Guide for storing fresh produce

Last updated: 18 June 2021

Storing food correctly keeps it fresher for longer. You’ll waste less, save money and help the environment!

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A

Avocado

Store in the fruit bowl until ripe, then move to fridge shelf. Wrap tightly in cling wrap or beeswax wrap with the stone left in. Press wrap against cut surface to seal.

Shelf life: Up to 1 week

Tip: Place in a paper bag with a ripe banana to speed up ripening. You can also mash up with a little lemon and freeze avocado. Seal it in portion sized bag/ container to use on the go.

B

Bananas

Store in the fruit bowl, away from any other fruit you don’t want to ripen.

Shelf life: Up to 1 week

Tip: Peel, cut and freeze over-ripe bananas to use in baking, smoothies or blitz for banana ice-cream.

Did you know…

Overripe fruit produces extra ethylene, a gas that will quickly ripen other fruit and vegetables nearby.

Berries

Store in the fridge crisper drawer. Leave in original packaging.

Shelf life: 2 to 4 days

Tip: Only wash berries right before eating. You can also freeze them for a snack, a smoothie or to add to cooking later.

Biscuits

Store on a pantry shelf in an airtight container.

Shelf life: Refer to date label

Tip: Sweet biscuits have low moisture content so can be frozen.

Bread

Store on a pantry shelf or bread box out of direct sunlight.

Shelf life: 2 to 5 days

Tip: Freeze extra bread slices for toast or diced for croutons. Do not consume if mould is present.

Did you know…

Bread is one of Victoria’s most wasted foods. Save it from waste – freeze it for later or turn extra bread into breadcrumbs, croutons or bread and butter pudding.

Broccoli

Store in the fridge crisper drawer. Rinse in water and shake off excess. Wrap a tea towel around damp head and seal in a plastic, paper or cloth bag.

Shelf life: Up to 4 weeks

Tip: You can freshen up broccoli by placing stems in a glass of water in your fridge. Broccoli is also great for freezing. Chop into smaller pieces before freezing and seal airtight.

C

Cauliflower

Store in the fridge crisper, in a bag or wrapped in its own leaves.

Shelf life: 1–2 weeks

Tip: The leaves delay the head from turning brown.

Carrots

Store in fridge crisper in original packaging or loosely tied bag.

Shelf life: Whole carrots should last 2 to 3 weeks

Tip: If your carrot goes limp, you can revive it by cutting off the tip and placing in a glass of water until crisp.

Celery

Store in the fridge crisper drawer. Trim off leaves and wrap in foil or place in an airtight container.

Shelf life: 4 weeks

Tip: Celery leaves can be used in place of parsley.

Cereal

Store on a pantry shelf in an airtight container

Shelf life: Refer to best before date.

Did you know…

Use by dates show when a product is no longer safe to eat. Best before dates only suggest quality rather than safety. You can still eat food after its best before date, but the quality – such as texture – may not be as good.

Citrus

Store in the fridge crisper drawer in a loosely tied plastic, cloth or paper bag.

Shelf life: 2 to 3 weeks

Tip: Limes will also last well out of the fridge.

Corn

Store fresh corn in the fridge. You can also cut corn cobs and place in a sealed bag or container in the freezer.

Shelf life: 5 to 7 days in the fridge

E

Eggs

Leave in carton to protect shells and store on a shelf in the fridge.

Shelf life: See used by date.

Tip: If an egg is off, it will float in water.

Did you know…

Your fridge temperature should be set at 3 to 4ºC.

F

Fish

For fresh fish, store in the fridge on the bottom shelf, sealed well to prevent leakage.

Shelf life: 3 days

Tip: Wash and gut fish if storing for more than 24 hours.

For leftover canned fish, take out of can and place in well-sealed container. Consult can for how many days to consume once open.

Flour

Store on a pantry shelf in an airtight container

Shelf life: Refer to best before date.

G

Garlic

Store in a dark, cool and dry place when unpeeled. In the fridge when peeled or chopped.

Shelf life: Up to 1 year

Green veg (hard like asparagus, beans, brussels sprout)

Store in the fridge crisper drawer in a loosely tied plastic, paper or cloth bag.

Shelf life: Up to 1 week

H

Herbs (soft herbs with long stems like coriander and parsley)

Store on the fridge shelf in a glass with some water. Covered with a plastic bag to keep fresh for even longer. Change water every 2 to 3 days.

Shelf life: 3 to 4 days

Tip: Basil is best stored out of the fridge in bowl of water on the bench.

