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Storing fruit

Overview
Colourful display of fruit

Learn how to store your fruit properly for optimum freshness.

If you can, buy fruit from local producers – it won't have travelled as far so will stay fresher for longer.

Buy fruit that is in season – it will be full of flavour, more nutritious and less expensive.

Most fruit should be kept in the fridge once it is ripe, except bananas.

Some fruit, like bananas, produce ethylene gas – a hormone that accelerates the ripening process. To help fruit stay fresher longer, separate ethylene-producing fruit from ethylene-sensitive fruit.

Ethylene producers


Includes 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.

 

Ethylene-sensitive


Includes asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, kale, kiwi fruit, leafy greens, lettuce, parsley, peas, peppers, potatoes, romaine (cos) lettuce, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, watercress and yams.

 

Storage tips


Apples: When buying apples, choose firm fruit and avoid bruises. Refrigerated apples will keep longer than those left at room temperature. To maximise flavour bring them to room temperature before eating.

Apricots: Choose plump, firm (but not hard) fruit. Select your fruit based on how it smells or tastes, not how it looks. Apricots will ripen at room temperature. If refrigerating, keep apricots at room temperature for several days before eating to fully develop their flavour.

Bananas: Choose firm unblemished fruit and only buy for immediate use, especially in summer. Store bananas at room temperature in the open (not in the cupboard) so they do not ripen too quickly. Once ripe, they can be stored in the fridge but their skin will turn black. Choose bananas at different stages of ripeness so they do not all ripen at once. Freeze bananas that are overripe and use them for smoothies or baking.

Blueberries: Blueberries are usually sold in punnets. Choose plump, firm, good-coloured berries. Check the base of the punnet for mould or spoilage. Store them covered in the fridge and use as soon as possible; they can deteriorate fast.

Cherries: Choose plump, firm cherries with fresh green stems. Avoid overripe and split fruit. Wash cherries just before using them. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for a short time only.

Custard apple: Ripe custard apples yield slightly when gently squeezed. When buying a custard apple try to avoid dark blemishes and choose fruit that is heavy for its size. Hard custard apples should be stored at room temperature until they soften and can then be refrigerated. Be careful handling custard apples as they bruise easily.

Feijoa: Ripe feijoas yield slightly when gently squeezed and are fragrant. Avoid blemished, soft fruit. Let feijoas ripen at room temperature then refrigerate.

Figs: Figs should be plump and blemish free. Try to avoid shrivelled or over sticky skins on fruit. Figs are highly perishable and should be stored in single layer in the fridge for a short time only.

Grapes: Choose ripe, firm grapes in bunches without withered or broken fruit or stickiness. Grapes do not ripen once they have been removed from the vine. Grapes can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a short time only. Remove any squashed or rotten grapes before storing.

Grapefruits: Try to choose heavy fruit because lighter fruit can have thick skin and little flesh and juice. Small blemishes on the grapefruit's skin do not reduce its quality. Store in the fridge.

Guava: Choose firm, undamaged fruit with a greenish-yellow skin colouring. Ripe fruit should yield to gentle pressure. Keep at room temperature until ripe and then place in the fridge crisper.

Honeydew melon: All melons should be heavy and firm for their size. Avoid damaged or soft melons. Honeydew melons will yield to gentle pressure at the flower end. Store in the fridge and when cut, cover with plastic film or place in an airtight container.

Kiwi fruit: Choose firm fruit which yields to gentle pressure. Kiwi fruit ripens at room temperature. To ripen faster, place in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana. Kiwi fruit can also be stored in the fridge during the summer months if necessary.

Lemons: Choose heavy fruit that are glossy, yellow and firm. Ripe lemons should have a pleasant citrus fragrance. Lemons may be stored at room temperature or in the fridge.

Limes: Select heavy firm fruit, evenly coloured and glossy. Limes may be stored at room temperature or in the fridge. Keep out of the sunlight, as limes will deteriorate.

