Keeping your fruit and veggies fresh and safe

Fruits and vegetables are grown in many different ways in a variety of settings: whether that’s out in an open field in the soil, in a hydroponic set up inside, on trees or vines, in the water or under the earth.

Whether grown in your home garden or commercially, fresh fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with bacteria and viruses which may result in food poisoning. Contamination can occur as the produce is grown, harvested, packaged, transported, stored, sold and prepared.

As the consumers of fruits and vegetables, there are some things you can do to lower your risk and keep your fresh produce safe.

At the supermarket

For consumers, food safety starts at the supermarket. We’ve written a whole blog post dedicated to this topic. Click here to read.

Storage at home

Once your fresh fruits and vegetables make it home, it’s essential you store them correctly:

  • Remove room temperature produce (e.g. potatoes, onions, bananas, pineapple etc.) from their packaging and store loose.
  • Leave refrigerated produce in its original packaging and store in the fridge.
  • Rinse and dry greens like lettuce and store with the paper towel in the fridge.
  • Brush off any dirt and wash things like potatoes in running water before storing.
  • Once vegetables are cut or prepared in any way, they should be covered and stored in the fridge.

Where to store

Some fruits and vegetables should be refrigerated, but others are okay at room temperature. Here is a quick guide as to where to put what:

In the fridge:

  • Grapes, watermelon, apples, pears, berries, oranges and rockmelon (it won’t ripen faster on the bench!)
  • Avocados, stone fruit and tomatoes (when you want to halt ripening)
  • Most vegetables including greens (silverbeet, lettuce, spinach, herbs and kale), carrots, broccoli, zucchini, cucumber, capsicum, corn, cabbage and celery.

At room temperature:

  • Bananas, pineapples, mangoes, lychees, pomegranates, coconuts, mangosteen, guava and papaya.
  • Avocados, stone fruit and tomatoes (while they’re ripening)
  • Potatoes, onions, whole pumpkins, sweet potatoes and garlic (in a cool and dark spot)

Remember once fruits and vegetables are cut up or prepared, they then need to be kept in the fridge.

The refrigerator

Are you stacking your fridge correctly? It’s crucial to food safety that your refrigerator is spick and span. Check out our article on fridge safety here.

Shelf life

Once you’ve stored your foods, shelf life is the next thing to keep in mind. Have a look at this guide to some of the common fruits and vegetables.

Want more information? This excellent article from the CSIRO will help.