How long do vegetables last?
Do you buy fresh veggies at the farmers market? Harvest them from your own garden? Freeze lots of food in the fridge? Save leftovers from big holiday feasts? Whatever the case, you should know the shelf life and proper storage of fruits and vegetables, to prevent spoilage and waste. Plant-based foods are all about freshness, flavor, and nutrition.
So, to get the most of that goodness from your greens, here’s the lowdown on how long veggies last:
1. Fresh Veggies
The fresher the healthier: Fruits and vegetables straight from the farm or garden are super high in nutrition. How you store them —temperature, water, the air around them — is important for maintaining their vitamins, minerals, flavor, and appearance. Basically, you should keep veggies at the lowest temperature they can withstand without injury.
Store them right: Some vegetables like to be kept at above freezing (broccoli, kale, peas) in the fridge, while others like temperatures a little higher (eggplant, onions, pumpkins). Humidity matters too: Transpiration (loss of water) affects how long fruits and veggies last; some like it cold and humid (honeydew melon, peppers, sweet potatoes), and others prefer cool and dry (garlic, onions, pumpkins). For reference, keep these handy charts from Vegetable Gardener in your kitchen:
2. Frozen Veggies
Fresh to frozen offers variety: Fresh fruits and veggies are seasonal, so freezing them when they’re available lets you enjoy them year-round. When frozen at their peak of freshness — especially if “flash frozen” (frozen quickly at extremely cold temperatures) — and stored in freezer-safe containers at a constant temperature, they retain their nutrients. And, if they were properly stored beforehand, they can last in the freezer for 8 to 10 months.
What about packaged frozen? The shelf life of store-bought frozen vegetables depends on the preparation method and how they were stored before freezing. Your first hint is the “best by date” (best if used by) stamped on the package. But, that isn’t an expiration date, so you can use the vegetables past that date if they still look and taste good.
Veestro does fresh frozen: Veestro’s plant-based, preservative-free meals are delivered to you fresh frozen to seal in their nutrients, and they will last up to 8 weeks in the freezer and one week in the fridge.
3. Cooked Veggies
Love leftovers! You can store cooked veggies in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. If stored much longer, mold might develop. Bear in mind that fruits and vegetables with higher water content (cucumber, strawberry, tomato) lose their flavor and quality faster than lower-water varieties (garlic, lima bean, potato), and seasonings added during cooking can shorten the storage time. So, freeze any extras right away for healthy leftovers later!
Learn more about War on Waste: Are Fresh Veggies Healthier than Frozen?
“The Shelf Life of Fresh Vegetables: How Long Do Fresh Vegetables Last?” and “The Shelf Life of Frozen Vegetables: How Long Do Frozen Vegetables Last?” EatByDate “How Long Do Cooked Vegetables Keep?” Reference, IAC Publishing