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Eating Before It Spoils: The Shelf Life of Fresh Produce

eating produce
Dr. Geoffrey Harris, MD

We’ve talked about how to properly store your fruits and veggies, and we’ve explained how some produce can make other produce go bad before it’s time. This is the third part of that trinity: the shelf life of fresh produce

When to Eat Produce

Not all fruits and vegetables stay fresh for the same amount of time. Some produce needs to be eaten quickly because it spoils fast, while other produce will last longer. By planning when to eat the produce you have purchased you can prevent spoiling. Here are some suggestions for when certain fruits and vegetables should be eaten. Using these recommendations, you can plan your meals between trips to the grocery.

These are only estimates of how long fresh produce should last. These recommendations are meant for ripe, ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables. You should adjust the recommendations to account for any necessary ripening time. Furthermore, the time fresh produce will last also depends on how long it has been sitting on store shelves. Try to shop at stores with high turnover so that produce doesn’t sit for too long.

Above all, don’t eat produce if it is moldy, has a slimy feel or if it’s overly soft or discolored.

Eaten within First 2-3 Days

Artichokes
Asparagus
Avocados (once ripe)
Bananas (once ripe)
Basil
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Berries
Cherries
Corn
Figs
Mushrooms
Red Peppers

Eaten within 3-5 Days

Apricots
Broccoli
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Grapes
Kiwis
Lettuce
Nectarines
Pineapple
Plums
Spinach

Produce That Can Last a Week

Green Peppers
Brussels Sprouts
Cauliflower
Grapefruit
Lemons
Lettuce
Melons
Oranges
Peaches
Pears
Plums
Sweet Potatoes
Tomatoes

Produce with a Longer Shelf Life

Apples
Cabbage
Carrots
Celery
Garlic
Jicama
Onions
Oranges
Pomegranates
Potatoes
Radishes

Incompatable Produce

If you find that your fresh produce isn’t lasting as long, you might be storing incompatible produce together. Consider separating certain fruits and vegetables from the rest of your produce as they can spoil other items faster. The produce that tends to accelerate the ripening and spoiling of other fruits and vegetables are  the so called “gas producers” because they produce ethylene gas that ripens/spoils other fruit and vegetables.

Read a full story on how that happens here.

Apples
Apricots
Avocados
Bananas
Cantaloupe
Figs
Garlic
Honeydew
Onions
Nectarines
Peaches
Pears
Plums
Tomatoes

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