Handling and Storing Fruits and Vegetables at Home Guidelines for Storing Produce Harvest fruits and vegetables at optimum maturity for best storage. Only a few fruits ripen after harvest. Use produce that is free from evidence of disease or severe insect damage. Avoid cutting or bruising.
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Fruits and vegetables come from all parts of a plant:
Development Breakdown Death
Growth_ _ _ _
_ _ _____Maturation
_ _ Ripening_ _ _
_ _ _ _Senescence
These fruits are most commonly consumed as if they were vegetables: cucumber, tomato, eggplant and avocado.
And rhubarb, a vegetable, is most commonly consumed as if it were a fruit!
Harvested fruits and vegetables are living structures.
Glucose + O2 CO2 + H2O + Heat
Tissues lose water as they breathe
(blueberries, cherries, citrus, cucumbers, grapes, pineapple, strawberries)
Refrigeration slows respiration, extending shelf life and preserving quality. The right temperature can maintain the proper starch-sugar balance.
Sweet Corn & Peas: sugar is desired in these crops; warm temperatures allow sugar to be converted to starch store cool (38ºF)
Potatoes: starch is desired; cold temperatures allow breakdown of starch to sugar store warm (52º F)
toxic products to accumulate
in the tissue, and cells die.
Store these crops at room temperature for best quality.
Maintain the natural waxy cuticle – an edible wax is applied to tomatoes, cucumbers, citrus fruits, apples and turnips.
Package to maintain moisture
Lower the temperature to reduce respiration and transpiration water losses.Quality & Water Content
Avocadoes, bananas, pears and other fruits can be forced to go through some changes associated with ripening by exposing them to ethylene gas.
At home, hasten ripening of fruits by enclosing them in a paper bag!Induce Ripening with Ethylene
Do not attempt to preserve damaged produce!
See Storing Vegetables and Fruits at Home (Washington State EB1326)
Avoid foodborne illness with careful handling