A workers' cooperative growing food on London's edge in the Lea Valley

Storing Organic Fruit and Veg

Here are some recommendations from Tolhurst Organic in Berkshire

Organic fruit needs to be treated differently from conventional fruit; it will not keep as long as it is not chemically treated for storage. As consumers you need to learn more about how to store and use organic fruit. So please observe the following:

Oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and apples should be fine in a cool room for at least a week. In a hot room they could go off very quickly. Apples kept cool and dark will keep much longer.

Kiwi – These are usually unripe and will ripen slowly in a warm (16C) room. You can feel when they are starting to get soft they are usually at there best, this could take several weeks sometimes depending on the condition they arrive in.

Bananas – these have to be harvested green for the 7-10 day boat trip from the Caribbean. On arrival in UK they go into special ripening stores where they are held at 14C. Our suppliers Choice Organic in London have recently installed such a ripening room for bananas. So usually they come to us ready ripened with just a hint of green this allows a few days for consumer use. Sometimes due to problems of supply shortages they may not have been fully ripened before they arrive with us so we have to send them out green. They will ripen providing you:

  • Wrap in plastic
  • Place in dark place
  • Keep at 14C

They will ripen within a week or so. At cooler temperatures they will slowly ripen but loose flavour and become woody. Skin colour is not necessarily an indication of ripeness. The very richest flavour will be attained if the skin has dark brown spots (like freckles) all over it. In this condition they are at their tastiest, many people assume they are inedible at this stage or use them for cooking. For this reason we do not send them out at this stage.

Avocados – treat these in the same way as mango, do not squeeze the flesh as this will cause the fruit to become bruised and rot.


Much like the fruit, attention needs to be taken in order to store vegetables correctly and get the best longevity from the produce.

Potatoes & Roots – the most important thing to remember when storing your roots such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips etc is to keep them cool and dark. Ideally you should never wash your veg’ before storing, the soil acts as a natural preservative and washing them will cause them to go off far quicker. Keep them wrapped in brown paper and keep in somewhere like a cool, dark cupboard. The optimum temperature is 5 degrees.

If stored correctly your spuds will last many months, and if they begin to sprout, don’t worry they are still edible, just nock them off!

Beetroot on the other hand keeps best in the fridge, keeping them solid for longer.

Leafy Greens – keep in the fridge, wrapping in a plastic bag will also help to keep them succulent and fresh.

Onions – these keep easily, cool, dry and airy will do the trick.

Squash – keep at room temperature with air to breath, too much moisture may cause them to go off. If you do notice mould occurring cut it off and the remanding squash will still be good to eat.