How To Properly Store Potatoes, Tomatoes, Onion and Garlic

August 8, 2012

We’re back in the kitchen today. I’m liking it in here. I may even stay the week, heck!

We’re backtracking from yesterday a bit– from cooking tools to ingredients, in particular the potato, onion, garlic, and tomato clan. It seems you little cumquats are perplexed as far as the storage of such produce goes. Live Simply wand *** here to ease your woes.


Resist that urge to throw your sack a’ potatoes in the fridge. You might think that since potatoes are hard as rocks they don’t have feelings, but they do (potatoes have feelings, too). Turns out the fridgy offends their sensibilities, and they’ll retaliate by turning their starch into sugar, which will make for a strange and off-putting sweetness upon cooking.

Potatoes are happiest when stored in a cool, dry, dark place, so says the resident expert on the matter– Idaho Potato. You think you know more than them about spuds? Ha!

Onions and garlic

Onions are like ogres, and being many layered, they have a touch of the sensitive streak. Put them in the fridge and your crisp, crunchy onion will begin to wilt and soften until it resembles, not what would that be? You tell me.

Onions prefer the milder climate of a warm, dry countertop, perhaps a spot where it can catch some late afternoon rays. After cutting, you have the produce god’s blessing to refrigerate.

Garlic should also be stored at room temperature; whole heads will have a shelf life of approximately a month. Once separated, cloves will last around two weeks.


Tomatoes are just clearly fragile, and if you’re missing that then you’re most likely missing out on lots more.

I, however, am well attuned to such things; when, upon a transporting of goods trip, a lone red fruit ended up sharing a box with a Sony Playstation 2, I most concernedly commented, “I really hope my tomato will be okay.” My companion turned to me in utter disbelief– greater concern for the state of the tomato than the $500 gaming device, was, apparently, unwarranted. I have yet to understand why.

Tomatoes and refrigeration, back to that: don’t do it. Cold causes sir tomato to become soft and mealy, and really, what’s worse than a mealy tomato?

These red fellas like to relax at room temperature, out of direct sunlight.

And now for some storage options:

1. Mount wire or wicker baskets to the wall or to a pegboard.

2. Designate a special drawer just for uncooperative produce.

3. Place bins or baskets on the shelves of your pantry or out on the counters.

4. These are really a category all their own, and I hear they’re the bee’s knees, even though like, what does that mean? Vegetable keep sacks. Cotton, machine washable, easily hung on the wall or a rail. Protects from sunlight and encourages the natural progression of use; drop newly purchased produce in at the top, open the drawstring at the bottom to fetch one out.

*One final note: it turns out that storing potatoes with onions is a n0-no. So say the food scientists: close proximity of these two vegetables causes the production of gases which accelerates the spoiling of both. Classic case of rotten roommates.

Image credits: unknown, BBC Willow House, nine MSN, Martha Stewart, BHG, BHG, Mini Manor BlogSolutions, Chef’s Catalogue, Orka by Mastrad


Annie Traurig was born with the ability to see order through clutter. As a child, she spent playdates organizing friends’ closets and packing their duffle bags for summer camp.

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  1. Dawn {The Alternative Wife} on August 8, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    OMG those veggie keep sacks are amazing!!! And so interesting…I didn’t know that you shouldn’t store tomatoes in the fridge. I’m good on everthing else but I guess I’ve been eating mealy tomatoes all this time. Thanks for the tip, love! 🙂 xoxo

  2. little white whale on August 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I love the idea of attaching wire baskets to the wall for veggies and fruits!

  3. Paula on June 5, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    I can’t find the canisters for Potatoe onions and garlic where can I purchase them?

  4. […] How To Properly Store Potatoes, Tomatoes, Onion, and Garlic (Live Simply by Annie) | Produce, Storage […]

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