Temperature Control: Refrigeration

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The most effective way to prolong the storage life of fresh produce is to control its temperature. Cooling slows chemical reactions in general, so it slows the metabolic activity of the plant cells themselves, and the growth of the microbes that attack them. A reduction of just 10°F/5°C can nearly double storage life. However, the ideal storage temperature is different for different fruits and vegetables. Those native to temperate climates are best kept at or near the freezing point, and apples may keep for nearly a year if the storage atmosphere is also controlled. But fruits and vegetables native to warmer regions are actually injured by temperatures that low.