Lychees: Choose only ripe fruit; green fruit will not ripen. Look for firm fruit with no signs of decay at the stem end. Store covered in the fridge as lychees deteriorate rapidly.

Mandarin: Choose fruit with glossy skin, fine texture and that feel heavy for their size. Avoid fruits that have soft spots. A loose feel and puffy appearance is normal due to the easy-to-peel skin. Mandarins can be stored either at room temperature or in the fridge.

Mangoes: Select mangoes that yield to pressure and avoid signs of bruising or whitening. Mangoes can be ripened at room temperature. Mature green mangoes usually ripen within 7 to 10 days between 18–22°C. Keep ripe mangoes well wrapped in the fridge (about 3 days).

Melons (rockmelon and watermelon): All melons should be heavy and firm for their size. Avoid damaged or soft melons. Watermelon should sound hollow when tapped. Rock melon (cantaloupe) has a porous skin allowing the exotic smell to come through when ripe. Ripe rock melon will yield to gentle pressure at the flower end. Store in the fridge. When cut, cover with plastic film or place in an airtight container.

Nashi pears: Choose firm, unblemished fruit. Depending on the variety, the colour may be either green-yellow or part-to-full cinnamon-brown. Avoid fruit that is rubbery. Nashi pears are best stored in your fridge crisper.

Nectarines: Choose fruit without blemishes and bruising. Green fruit will not ripen properly as it has been picked when immature. Ripen nectarines at room temperature and then store in the fridge if necessary for a short time.

Oranges: Choose firm, heavy and glossy fruit and try to avoid soft spots. Oranges can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge.

Passionfruit: Choose heavy fruit without excessive wrinkling or blemished skins. Store in airtight bags in the fridge or scoop out the pulp and freeze.

Pawpaw: Choose sweet smelling fruit without bruises and black spots, which are a sign of deterioration. At times 'freckles' appear on the skin. This does not affect the flesh. Pawpaw is a very delicate fruit, handle it carefully to reduce bruising. It may be stored in the fridge for a short time.

Peaches: Ripe, firm peaches will soften at room temperature. Refrigerate ripe fruit for a short time only.

Pears: Choose fairly firm unblemished fruit. Handle gently as pears can bruise easily even when not fully ripe. Pears that have spent a short time in cool storage will ripen quickly. Firm unripe fruit can be kept at room temperature where it will change from hard green with little flavour, to ripe yellow, which will be full of juice and flavour. When full ripeness is achieved rapid deterioration takes place so keep in the fridge for a very short time only.

Pineapples: Select fruit that are plump and heavy for their size (a sign of good juice content), with green, fresh-looking leaves and a distinct, sweet tropical aroma. Pineapples do not turn gold during winter, so a green-tinged pineapple can still be ripe and ready to eat. Pineapples are best stored in the fridge and should be used as soon as possible. Seal in plastic or keep in an air-tight container if already cut.

Plums: Select plump full-coloured fruit, firm but yielding to gentle pressure. Avoid hard or poor coloured fruit and brown discolouration and cracking. Plums will ripen at room temperature for greatest flavour. You can store them in the fridge for a short time only.

Pomegranate: Choose those heavy for their size with bright unblemished skins. Pomegranates should be stored in a cool, dark place or in the fridge.

Raspberries: Choose bright red, firm berries and check the base of the punnet for spoilage or mould. Store covered in the fridge. Use as soon as possible as raspberries can deteriorate quickly.

Rhubarb: Choose crisp, firm, long, brightly coloured stalks and avoid rough or droopy stalks. Rhubarb can be kept in the fridge, sealed in either a plastic bag or an airtight container.

Star fruit: Choose firm, shiny fruit that is mostly yellow. Avoid fruit with brown spots or streaks. Star fruit can be stored in the fridge, tightly wrapped in a plastic bag for up to a week.

Strawberries: Choose clean, bright red fruit. A fresh, bright, green stem should be attached. Check the base of the punnet for mould or moisture from overripe fruit. Store in the fridge.

 

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