Here are some tips for the best ways to store some key food items in your kitchen, pantry, fridge, or freezer and keep them fresh for as long as possible. Stocking your kitchen with the right items and storing them properly allows you to have ingredients on hand to prepare quick healthy meals. Proper storage also means less food waste, and food that is nutritious and safe to eat.


Surprise – tomatoes should be stored on the counter, not in the fridge! Just think of how you buy them at the grocery store. They are in the produce section, but are not refrigerated.  Cold fridge temperatures reduce flavour and make tomatoes become mealy (or mushy). I have an abundance of garden tomatoes and there are many ways to store or preserve them for well into the fall and winter. My favourite ways to preserve tomatoes is to make sauce and salsa! For quick preservation wash and dry them, put them into freezer bags whole and freeze. Tomatoes have high acidity due to their vitamin C or ascorbic acid content and do not need to be blanched first.  The next time you are making a sauce, soup, or stew just take out frozen tomatoes and run them under warm water – like magic the skin will peel away, and you can add them to your favourite dish for extra flavour, tang, fibre and disease fighting vitamin C and lycopene.


For best storage remove the carrot greens or tops, or they will continue to draw energy or nutrients from the carrot root.  Carrot greens or tops are edible, nutritious and can make a great addition to soups and stews. Picked carrots are best kept in the fridge. After washing them be sure to let them air dry before placing in a plastic bag in the fridge. An important trick to keep carrots from spoiling, or molding is to puncture holes in the bag they are stored in first. Carrots need to breathe, and if they are sealed tight in a freezer bag they will spoil more quickly. Carrots can last up to one month in the fridge, if they are stored properly. They are also a crop that can be left in the ground and harvested well into the fall.


Some fruits, like bananas continue to ripen once they have been picked because they produce a gas called ethylene. To ripen bananas, place them in a brown bag at room temperature. Plastic bags do not work to ripen bananas, and instead trap moisture leading to quicker spoilage. To stop the ripening, bananas can be placed in the refrigerator. The skin may become dark coloured in the fridge, but they are still good to eat on the inside. If you have very ripe bananas, you do not need to throw them out, they are fantastic for baking. If you don’t have time to bake right away, bananas can be frozen and in a freezer bag or container, thawed and used later. After thawing don’t drain the liquid or your banana muffins or bread will be dry.


They store best in the fridge and will stay crunchy. Apples will go soft or mushy much faster when kept at room temperature, because the enzymes in the fruit are more active. Apples can last four or more weeks in perforated plastic bags in crispers.


The great news is that packaged (dry and canned) lentils keep well on your cupboard shelf for up to a year. But, there are so many great way to use lentils they probably won’t stay on your shelf that long! Cooked lentils and lentil puree can be frozen and used within three months, or refrigerated for up to one week. Be sure that they are sealed tight in air-tight containers or plastic bags.  I like to freeze lentils  in one cup portions to use in baking, adding to salads, soups, sauces, curries, stews, making into hummus and even smoothies.


The best place to store bread is in the freezer. The staling process begins as soon as the bread is taken out of the oven! Bread will mold easily if stored on the counter top, will stale and become crumbly when kept in the fridge, but will keep the freshest when frozen. Remove excess air from the bread bag when freezing and place a secondary paper bag on top of the plastic bag, this will help prevent excess moisture from getting to the bread and help stop ice crystals from forming inside the plastic bread bag. Bread can be kept frozen for up to three months.