Herbs (Hard herbs with short stems like sage, rosemary and thyme)

Store in the fridge crisper in a sealed container lined with a damp tea towel.

Shelf life: 3 to 4 days

Tip: Chop extra herbs and freeze in water or oil in an ice tray. This will give you the perfect portion to add to recipes when cooking.

L

Leafy greens

Store in the fridge crisper drawer. Wrap in a damp tea towel in an airtight container or zip lock bag.

Shelf life: 1 to 2 weeks

Tip: Revive wilted greens by soaking in cold water.

Lettuce (iceberg)

Store on the fridge shelf in a lettuce crisper container.

Shelf life: 4 weeks

Tip: No container? Wrap whole lettuce in damp tea towel and place in an airtight container.

M

Meat

Store at the bottom of the fridge shelf to avoid leaking onto other items. Seal in an airtight container to prevent leakage.

Shelf life: 3 to 5 days

Tip: Keep track of the used by date. To make it more visible, write the use-by date larger on the packaging with a marker; it’ll help you see clearly what needs to be eaten by when.

Mushrooms

Best stored in the fridge in a paper bag.

Shelf life: 4 to 10 days

N

Nuts

Store in an airtight container in the pantry for one month, or in the fridge for six months.

Shelf life: 1 month

Tip: Nuts can be frozen to prevent them from going off.

O

Onions

Store in a cool, dark place, away from potatoes which can sprout near onions.

Shelf life: Up to 1 month

Tip: Store chives, spring onions and leeks in your fridge crisper.

P

Pasta

Store uncooked pasta on a pantry shelf in an airtight container. For cooked pasta, cool immediately and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Shelf life: For uncooked pasta, refer to best before date. For refrigerated cooked pasta, aim to consume with 1–3 days.

Tip: Store cooked pasta separate from pasta sauce; it’ll keep fresher for longer.

Pineapple

Store in the fruit bowl when whole or in the fridge when chopped.

Shelf life: 1 week

Tip: Freeze extra pineapple to add to smoothies.

Potatoes

Store in a cool, dark place, away from onions ideally in a cloth bag.

Shelf life: Up to 1 month

Tip: Sprouted potatoes are fine to eat if the potatoes are firm to touch. Just remove any sprouts.

Pumpkin

Store in a cool place in the pantry when whole. When chopped, store in the fridge crisper drawer wrapped in cling or beeswax wrap.

Shelf life: 2 to 3 weeks

R

Rice

When uncooked, store on a pantry shelf in an airtight container. Cooked rice should be served and eaten immediately. Leftover cooked rice should be quickly cooled and immediately stored in a date labeled, airtight container in your fridge or freezer. Always reheat rice until steaming (above 75ºC).

Shelf life: For refrigerated cooked rice consume within 1 day. For cooked frozen aim to consume within a month. For uncooked, refer to best before label on the package.

Did you know…

One cup of uncooked rice should make enough cooked rice for 4 adults (serving ½ cups of cooked rice).

S

Spinach

Store spinach dry in original packaging in the fridge.

Shelf life: 5 to 7 days

Tip: You can freeze spinach by washing and steaming. Squeeze out excess water, portion and place in airtight container.

Did you know…

Buying frozen vegetables means you can always have nutritious veggies on hand. Frozen vegetables are often cheaper to buy than fresh.

Stone fruit

To ripen, store in the fruit bowl on the bench. Store in the fridge crisper once ripe.

Shelf life: 2–3 weeks

Tip: Stone fruits are perfect for slicing and stewing to make a pie, have with muesli or to freeze for later.

Sweet potatoes

Store in a cool, dark place, away from onions.

Shelf life: Up to 1 month

T

Tomatoes

Store in the fruit bowl.

Shelf life: Up to 2 weeks

Tip: Tomatoes lose their flavour in the fridge.

Z

Zucchini

Store in the fridge crisper drawer, in a tea towel to prevent ‘sweating’.

Shelf life: 1 week

Did you know…

Your fridge should be set to 3 to 4ºC. The crisper draw and bottom shelf are often the coldest part of your fridge.

Food safety advice

There are a few food safety rules to make sure you stay healthy and reduce food waste.

  • Wash your hands before and frequently throughout the preparation of food.
  • Keep food out of the ‘danger zone’, where bacteria are likely to contaminate food. This is between 5 and 60ºC.
  • Prevent cross-contamination. Always keep raw meat separate from ready to eat food and fresh vegetables.
  • Make sure food (especially meat, seafood and poultry) is cooked thoroughly.
  • Don’t refreeze thawed food.

For more information on keeping your food safe, visit the Better Health Channel.