How to preserve vegetables without a fridge

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How to preserve vegetables without a fridge?”, and discuss the different methods of preserving vegetables without a fridge.

How to preserve vegetables without a fridge 

Vegetables can be preserved without a fridge by :

  • Using proper storage temperature and humidity.
  • Storing ethylene producing and ethylene absorbing vegetables separately.
  • Using techniques such as pickling and dehydration for long term storage

Selecting the right vegetables to preserve without a fridge

It is important to select the proper vegetables to preserve without a fridge.

  • Purchase fresh vegetables: Once vegetables are refrigerated once, they perish faster at room temperature. Always purchase fresh vegetables.
  • Do not wash the vegetables before storage: Washing vegetables before storage increases the moisture which causes microbial growth and faster spoilage.
  • Pick and choose fresh, unspoilt vegetables: Do not buy bruised, overly ripe vegetables since they will perish faster.          

Storage conditions for vegetables without a fridge

Vegetables that are not refrigerated must always be stored away from direct sunlight. Other factors to be considered are :

  • Storage temperature: Optimum storage temperature depends on the type of vegetable.
  • Storage humidity: Most vegetables require a humid atmosphere to avoid drying out.
  •  Light intensity: Most vegetables must be kept in dark places to prevent spoilage. If vegetables such as onions are kept in sunlight, they will sprout.
  • Ethylene sensitivity: Ethylene sensitive vegetables must be stored away from ethylene producing fruits and vegetables.

Storage temperature

Most vegetables preserve well in cool temperatures. Generally, vegetables harvested in the warm season could be stored at higher temperatures than vegetables grown in the cool season.

Ethylene and spoilage

Ethylene is a colourless, odourless gas released by certain fruits and vegetables during the ripening process. Fruits and vegetables are either ethylene producers or absorbers.

It is important to store ethylene producing fruits and vegetables away from ethylene sensitive ones.

For example bananas, apples and melons are ethylene producers while cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are ethylene absorbers.

Effects of ethylene on vegetables

Effect of ethylene varies from one type of vegetable to another. Ethylene will have the following effects on these common vegetables :

  • Green leaves and broccoli: Yellowing
  • Potatoes: Sprouting
  • Carrots: Bitterness

How to reduce spoilage due to ethylene without a fridge

Vegetable spoilage due to ethylene exposure can be reduced by :

  • Storing ethylene producing fruits and vegetables away from ethylene sensitive ones.
  • Storing vegetables in a well-ventilated area so that the ethylene concentration surrounding the vegetables is lower.


Vegetables that naturally preserve well without a fridge

Some vegetables naturally preserve well without requiring a fridge. Good examples are potatoes, onions and garlic.

  • Potatoes: Potatoes must be kept in a cool, dark place. In fact, storing potatoes in a fridge produces toxic chemicals.
  • Onions: Onions must be stored in a cool dark place.
  • Garlic : Garlic must not be kept in plastic containers. Garlic will preserve at room temperature for about a month if kept away from plastic.
  • Tomatoes : Tomatoes bruise easily so they must be stored and handled with care. Tomatoes are best stored in a plastic bag with holes for ventilation.
  • Cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower: These vegetables will last for about a week without refrigeration, provided they are kept away from moisture and direct sunlight.


Vegetables that are hard to preserve without refrigeration

Some vegetables are hard to preserve for over a few days without refrigeration. A good example is green leaves.

Preserving green leaves without a fridge

Green leaves such as kale, spinach and spoil very quickly without refrigeration. They can be kept without refrigeration for about four days. The best way to store green leaves is in a bag with a little air and away from sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight will cause the yellowing of leaves.

Green leaves must be kept in a cool environment with high humidity. Spraying them with cold water every hour will prolong the preservation time.


If vegetables must be preserved for a long time without a fridge, they can be dehydrated to remove all moisture and stored in airtight containers. Vegetables can be dehydrated by sun-drying or by using a dehydrator.

Commonly dehydrated vegetables include corn, carrots and potatoes.


Some vegetables can be preserved by pickling. Pickling is the process of preserving fresh produce in an acid solution such as vinegar or in a salt solution

Commonly pickled vegetables include cucumbers, cabbages and olives. 

Both pickling and dehydration enable the preservation of vegetables for a significant time without a fridge but they cause significant changes in the flavour, texture and nutrient content of vegetables.


In this article, we addressed the question “How to preserve vegetables without a fridge?”. We also discussed the different conditions to be taken into account when preserving vegetables without a fridge such as storage temperature, humidity, light intensity and ethylene sensitivity.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.