Q.: What’s the best way to store fresh produce? Is it safe for any fruits and vegetables to be left out of the refrigerator?
— M.H., Lake Township
A.: In general all produce needs to be kept refrigerated at 40 degrees, so that it will remain fresh longer and not spoil. It also is extremely important to refrigerate any cut produce.
The exception to this rule would be any food that you want to ripen. Bananas are best stored on the countertop. Under-ripe tomatoes also do well on a countertop or windowsill, as well as stone fruit like peaches or nectarines, provided they are unripe when you purchase them.
For best practices, however, only leave out what you plan to consume within a day or two. Fresh produce is perishable and refrigeration retards spoilage. It also stops bacterial growth.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, harmful bacteria may be in the soil or water where produce is grown and may contaminate fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce also may become contaminated during storage or preparation. Eating contaminated produce can lead to food poisoning.
Got a food question? Lisa Abraham has the answer. Call 330-996-3737; email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Ask Lisa” in the subject line; or write to her at 44 E. Exchange St., P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640. Please include your name (initials will be printed on request), hometown and phone number.