Fruits and Vegetables You Should Never Store Together (Unless You Want Them to Spoil Faster) (2024)

Oil and water. Two constantly-squabbling siblings. A flaky croissant and your freshly-cleaned bed sheets.

Certain things are better kept at a distance, including certain fruits and vegetables you should never store together. Sure, it’s easy to toss your entire farmers market or supermarket haul into the same crisper drawer or two, it’s not your best strategy to extend the life of your ingredients. But since fruits and veggies aren’t exactly shouting at each other, for example, or crumbling into pieces atop your crisp white sheets, how do you know which fruits and vegetables you should never store together?

To help us all store in a savvier way and max out the lifespan of our produce investments, we asked our Test Kitchen experts and other culinary pros for their guidance about which fruits and veggies are friends—and which are freshness foes.

  • Meggan Hill, executive chef and CEO of Culinary Hill
  • Lauren Grant-Vose, founder of Zestful Kitchen
  • Chris Meyer, Dotdash Meredith Test Kitchen administrative assistant

The Fruits and Vegetables You Should Never Store Together

Some fruits and vegetables need to be stored separately due to varying temperature requirements. For example, cucumbers last the longest when stored between 50 to 54 degrees F instead of the usual fridge temp of 35 to 40 degrees F, while tomatoes prefer room temp, and grapes thrive between 32 and 36 degrees F.

Other fruits and veggies are best at a distance so they don't transfer odors from one to another; onions and garlic, for instance, can overpower the taste or smell of apples, pears, carrots, celery, and others.

Those fruit and vegetable storage tips are much easier to assume than what Meggan Hill, executive chef and CEO of Culinary Hill deems is the “main rule” to produce storage success: “Separate high-ethylene producers from ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables,” she says. “It’s important to know which fruits and vegetables produce high or moderate amounts of natural ethylene gas and which are sensitive to it. This will allow you to maximize freshness and reduce spoilage.”

Ethylene is a gas that certain fruits and vegetables emit to cause them to ripen. Without ethylene, that under-ripe rock-hard avocado would remain that rock hard, rather than transforming into its luscious buttery, spreadable, or mashable consistency.

Since ethylene speeds up the ripening—and spoiling—process for certain fruits and vegetables, “when stored too close to each other, ethylene-rich produce can cause ethylene-sensitive produce to ripen too quickly and cause rapid deterioration,” Lauren Grant-Vose, founder of Zestful Kitchen adds.

For this reason, Chris Meyer, Dotdash Meredith Test Kitchen administrative assistant, recommends keeping ethylene-producers at least 6 to 8 inches away from the fruits and vegetables sensitive to ethylene gas.

Related: How to Freeze Vegetables From the Garden or Market

Fruits and Vegetables You Should Never Store Together (Unless You Want Them to Spoil Faster) (1)

Ethylene-Producing Fruits and Vegetables

According to the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Center for Community Health, the following produce high amounts of natural ethylene gas.

“To be safe, just store the ethylene-producers away from other produce, by themselves, and not in sealed bags or containers,” Grant-Vose suggests.

  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes

“Celery, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes also produce a moderate amount of ethylene,” Hill adds.

Meyer says that there are some storage containers and produce-saver sheets that can help absorb ethylene; try using these inside your crisper drawer if you have any of the above items in-stock.

Ethylene-Sensitive Fruits and Vegetables

On the flip side, these items are ones that UCSD says are sensitive to ethylene. Grant-Vose notes that circulation is key to extending the life of ethylene-sensitive items, so it is wise to remove the following in sealed containers or bags.

Some of the ethylene-producers noted above are also ethylene-sensitive, and we’ve noted those below in bold.

“If a fruit or veggie is both an ethylene-producer and ethylene-sensitive, store the produce in a single layer rather than stacked or piled into bowls,” Grant-Vose says. (This means that displaying a beautiful bowl of apples on your counter is not the wisest idea for maximum fruit lifespan.)

