The typical American family throws out almost 500 pounds of food a year — that’s a lot of wasted food and money. The answer is not to purchase less produce, but to learn how to properly store fruit and vegetables in better ways that will keep them fresher for longer. No more waking up only to find your seasonal squash appear wilted and past its prime!

If you get home from the store and place some produce in the fridge, then place others all together in a large bowl, you’re making a mistake. Don’t separate produce by fridge vs. counter alone. Even the proximity of one piece of fruit to another can make all the difference in how they appear and taste several days later. Interested in learning how to properly store fruit and vegetables? Follow these tips so you can make the most of all your fresh produce.

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Some Produce Emit a Harmless, Odorless Gas

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Fruits and veggies naturally emit an odorless, harmless, and tasteless gas called ethylene. Some produce it in greater quantities than others. Here is the produce that creates ethylene gas: Apples, apricots, avocados, ripening bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, citrus fruit (not grapefruit), figs, grapes, green onions, honeydew, ripe kiwi fruit, mangoes, melons, mushrooms, nectarines, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, pears, peppers, pineapple, plums, prunes, tomatoes and watermelon.

Know Your Ethylene-Sensitive Foods

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When you store ethylene-producing foods next to ethylene-sensitive foods, the gas will actually speed up the ripening process of the other produce. Here is the produce that is damaged by ethylene gas: Asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, kale, kiwi fruit, leafy greens, lettuce, parsley, peas, peppers, potatoes, romaine lettuce, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, watercress and yams.

Separate the Ethylene-Producing From the Ethylene-Sensitive

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Now that you know which produce is ethylene-producing and which is ethylene-sensitive, be sure to separate your haul into these two camps. For example, don’t put your kiwi and your apples in the same bowl. Those apples are a threat to your kiwi’s longevity, since the apple’s ethylene gas will cause the kiwi to ripen faster than if the kiwi were in a bowl with just other ethylene-sensitive fruits.

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What To Store in the Fridge vs. on the Counter

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Vegetarian Times recommends you store gas-releasing apples, apricots, cantaloupe, figs and honeydew in the fridge. However, do not refrigerate these gas-releasers: avocados, unripe bananas, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums and tomatoes. Store them on the counter or in a cool, dark and dry place instead.

Learn Where to Store Specific FruitsAssorted fruit in produce section of grocery

Use this list for more information about how to properly store fruit and vegetables so they remain fresher for longer:

1. Apples: Store loose in the refrigerator.

2. Stone Fruit (apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums): Store on the counter until ripe, then refrigerate in a bag.

3. Bananas: Store on the counter.

4. Berries and Cherries: Store covered in the fridge.

5. Citrus Fruits: Store at room temperature of 60-70°F.

6. Grapes: Store in a bag in the refrigerator.

7. Kiwis: Store on the counter until ripe, then refrigerate in a bag.

8. Mangoes and Melons: Store on the counter until ripe, then refrigerate in a bag.

9. Tomatoes: Store on the counter, uncovered, and refrigerate if they’re very ripe.

Use Your Knowledge to Ripen Fruit Faster

Now that you know how to properly store fruit and vegetables for longer lasting produce, you can also use this information to ripen fruit faster! Ethylene-producing foods will cause ethylene-sensitive foods to ripen faster, so use this knowledge to your advantage. If you need to ripen a piece of produce, pair an ethylene-producing food with an ethylene-sensitive food.

Want to learn how to store other ingredients properly in your kitchen? Find out How to Store Your Herbs Properly by downloading the Food Monster App. For those that don’t have it, it’s a brilliant food app available for both Android and iPhone. It has more than 10,000 with 10 new recipes added each day. You can also make meal plans, add bookmarks, read feature stories, and browse recipes across hundreds of categories like diet, cuisine, meal type, occasion, ingredient, popular, seasonal, and so much more!

Lead image source: bitt24