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Critical Storage Temperatures to Avoid for Certain Fruits and Vegetables

Critical Storage Temperatures to Avoid for Certain Fruits and Vegetables

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With the cost of food as high as it is, and to preserve the taste and nutritional benefit of vegetables and fruits, it is important to know how long food will keep its taste, texture and nutritional value using the available storage methods at home: the refrigerator, freezer, on the counter or canned. The table below lists the estimated storage life, for best quality, for various fruits, vegetables and products from these for each of the home storage methods. Canned and frozen fruit, vegetables and products may be safe beyond these dates if their packaging is intact and the temperatures were maintained; but they are likely to show degradation in text, appearance and texture.

This chart assumes that you started with ripe, but not over fruit fruit and vegetables that were not bruised, moldy, cut open or otherwise damaged. See the explanation at the bottom of the page, following the chart for more details of assumed storage conditions.

Finally, this chart is a work in progress; it is constantly being tweaked and refined, as new varieties of fruit and vegetables enter the marketplace, bring enhanced storage properties. The chart is a combination of research and my own 50 years of experience with home preserving... and there are a LOT of fruits, vegetables and forms of storage here!

Related pages



Critical Temperatures to Avoid for Certain Fruits and Vegetables

All fruits and vegetables have a 'critical temperature' below which undesirable and irreversible reactions or 'chill damage' takes place. Carrots for example blacken and become soft, and the cell structure of potatoes is destroyed. The storage temperature always has to be above this critical temperature. One has to be careful that even though the thermostat is set at a critical temperatures for various fruits and vegetables.

temperature above the critical temperature, the thermostatic oscillation in temperature does not result in storage temperature falling below the critical temperature. Even 0.5°C below the critical temperature can result in chill damage. Table 1 gives the

  Temperature °C Relative humidity % Maximum storage time recommended
(ASHRAE handbook 1982)
Storage time in cold stores for vegetables in tropical countries
Apple 0-4 90-95 2-6m -
Beetroot 0 95-99 - -
Cabbage 0 95-99 5-6m 2m
Carrots 0 98-99 5-9m 2m
Cauliflower 0 95 2-4w 1w
Cucumber 10-13 90-95    
Eggplant 8-10 90-95    
Lettuce 1 95-99    
Leeks 0 95 1-3m 1m
Oranges 0-4 85-90 3-4m  
Pears 0 90-95 2-5m  
Pumpkin 10-13 70-75    
Spinach 0 95 1-2w 1w
Tomatoes 13-21 85-90    



Freezing Injury

Temperatures that are too low can be just as damaging as those too high. Freezing will occur in all commodities below 32°F. Whether injury occurs depends on the commodity. Some can be repeatedly frozen and thawed without damage, while others are ruined by one freezing. Table 1 shows the highest freezing point for most fruits and vegetables. Table 3 lists susceptibility to freezing injury. Produce that is likely to be injured by one freezing is classified as "most susceptible." The "moderately susceptible" produce will recover from one or two freezings. Produce which is "least susceptible" can survive several freezings without injury.
Injury from freezing temperatures can appear in plant tissues as loss of rigidity, softening and water soaking. Injury can be reduced if the produce is allowed to warm up slowly to optimum storage temperatures, and if it is not handled during the thawing period. Injured produce should be marketed immediately, as freezing shortens its storage life.


Chilling Injury

Fruits and vegetables that require warmer storage temperatures (40 to 55°F) can be damaged if they are subjected to near freezing temperatures (32°F). . Both time and temperature are involved in chilling injury. Damage may occur in a short time if temperatures are considerably below the danger threshold, but some crops can withstand temperatures a few degrees into the danger zone for a longer time.Cooler temperatures interfere with normal metabolic processes. Injury symptoms are varied and often do not develop until the produce has been returned to warmer temperatures for several days. Besides physical damage, chilled produce is often more susceptible to disease infection. The table below lists susceptible fruits and vegetables,  The effects of chilling injury are cumulative in some crops. Low temperatures in transit, or even in the field shortly before harvest, add to the total effects of chilling that might occur in storage.