  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard Greens
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Lemons and Limes
  • Lettuce
  • Mangos
  • Melons (cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew)
  • Onions
  • Pears
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Stone Fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, cherries)
  • Sweet Potatoes

33 Fruits and Veggies You Should Refrigerate and 7 You Shouldn’t

Fruits and Vegetables That Are Not Ethylene-Sensitive

While we’re continuing to learn more about the fruits and veggies that can play nicely together, the current scientific consensus is that the following items are not extremely ethylene-sensitive, so should be okay to store with other produce section selections.

  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Garlic
  • Grapefruit
  • Green Beans
  • Oranges
  • Pineapple
  • Potatoes
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes

Fruits and Vegetables You Should Never Store Together (Unless You Want Them to Spoil Faster) (2)

7 Bonus Tips for How to Make Produce Last Longer

Now that you have our ultimate guide to the fruits and vegetables you should never store together, we couldn’t let our pro panel go without asking them to spill about other ways to slow spoilage and lengthen the life of your fresh garden goodies.

  • Flip out. We swear by an old restaurant trick: FIFO, which stands for “first in, first out.” When you put something new in, whether it's produce or leftovers, place it closer to the back, and bring something older towards the front, Grant-Vose says. “Doing this allows you to keep an eye on your inventory and helps you keep track of what's fresh and what's a bit older and ready to be used.”
  • Towel off. Paper towels are a wise, budget-friendly tool to help extend the life of many produce items. “Berries, lettuce greens, snap peas, and herbs can all benefit from a paper towel being placed in the storage container,” Grant-Vose says. “Replace the paper towel with a fresh one occasionally if needed.”
  • Time the rinse cycle right. If you can wait, it’s best to wash fruits and vegetables right before you eat or serve them, Hill advises. When you get fruits and vegetables home from the market, dry off any moisture before storing them. “Moisture can contribute to spoilage and can encourage bacterial growth,” Hill says.
  • Let ‘em breathe. Along with being dry, most produce benefits from circulating air, so store veggies in paper bags or bags with holes—not an airtight plastic bag, Hill suggests.
  • Go whole. Instead of cutting, shredding, or slicing immediately after purchase or harvest, keep fruits, vegetables, and herbs whole for as long as possible, Grant-Vose says.
  • Mind your onions. Even though both onions and potatoes should both be stored in a cool, dark place outside of the refrigerator, “do not store onions and potatoes together,” Hill warns “Onions release moisture which will lead to mushy potatoes with eyes or roots.”
  • Trim the tops. When produce comes with green tops, such as carrots or beets, trim the tops immediately. (Don’t toss them, though! Blitz the leaves into beet or carrot top pesto.) If you leave the tops attached, they can drain moisture, resulting in veggies that are limp or dry.

The Bottom Line

Temperature, smell, and ethylene gas production levels (or sensitivities) can be your guide when considering which fruits and vegetables to store together.

“The easiest rule to follow is to just store like produce together,” Grant-Vose says. “Berries can be stored together, brassica vegetables can be stored together, leafy greens can be together, and most root vegetables (except potatoes) can go together.”

If you’d like to keep your fruits and vegetables beyond their usual best-by date, consider preservation. Check out our Test Kitchen’s canning basics to help you preserve produce for up to a year.

How to Store Berries to Keep Them Fresh Up to 5 Days Longer

Fruits and Vegetables You Should Never Store Together (Unless You Want Them to Spoil Faster) (2024)


Fruits and Vegetables You Should Never Store Together (Unless You Want Them to Spoil Faster)? ›

The Fruits and Vegetables You Should Never Store Together

Why can't fruits and vegetables be stored together? ›

When certain fruits and vegetable are stored together, they cause early spoilage. When fruits approach maturity, they release ethylene. Ethylene promotes the ripening of fruit. It can cause premature ripening in some foods, while in others it can actually cause damage.

Why is it not advisable to store fruits and vegetables together? ›

It is important to store fruits and vegetables separately because some fruits give off a gas called ethylene glycol which quickens ripening and may cause spoilage in some vegetables. Also, some fruits absorb odors from vegetables making them unpalatable.

