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  • Writer's pictureChef Bob Aungst

Produce Storage 101: To Refrigerate or Not to Refrigerate

We’re diving into the world of produce storage.

This summer I’ve been promoting a “Summer Garden Series” on my social channels. Everything from gardening tips, delicious recipes, grilling techniques, and so much more.

To catch up on everything I’ve talked about this summer, follow me on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn. You’ll find lots of great stuff.

Whether you’ve got homegrown veggies or farmer’s market treasures, knowing how to keep them fresh is key to savoring their flavors.

While some produce loves the cool embrace of the fridge, others prefer to bask in the warm summer sun. So, how do you decide? Let me guide you through the art of produce preservation. When it comes to preserving your produce, it’s all about understanding their unique needs. Some fruits and vegetables are more sensitive to cold temperatures, which can cause them to lose flavor, texture, and even spoil faster. On the other hand, the right chilling can extend the shelf life of many items and help maintain their crispness and juiciness.

Let’s start with the refrigerator-friendly bunch:

  1. Leafy Greens: Tender greens like spinach, lettuce, and kale will stay fresher for longer in the fridge. Be sure to store them in a loosely wrapped plastic bag to maintain their moisture without suffocating them.

  2. Berries: Deliciously juicy and delicate berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, should be kept in the fridge to prevent mold growth and maintain their sweetness.

  3. Citrus Fruits: Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits can be refrigerated to keep them fresh and maintain their juiciness. However, allow them to come to room temperature before consuming for the best flavor.

  4. Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts benefit from refrigeration to retain their nutrients and avoid wilting. Additionally, trimming the end off of the hard, dry stalks of items like cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels so that they can faster absorb fresh air. Also, I like to trim them once again and place them in a small bowl (Brussels) or ramekin, stalk side down for stalk vegetables, so they can absorb fresh water prior to cooking.

Now onto the produce that enjoys the summer sun:

  1. Tomatoes: Once ripe, tomatoes develop their best flavor when kept at room temperature. Storing them in the fridge can make them mealy and dull their taste.

  2. Stone Fruits: Peaches, plums, and nectarines should be ripened at room temperature and only refrigerated when fully ripe to slow down the ripening process.

  3. Melons: Watermelons and cantaloupes thrive outside the fridge until cut. Once sliced, refrigerate the remaining portion to keep them fresh.

  4. Avocados: If your avocados are unripe, leave them out at room temperature to ripen. Once they’re ready, you can move them to the refrigerator to extend their shelf life.

Some fruits and vegetables emit ethylene gas, which can speed up ripening. To prevent over-ripening, keep ethylene-sensitive produce away from ethylene-producing ones. For instance, keep banana, tomatoes and avocado separate from apples, broccoli, and leafy greens.

Finally, always store produce in a clean and organized fridge to prevent cross-contamination and maintain the best flavor profiles.

I’m hopeful these storage tips will help you savor the season’s bounty and reduce food waste. Mastering the art of produce preservation will not only keep your fruits and veggies fresh and delicious but also enhance your culinary creations all summer long.

Happy cooking and gardening!


About Chef Bob Aungst

With over 30 years in the hospitality industry, Chef Bob Aungst has masterfully navigated some of the most prestigious stages in the culinary world. From orchestrating events like the Kentucky Derby and Presidential Inaugurations to serving esteemed dignitaries, including four U.S. Presidents and members of the Royal Courts, he and his team focus on creating unique and memorable dining experiences with extreme attention to detail for every guest served. From in person events to virtual culinary live streams, CB handcrafts each one for a truly “WOW” experience.

For the coffee lovers, check out >> ask me how you can secure your own branded line of premium coffee for sales enablement, gifting, or marketing promotions!

In addition, Chef Bob also offers temporary and seasonal culinary and chef staffing services through the League of Extraordinary Chefs. His roster of highly-skilled chefs and front of house hospitality professionals service top resorts, dude ranches, vacation destinations, hotels, convention centers, and large scale sporting events around the world.


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