Storing Fresh Fruits and Veggies; Freezing Fruits and Veggies
Storing Fresh Fruits and Veggies
Don’t let produce go bad! Keep it fresh longer using these storage tips.
- When purchasing fresh fruits and veggies: if you will eat right away, buy ripe. If you won’t, buy before they are ripe and let ripen at home. Or, buy a mix – a few that are ripe to eat right away and a few that aren’t for later in the week.
- If refrigeration is not available, some fruits and veggies can be stored in a cool room or basement instead. Try potatoes, beets, carrots, other root veggies, apples, and pears.
Buy fruits and veggies in bulk when they are in season and the price is good. Freeze the extras to use another time.
- Most produce maintains its quality when frozen up to about 6 months (for fruits) or 12 months (for veggies).
- Blanching slows the loss of flavor, color, texture, and nutrients during freezing. Veggies frozen without blanching are safe to eat, but may not maintain their quality for as long. If you’re pressed for time, hearty veggies like broccoli, carrots, corn, and summer or winter squash can be frozen without blanching. But you may want to use them up more quickly than blanched frozen veggies.
Ready to freeze some fruits and veggies? Follow these simple steps:
- Rinse produce. Pat dry.
- Prep as directed in the chart below.
- If freezing vegetables, blanch (briefly cook in boiling water) for the amount of time shown in the chart. Using a slotted spoon, immediately transfer boiled veggies to a bowl of ice water. Drain well and pat dry. Here’s a quick video that shows the basics of blanching.
- Place produce in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze.
- Transfer frozen produce to a large freezer-safe bag or other airtight container.
|Fruit or Vegetable||Prep Steps||Blanching Time|
|Bell peppers||Cut out stem and remove seeds. Cut into ½-inch pieces.||2-3 minutes
|Blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries||Remove any stems.||Not needed|
|Broccoli and cauliflower||Cut into 1- to 1 ½-inch florets.||3 minutes|
|Carrots||Peel and cut into ¼-inch slices.||2 minutes|
|Cherries||Remove stems and pit.||Not needed|
|Cooking greens (e.g., spinach, collards, kale, Swiss chard)||Remove any tough stems and ribs. Chop.||2-3 minutes|
|Corn||Remove husks and cut corn off the cob.||2 minutes|
|Green beans||Trim stem ends.||3 minutes|
|Mangoes||Cut off skin. Cut fruit off of pit. Cut into 1-inch pieces.||Not needed|
|Nectarines, peaches, and plums||Remove pit and cut into sixths.||Not needed|
|Peas||For edible pods, remove tough stems. If using shelled peas, remove from pod.||1-2 minutes|
|Strawberries||Remove stem and hull. Cut large berries in half.||Not needed|
|Summer squash||Cut into ½-inch slices.||2-3 minutes|
|Tomatoes||Remove core.||Not needed|
|Winter squash||Cut in half. Remove seeds and stringy membrane.||Instead of blanching, place cut-side down on a baking sheet coated with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 400°F until tender, 35-50 minutes. Let cool. Scoop squash into a bowl, removing skin. Mash with a fork. Cool completely before freezing.|
The Cooking Matters campaign knows that kids need good food to grow up healthy. That’s why we’re here to help you learn to shop for and cook healthy, affordable meals for your entire family. For more information, including additional tips and recipes, visit co.cookingmatters.org.
The new Cooking Matters app for Android makes it simple to feed your family healthy foods, on any budget! Visit CookingMatters.org/app to plan meals with the touch of a button.
Exploring Food Together is a Cooking Matters toolkit of simple activities that adults can use to help kids learn about new foods and start building the skills to make healthy food choices.