What fruits and vegetables should not be stored together? ›

While we'd love if all fruits and veggies could get along, these are some of our favorite produce combos that shouldn't be stored near each other: Apples and Avocados. Bananas and Mangoes. Tomatoes and Cucumbers.

Why do fruits and vegetables spoil easily? ›

Moisture content and temperature are the two factors that cause the spoilage of food. When the moisture content is more and the temperature is high, food tend to spoil faster. In the rainy season, the amount of moisture in the air is more.

Is it okay to store fruits and vegetables together? ›

Ethylene-Producing Fruits and Vegetables

To be safe, just store the ethylene-producers away from other produce, by themselves, and not in sealed bags or containers,” Grant-Vose suggests. “Celery, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes also produce a moderate amount of ethylene,” Hill adds.

Can fruits and vegetables be stored together? ›

One of the most common mistakes that leads to food spoilage is storing fruits and vegetables too close together. A build-up of ethylene gas will cause them to go bad.

What fruit should not be stored together? ›

Do you remember the old saying "one bad apple spoils the bunch?" It turns out it's true that apples help other fruits ripen more quickly and this is the reason they shouldn't be stored together. Kiwis, mangoes, bananas and other ethylene-producing fruit can result in early spoilage and lead to food waste.

What two vegetables should not be stored together? ›

  • Keep Onions Away From Apples and Potatoes.
  • Store Melons Solo.
  • Keep Cauliflower Away From Apples, Kiwis, and Onions.
  • Place Mushrooms Away From Pungent Foods.
  • Use Your Crisper Drawer.
  • Separate Ethylene Producers and Ethylene Sensitive Produce.
Aug 5, 2022

Why is it important to store fruits and vegetables separately? ›

Ethylene is a natural gas that some fruits and vegetables emit, accelerating ripening and, unfortunately, spoilage. Apples, bananas, and tomatoes are high ethylene producers, while leafy greens and potatoes are ethylene-sensitive. Keep them separated to avoid premature spoilage.

Can tomatoes and bananas be stored together? ›

This pair is actually on the list of what fruit and veggies not to store together. Fruits and vegetables that do a lot of ripening after they're picked, such as tomatoes, bananas, kiwis and honeydew melons, are best stored apart.

Can you put apples and bananas together? ›

Many ripening fruit produce the hydrocarbon gas ethylene as they ripen, which itself triggers more ripening. Bananas are especially productive sources of the gas, and putting one that's in the process of going brown next to apples, pears or hard avocados will greatly speed up their ripening.

Should onions and potatoes be stored together? ›

Answer. The storage guidelines for potatoes, onions, and garlic are similar in that they all can be stored in a cool, dry, dark and ventilated area, however, potatoes should not be stored with onions because they emit ethylene gas which speeds ripening and hastens potatoes to sprout and spoil.

Which vegetables spoil fastest? ›

  • Tomato.
  • Cabbage.
  • Spinach.
  • Beans.
  • Mushrooms.
Oct 10, 2021

What food spoils the fastest? ›

Perishable foods storage tips
FoodTime in the fridge
raw poultry1–2 days
raw fish and shellfish1–2 days
raw steaks, chops, and roasts3–5 days
bacon7 days
7 more rows
May 31, 2022

What vegetables last longer out of the fridge? ›

Winter squash, like spaghetti squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, and acorn squash (among others) are much harder than summer varieties, like zucchini and yellow squash. Because of their hard exterior, they last much longer at room temperature. Store your squash unrefrigerated, in a cool, dry place.

Can you store fruits and vegetables in the same drawer? ›

Fruit & veggies are frenemies

Avoid storing them in the same drawer in your fridge. Many fruits give off ethylene gas as part of their natural ripening process – especially apples, berries, pears, peaches, and apples. Unfortunately ethylene gas also ripens vegetables as well as it does fruits.

Can you store apples and oranges together in the fridge? ›

That is because fruits release ethylene gas, which spoils things faster. It is best to store your apples in the fridge and oranges should be stored away from apples. Also, it is best to put oranges in a mesh bag to allow the air to circulate around them.

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