VARY YOUR VEGGIES: How to Select and Store Vegetables (FN1456, Reviewed Jan. 2015)

What veggies are in your refrigerator, freezer or pantry?

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D. Food and Nutrition Specialist

Availability: Web only

Enjoy veggies at their best with these tips.

How to select vegetables:

  • Consider the intended use. For example, canned tomatoes may be less expensive, can be kept on hand and take less time to prepare.
  • Buy in season. Vegetables that are purchased in season usually will give you the best quality and best buy.
  • Consider the storage available. Buy only what you can store and use within the recommended time.
  • Handle produce gently. The bruised parts are most likely to spoil.
  • Choose high-quality vegetables. Poor-quality vegetables usually have lower food value, less flavor and more waste.
  • Just before going to the grocery store checkout counter, pick up frozen vegetables that are frozen solid and get them to your freezer as quickly as possible.
  • Buy canned vegetables in cans without any signs of damage.
  • Dried vegetables should be in tightly sealed in undamaged packages.

How to store vegetables:

  • To maintain food value, flavor, color and texture, store them properly. Most fresh vegetables should be kept cold and humid.
  • To increase storage humidity, keep vegetables in a plastic bag or in the hydrator (crisper) compartment of the refrigerator, or both.
  • Do not refrigerate potatoes, sweet potatoes and hard-shell (winter) squash. Cold temperatures convert the starch into sugar, which affects the flavor. Store them at cool room temperatures; about 50 degrees Fahrenheit is best. Potatoes should be kept in a dark, dry place.
  • Sort vegetables before storing and remove any with bruises or soft spots.
  • If you wash vegetables before storing them, drain them well.
  • Store frozen vegetables at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower; they can be stored for eight to 12 months.
  • Store canned vegetables in a cool, dry place and use within a year for top quality.
  • Store dried vegetables in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Use them within a few months.


Eat Smart. Play Hard. Together.

Source: Adapted from “Creative Vegetable Cookery,” NDSU Extension Service; authored by Pat Beck.

Materials were partially funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Fargo, North Dakota

Reviewed Jan. 2015

Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.