florets (the bush tops) that are pale or yellow. Stalks should be firm. Florets should be closed, not open or flowering.
Storing: Store unwashed, in an open plastic bag in the crisper. Eat within five days.
Choosing: Look for solid, heavy heads with compact leaves.
Storing: Refrigerate for up to seven days.
Choosing: Carrots should be deep orange. Don’t buy carrots that are cracked, wilted or soft.
Storing: Remove any green leafy tops. Keep in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Choosing: Husks should be green and silks should be fresh. Open the husk to make sure kernels are in compact rows.
Storing: Eat immediately for maximum sweetness. If you must store corn, refrigerate it in the husk for up to two days.
Choosing: Fresh garlic heads should be plump, dry and firm. Avoid soft, mushy or shriveled cloves.
Storing: Store in a cool, dark place for several weeks. Avoid storing garlic in the refrigerator.
Choosing: Leaves should be crisp. Avoid lettuce that is wilting or has dark spots or edges.
Storing: Refrigerate in a plastic bag in the crisper. Leaf, iceberg, endive and romaine lettuce last up to a week.
Choosing: Choose onions that have a dry, solid feel. Avoid onions with green areas, dark patches, soft spots or sprouts.
Storing: Keep away from bright light in a cool, dry space that has good circulation. Use within four weeks.
Choosing: Look for crisp, green leaves that smell fresh. Avoid spinach that is limp, damaged or spotted.
Storing: Loosely wrap spinach in a damp paper towel and place in a plastic bag, then refrigerate. It will keep for three to five days.
Choosing: Look for firm, shiny tomatoes.
Storing: Keep ripe tomatoes at room temperature, out of direct sun, for up to one week.
Court-ordered veggies? Botanically, the tomato is a fruit, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it’s a vegetable in 1893.
You can always get fresh produce from your grocer of farmers market. Find out what’s in season now.
Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; Produce for Better Health Foundation; U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Discover the Health Benefits of Produce." https://www.eatright.org/food/food-groups/fruits/discover-the-health-benefits-of-produce.
- Produce for Better Health Foundation. “Fruit Nutrition Database.” https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/fruits/.
- Produce for Better Health Foundation. “Vegetable Nutrition Database.” https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/vegetables/.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. “What Is My Plate?” https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/what-is-myplate.