We all know how important it is to eat your greens, but sometimes we bite off more than we can chew…at the grocery store, that is. And since there’s nothing fun about seeing perfectly good produce go to waste, we reached out to Jessica Randhawa, recipe developer and head chef at The Forked Spoon, to uncover the vegetables that last the longest. Here, a list of the hardiest (and healthiest) veggies around, plus how to store them properly.
13 Vegetables That Last the Longest (If You Know How to Store Them)
1. Butternut Squash
This tasty winter squash is packed with powerful antioxidants and nutrients, like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. It’s also available almost all year-long—and yep, that’s because it stores so well. In fact, this type of squash can last two to three months on the kitchen counter, and a whopping six months when stored in a cool, dry pantry.
There are many different types of pumpkins and some are better for carving than eating. The tasty ones, though, boast an impressive nutrient profile including vitamins A, B1, B6, and C, copper, fiber, folate, and manganese. Pumpkin also provides calcium, potassium and magnesium—a trio that supports healthy blood pressure and protects the heart. Best of all, an uncut pumpkin can last a full two months on a cool, dry countertop, so if you snag one at the farmer’s market you’ll have plenty of time to put it to use (and reap the rewards).
Garlic is low in calories and rich in vitamins C and B6; it also has the magical ability to make everything it touches taste better. Plus, you rarely have to worry about garlic going bad—and not just because you’re cooking with copious amounts of it. When stored somewhere cool, dark and dry, garlic can last up to six months.
Another favorite from the allium family, onions are balls of water, carbs, fiber…and flavor. (Fun fact: The main fiber in onions is healthy food for the friendly bacteria in your gut.) There are so many ways to use onions, we suggest buying a whole bag of them—just be sure to store your onions in a dark, dry place with decent airflow, so they stay fresh for over a month.
5. Kabocha Squash
Here, another winter squash that boasts impressive health benefits and staying power, to boot. Kabocha squash is loaded with vitamins A and C, as well as fiber, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants. Just like butternut squash, this Japanese variety can hang out on the kitchen counter for up to three months and can last twice as long when kept in a cool, dry pantry.
The humble potato is a versatile and oh-so satisfying tuber that provides an impressive amount of vitamins C and B6, as well as potassium, manganese and dietary fiber. Roast your potatoes, serve them baked and loaded with toppings, chop ‘em up and toss them into a hearty stew; the only rule when it comes to taters is to always keep ‘em in a cool, dark place, like a basement or root cellar, where they will survive for up to four months (Note: The fridge is too cold for potatoes, so store them at room temperature, if you must—just be sure to use them within two weeks.)
7. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are every bit as delicious as regular spuds, and they’re generally better for you, too—namely because they’re lower on the glycemic index and have tons of vitamin A. Tempted to stock up on sweet potatoes? No problem. These guys will stay fresh for over five months when placed in a brown paper bag and stored somewhere that’s cool, dark and dry. (Think: root cellar, basement, closet or pantry.)
8. Spaghetti Squash
Low in calories and nutrient dense, this is another healthy, winter squash that will keep for about two to three months at room temperature (i.e., on the kitchen counter) and six months when stored in a cool, dry pantry.
Carrots are tasty in everything from stews to salads, and they don’t even need to be cooked to satisfy a hankering for a healthy snack. Per the expert, uncut carrots will last up to four weeks in a refrigerator crisper drawer, provided you loosely wrap a paper towel or two around them to absorb any moisture they release.
This colorful root veggie is a powerhouse of nutrients (folate, manganese, potassium, iron and vitamin C, to name a few) and an excellent source of fiber. To store beets, simply cut off the leafy greens on top, and place them, unwashed, in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge. When stored in this fashion, beets will stay fresh for up to three months.
12. Winter Radish
Radishes are one of the most nutrient-dense, low-calorie veggies you can eat. They’re also happy to hang around in the fridge for a full month—just be sure to lop off the leafy green portion and loosely wrap them in a paper towel to absorb moisture before you put them in the ice box. (Psst: Get more tips for storing radishes here.)
13. Acorn Squash
When it comes to long lasting veggies, winter squash kind of dominate the competition—and acorn squash is no exception. Like the other squash on the list, this sweet and nutritious variety is liable to last for about two to three months on the kitchen counter, and a full six months when kept in a cool, dry pantry.