Crops such as basil, cucumbers, eggplants, pumpkins, summer squash, okra, and sweet potatoes are highly sensitive to chilling injury. Moderately sensitive crops are snap beans, muskmelons, peppers, winter squash, tomatoes, and watermelons. (8) These crops may look sound when removed from low temperature storage, but after a few days of warmer temperatures, chilling symptoms become evident: pitting or other skin blemishes, internal discoloration, or failure to ripen. Tomatoes, squash, and peppers that have been over-chilled may be particularly susceptible to decay such as Alternaria rot.


These products can be iced.
These items are damaged by direct contact with ice.
Green Onions
Leafy Greens
Sweet Corn
Green Beans
Bulb Onions
Romaine Lettuce



Places around the home that are suitable to store some vegetables and fruit.

Figure - Areas in a house that could be used for storage.

Cold basement storage room

(Cool, moist 33°F-40°F)




Unheated Cellar

(Cool, moist 35°F-40°F)

Pumpkins, winter squash,

ripening tomatoes

Basement Room with Furnace

(Warm, dry 55°F-60°F)



Root crops,


Basement Storage Room

(Cold 32°F-40°F) Window Well

Cool dry-onions,

canned goods

Extra refrigerator

Unheated Room


Chancey places for food storage

Attic; hot, dry to in extra cold weather

very cold, dry

Curing onions,

drying herbs








Canning Books, Supplies and Accessories

These are my favorite essential canning tools, books and supplies. I've been using many of these for over 50 years of canning! The ones below on this page are just the sampling of. my preferred tools. but you can find much more detailed and extensive selections on the pages that are linked below.

The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes Paperback

This is THE book on canning! My grandmother used this book when I was a child.; It tells you in simple instructions how to can almost anything; complete with recipes for jam, jellies, pickles, sauces, canning vegetables, meats, etc.

If it can be canned, this book likely tells you how! Click on the link below for more information and / or to buy (no obligation to buy)The New Ball Blue Book of Canning and Preserving

Canning and Preserving for Dummies by Karen Ward

This is another popular canning book. Click here for more information, reviews, prices for Canning and Preserving For Dummies

Of course, you do not need to buy ANY canning book as I have about 500 canning, freezing, dehydrating and more recipes all online for free, just see Easy Home Canning Directions.

Home Canning Kits

I have several canners, and my favorite is the stainless steel one at right. It is easy to clean and seems like it will last forever. Mine is 10 years old and looks like new.

The black ones are the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce.

This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, Jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer,  It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. It's only missing the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book.

You will never need anything else except jars & lids (and the jars are reusable)! 

The complete list of canners is on these pages:


Pressure Canners

If you plan on canning non-acidic foods and low acid foods that are not pickled - this means: meats, seafood, soups, green beans corn, most vegetables, etc., then you ABSOLUTELY must use a Pressure Canner.

Of course, you can use a pressure canner as a water bath canner as well - just don't seal it up, so it does not pressurize. This means a Pressure Canner is a 2-in-1 device. With it, you can can almost ANYTHING.

There are also other supplies, accessories, tools and more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!

Basic Canning Accessories

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter - to remove lids from the pot of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lids- disposable - you may only use them once
  4. Ring - holds the lids on the jar until after the jars cool - then you remove them, save them and reuse them
  5. Canning Jar funnel - to fill the jars

FREE Illustrated Canning, Freezing, Jam Instructions and Recipes

Don't spend money on books. that you don't need to. Almost everything you can find in some book sold online or in a store is on my website here for free. Start with theEasy Home Canning Directions below. That is a master list of canning directions which are all based upon the Ball Bblue book, the National Center for Home Food Preservation and other reputable lab tested recipes. Almost every recipe I present in addition to being lab tested com. is in a step by step format with photos for each step and complete. explanations. that tell you how to do it, where to get the supplies and pretty much everything you need to know. In addition, there almost always in a PDF format so you can print them out and use them while you cook.

[ Easy Home Canning Directions]

[FAQs - Answers to common questions and problems]

[Recommended books about home canning, jam making, drying and preserving!]

[Free canning publications to download and print]