Out of the fridge
If a fruit grew in the tropics then you can assume it won't be happy in the cold. Bananas, pineapples, mangoes, melons, lychees, pomegranates, coconuts, mangosteen, guava and papaya prefer the fruit bowl. Although watermelon & grapes are best kept in the fridge.
Fruits which prefer the cold or will longer in the fridge include apples, pears, berries, grapes and oranges. Before eating bring berries and pears to room temperature for best flavour.
Avocados are best left on the bench until almost ripe then stash them in the fridge and bring them out for a day's ripening as you need them. Using a whole avocado in one day is the best though as after they have been in the fridge they lose their flavour. To prevent them going brown in the fridge rub some olive oil or a few squeezes of lemon on the halves and leave the stone in tact.
Stone fruits are a fussy lot and if you chill them before they are ripe they will turn powdery, lose their flavour and will never be as juicy as when you leave them on the bench. Once they are ripe you can keep them in the fridge for a couple of days. Before eating leave them out to maximuse peachy goodness.
Always bring fruit to room temperature before eating so you get the best flavour.
Out of the fridge
Potatoes have thin skins and store best with their dirt, it's a natural preservative. Despite popular consumer habits it’s best to buy unwashed potatoes and store them dirty somewhere very dark. Onions, pumpkins and sweet potatoes like somewhere dark with good air circulation. Not under the kitchen sink though.
All the hardy greens like silverbeet and kale like a bit of humidity to keep them fresh and love to be wrapped in a damp cloth in the crisper. Dampen our Calico bags and store your greens in them (although please wash before you bring them back!)
Softer greens like lettuce and rocket will turn to mush and wilt at the first sign of moisture within a few days, make sure these ones are stored wrapped in a dry cloth in the fridge or on the bench in glass in the cooler months. It’s always best to eat the greens earlier in the week. Remove the green tops of carrots and beetroots or at least seperate them if you plan on using them, otherwise the leaves will suck up moisture from their roots causing the root to soften and lose flavour. No one likes limp carrots.
Herbs divide into three main assortments. In the first are the ones who hate water. Think thyme, rosemary and sage they will go mouldy when damp. In the second are the ones who dislike the cold and love being on the bench in a glass of water, summery herbs like basil and mint. Then there are the rest who like to be damp so are best wrapped in damp paper or a damp tea towel and put in the fridge, parsley, oregano, chives and coriander fall into this category. In the cooler months you can also cut their ends and keep them in a glass of water on the bench. Remember to cut their stems and change their water every day just like you would a bunch of flowers.
You can also pick your herbs all at once and store in a container although it’s best to just use the whole bunch - stem and all.
When you haven’t even unpacked the wholefoods
Sage advice that will save you money and reduce waste is that many veg will come back to life if left in chilled cold water for at least a few hours, you can do this in your (clean) kitchen sink. Watch the saddest silver beet come back to life and leave floppy carrots to re-crisp overnight. Storing carrots in water will keep them crisp a long time and prepped carrots, celery and capsicums kept in a container of water won't dry out and bend, they'll be bowl-ready all week.
Store zucchinis and squash in a calico bag or wrap in muslin cloth. The refrigerator is similar to an air conditioner. Super dehydrating.
Store live lettuces with roots in a small glass jar on the bench, they will keep crisp all week just remember to change their water.
Beans are best stored in a container (glass storage containers available at Myer are favourites).
Vegetables and Fruits are a live complex food source and should ideally be consumed fresh and raw as soon as possible after harvest as their nutrients, phytochemicals and enzymes decrease with longer storage.
Cooking with room temperature ingredients will produce a better result.
Now eat more plants.