Finding fresh produce can be hard in the winter.  Once you find the good stuff, you want it to stay fresh for as long as possible and that can be a challenge.  Here are some tips to keeping your produce fresh.

1)         Start by getting the freshest and best quality fruits and vegetables possible.  Leafy greens should be a rich colour with no limp or yellowing leaves.  Cabbages squash, and onions should feel heavy for their size without any blemishes or soft spots.

2)         Fruits that naturally release ethylene gas such as apples and bananas will cause other foods to ripen quicker.  These ethylene-sensitive foods include cabbage, leafy greens, and broccoli.  Best to keep these two types of food separate no matter where you store them.

3)         You should leave certain foods such as bananas, potatoes, and onions at room temperature and require air circulation.  Best to store them out of bags even if they came packaged in bags.  Take them out and let them breathe.

4)         Refrigerated produce will stay fresher longer when sealed in containers.  Sealed containers, zip lock bags or containers with tight fitting lids, keep the produce from drying out and can help protect them from ethylene gas.


Potatoes and sweet potatoes:

Do not refrigerate. Store in a cool, dark place with relatively high humidity (85-90%).  Allow for air circulation and keep away from onions, bananas, and other ethylene-producing foods.  Refrigerating potatoes will convert the starch into sugar and they will brown too quickly.  If your potatoes are green, throw them away as they are toxic.

Other roots and tubers:

Remove the leafy green tops and refrigerate in a plastic bag for a longer life or for a shorter-term store them loose in the crisper drawer.

Onions and garlic:

Do not refrigerate and store in a cool, dark place with low humidity (65-75%).  Allow for air circulation and keep separate from potatoes and sweet potatoes.  Moisture makes them spoil faster so avoid putting them in plastic bags.  Wrap in plastic (or sealed container) and refrigerate leftover or cut onions.


Store cut cabbage and refrigerate in sealed containers.  If it is a full head and uncut, it can be stored in the fridge without the use of bags/container.

Broccoli and cauliflower:

Whole crowns can stay crisp for up to two weeks when sealed in bags or containers.  If cut, store in sealed containers or bags.

Winter Squashes:

Store at room temperature in a cool dry place.  Keep them away from bananas and other ethylene producing foods.



Leafy Greens:

Refrigerate unwashed and seal in zip-lock bags.  Washing greens before storing them can result in early rot due to the excess water. Remove brown or slimy leaves before storing.   Save the greens and wash only before using.

Apples and pears:

Refrigerate in a plastic bag and use the crisper drawer.   At room temperature, apples and pears quickly spoil.   Under ripe pears should stay at room temperature until they ripen a bit.  Once they reach that stage, store them in the refrigerator.


Store at room temperate until ripe then put them loose in the refrigerator and separate from apples or pears.

Citrus fruit:

If you are going to use them quickly, store them at room temperate.  If you want them to last longer, refrigerate them loose.  Oranges and grapefruit are not ethylene-sensitive so you can store them with the apples.  Lemons and limes need to be away from any ethylene producing foods.

If you are unsure, whether your produce is still edible or not, use your best judgement.  If something looks, smells, and tastes fine, then you might want to give it a go.  If you feel uneasy about it, trust your gut and throw it away.  You should refrigerate any cut pieces in a sealed container.

Check out the visual guide in the link.  You can print it out and put it in your kitchen for reference.