Food Safety Basics

Wondering how to store your food from us safely and effectively so that you may enjoy it for as long as possible? Well, you've come to the right place! Here are our top ten purchased food items and the best way to keep them fresh. 

Apples

  • Storing- Store in the refrigerator in your produce drawer for the longest storage time. Apples are very durable; they will stay refrigerated for a month or longer
  • Expiring- Apples are bad when they extensively bruised, brown, or have soft spots

Sweet Potatoes

  • Storing- Do not store sweet potatoes in the refrigerator, as this will cause a hard center and unpleasant taste. Store your sweet potatoes in a cool and dry place either open to air or in a ventilated container. Potatoes store at their freshest for up to 2 weeks
  • Consuming- Wash your potatoes before cooking/consumption. The skin of a potato is edible, and actually contains a great amount of fiber and potassium!
  • Expiring- Sweet potatoes go bad when they get odd discolorations or growths on the skin, become soft and wet, or turn brown or black

Carrots

  • Storing- Carrots can be stored on their own in a produce drawer; to extend their life, keep them in a sealed, covered container with water. If present, remove the green tops of carrots before storing
  • Consuming- Wash carrots before consumption
  • Baby Carrots- Bags of baby carrots should also be kept in the refrigerator, preferably in the produce drawer

Bananas

  • Ripeness- Bananas will be green and firm when under ripe, yellow with slight brown spotting when ripe, and numerous/extensive brown spots when overripe
  • Storing- It is recommended that, to extend the life of your bananas, store them in the pantry or on the counter until bright yellow and ripe. Once ripe, store bananas in the refrigerator for up to 5 days to extend their shelf life
  • Expiring- Bananas are bad when they are extensively covered in brown spots and become overly soft

Tomatoes

  • Ripeness- When ripe, tomatoes should feel just slightly firm; if your tomato is hard, it still needs time to ripen
  • Storing- Store tomatoes in room temperature until ripe. If you do not plan to eat the tomatoes within one day of them ripening, store in the refrigerator in order to preserve freshness and prolong over ripening, usually for up to 5 days
  • Consuming- If taking tomatoes out of the refrigerator, let them sit at room temperature for at least an hour before cooking with them
  • Expiring- Tomatoes are bad when they become overly soft and develop brown mushy spots

Peppers

  • Storing- The best way to extend the life of your green or other bell peppers are to keep them in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. Typically, these green peppers will last longer than other colors of bell peppers  Stored in this way, green peppers will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator  
  • Consuming- Wash your bell peppers before consumption. These are often eaten by cutting the vegetable into slices, removing the top stem and inner group of seeds  
  • Expiring- Bell peppers are bad when they become soft on the outside with pressure, discolored including dark brown or black spots, have a foul odor or slimy feeling, or begin to grow mold on the outside, inside, or within the seeds

Spinach

  • Storing- To make your spinach last as long as possible, store in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator and do not wash until ready to use.  Excess moisture will make spinach spoil faster. Stored properly, raw spinach will last up to one week in the refrigerator.  If your refrigerator tends to make foods sweat/create moisture, try putting a couple paper towels in the bag to absorb this excess moisture  
  • Consuming- Wash spinach thoroughly under running water before consumption.  You can eat spinach both raw, like in salads or smoothies, or cooked, like sautéed on the stovetop or baked in the oven with other foods
  • Expiring- Spinach is bad when it becomes soft, mushy, discolored, slimy, moldy, or produces a foul smell or very wilted appearance

Onions

  • Storing- Store onions in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area in order to extend their shelf life.  Never store onions in sealed, plastic bags.  Some sources recommend wrapping each onion in a paper towel and keeping them in the produce drawer of the refrigerator.  Others have recommended storing them in a brown paper bag with several holes poked in it in the refrigerator.  Stored in the refrigerator, onions will last a maximum of two months
  • Consuming- In order to use onions in your favorite recipe, first peel the onion.  This can be easily done by cutting the onion in half and discarding the outer layer.  There is also a core to an onion; find this core by treating it like you would an apple, discarding a small core from the middle.  This core is eatable, but often has a chewy texture
  • Expiring- When onions are bad, you will often see brown, black, or soft spots, moldy areas, a squishy texture, or an overly foul odor

Pears

  • Ripeness- In order to determine if pears are ripe, gently apply pressure to the top neck of the fruit; if it gives slightly then the pear is ripe
  • Storing- Leave unripe pears in your pantry or on your counter until ripe, and then store in the refrigerator when they have ripened. Pears will stay up to 10 days at desired ripeness in the refrigerator
  • Consuming- Wash pears before consumption; many of a pear’s nutrients are found in the skin, so it is recommended that you not peel them before eating  
  • Expiring- Pears are bad when there are multiple brown and soft spots, or if you press your thumb on the pear and it completely gives

Clementines

  • Ripeness- Clementines are best to eat when they have a slight give when pressed and when the peel has slightly separated from the inner fruit.  They will smell sweet and be bright orange in color with no blemishes when ready to consume
  • Storing- Clementines can be stored at room temperature for 3-5 days, but keeping them in the refrigerator will extend their life to up to 2 weeks
  • Expiring- Clementines are bad when they have extensive blemishes/bruises, dry out (demonstrated by complete separation of the peel and the fruit), or when they are extremely squishy to the touch
Jessica Witkin