PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Summer fruits and vegetables are juicy and vivacious, with a variety of flavors and textures that keep mealtimes exciting all season long.
However, while the high water content of tomatoes, melons, peaches, cucumbers, zucchini, and other in-season produce helps keep us hydrated in hot weather, it also causes these fruits and vegetables to spoil faster than most.
Here are the best ways to store summer crops in your home kitchen:
Corn on the cob
Corn is best eaten right away. However, if you need to store it for two or three days, leave the husks on and store the ears in an open or loosely tied silicone or plastic bag.
Pick through the green beans first, and discard any moldy, mushy, or shriveled ones. Store unwashed, whole green beans in a plastic or silicone bag in your refrigerator's crisper drawer for up to a week.
Tender herbs (parsley, cilantro, tarragon, lemon balm, and basil)
Do not rinse basil before storing. Rinse other tender herbs under cool running water, gently shake or pat them dry, then trim a little bit off the stem ends.
Fill a glass or jar with one inch of water and place the herbs in the glass or jar, stem-side down.
Keep fresh basil at room temperature, making sure to keep the leaves dry; store all other tender herbs in the refrigerator, covered loosely with plastic wrap or a plastic bag.
Replace the water every day or two to prevent the stems from getting moldy.
Eggplant, cucumbers, peppers, and summer squash
Refrigerate these vegetables in separate plastic or silicone bags, left open or punctured with a piece of dry paper towel in each, or store them loosely in the crisper drawer, checking daily for signs of mold or spoilage.
Peppers, summer squash, and cucumbers will stay fresh for up to one week, but eggplants will only last for about four days.
Let whole melons ripen fully at room temperature, then slice or cube them and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Peaches, plums, and nectarines
Let the fruits ripen completely at room temperature, either in a paper bag or on a shaded spot on your kitchen counter, then store them loose or in an open container in the refrigerator.
Ripe stone fruits will last in the fridge for up to five days.
Pears and early apples
Let pears ripen completely at room temperature (until they're fragrant and give slightly when you press on the skin near a stem end). Store apples and ripe pears in separate plastic or silicone bags in the refrigerator.
Remove the stems of larger tomatoes, and store them upside-down on a cutting board at room temperature until they're fully ripened.
Eat ripe tomatoes as soon as possible, or, if you can't enjoy them right away, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
For best flavor and texture, let refrigerated tomatoes come to room temperature before eating.
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