Storing, handling and using fresh fruit & vegetables
How we store, handle and use our fresh fruit and vegetables has an impact on our environment. Correctly stored produce lasts longer, which is great for your budget, and means less waste. Also, fresher produce tastes better!
Fruit & vegetable sustainability tips
- Store your produce correctly (visit our Storage Tips section on the main Sustainability Information page)
- Use as much of the fruit and vegetables as possible (visit our root-to-stem cooking on the main Sustainability Information page)
- Use a compost bin or worm farm for fruit and vegetable scraps
- Try to grow your own fruit and vegetables (salad greens and herbs are good to start with)
- Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables
- Try to buy New Zealand-grown produce that is in season
- Take your reusable bags when shopping for fruit and vegetables
- Plan your meals and buy only what you need
Save your paper bags and plastic bread bags to help store some of your fruit and vegetables. Cloth or mesh bags also work well for storing refrigerated produce.
Store these at room temperature in the fruit bowl
Fruit that you plan to eat within a few days like apples, pears and kiwifruit last well in a fruit bowl. To keep longer, store them in the fridge.
Bananas should be ripened at room temperature and eaten once ripe.
Fruit than needs to ripen like summerfruit (peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots) should be stored at room temperature then refrigerated once ripe.
Tomatoes retain their flavour better at room temperature.
Fruit that produces ethylene like bananas, apples, pears, kiwifruit and summerfruit should be stored separately if you don’t want these to ripen in a hurry.
Store these in a cool, dark place (pantry)
Remove from bags and store potatoes, kūmara, onions and garlic in the pantry. Keep potatoes and onions apart.
Store these in the crisper drawer in the fridge
Vegetables including leafy greens, brassicas, carrots, parsnip should be stored in a bag in the crisper drawer in the fridge.
Asparagus – stand in a glass with a little water in it and loosely cover the tips
Fruit that you want to keep longer than a few days:
- Make sure fruit is dry when you store it
- Store fruit separately from vegetables as the ethylene it produces can make vegetables spoil more quickly
Berries – make sure you have ventilation holes or lift the container lid to allow air circulation
Keep herbs fresh with a damp paper towel around their stems.
Store mushrooms in a paper bag.
Don’t forget the freezer
For produce you can’t use while it’s at it’s best, try freezing it.
- Squeeze lemon and other citrus juice into ice cube trays
- Blanch vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, spinach before freezing. To blanch, cook veges in boiling water for 1 minute before plunging into iced water. This process helps vegetables retain their nutrients and bright colour
- Herbs can be chopped and frozen in ice cube trays with a little water or oil (these are great for stews and soups)
- Peel bananas before freezing
Root to stem cooking
Root to stem cooking is about using the parts of fruit and vegetables that are often thrown away. Not only does this reduce food waste but we benefit from the nutrients in the skin and stems of fruit and vegetables.
Broccoli & cauliflower stems – turn them into rice using a food processor or slice them into match sticks to add to a stir fry.
Kūmara and potato peels – scrub the vegetables and leave the skins on for extra fibre or toss the skins with olive oil and roast in the oven (you can store the skins tossed in olive oil in the fridge for a day or two.)
Save the leafy tops of beetroot, carrots, celery and asparagus ends to make a stock or blend the leaves into sauces and pestos.
Pumpkin skin softens when cooked. Try roasting it with the skin on. Pumpkin seeds can be washed and roasted in the oven for a crunchy snack.
Overripe fruit can be stewed for a dessert or used in baking. It can also be made into jam using chia seeds to set it rather than sugar.
Kiwifruit can be eaten with the skin on. Try using the skin in a smoothie for added flavour and fibre
Remember to use lemon and orange peel – use the zest to flavour water, add to baking and salad dressings.