VARY YOUR VEGGIES: How to Select and Store Vegetables (FN1456, Reviewed April 2020)

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

Filed under: food-preparation, food
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