Fruits and vegetables that last the longest

We probably don't need to be the ones to remind you that nothing lasts forever. Nowhere does this become more apparent in our everyday lives, as in the kitchen. You'd be hard-pressed to find anything beyond your cans that's going to last longer than just a short while, and food going bad can be frustrating. That doesn't necessarily have to be the case, though, and some things — even among perhaps the most perishable type of food (outside dairy) — can, with a little TLC, last much longer than you'd expect. Store them right and treat them well and these fruits and vegetables can last weeks, months or even more.

Apples

You might have noticed that apples don't tend to go bad too quickly. Even if you leave them out, fresh apples can last up to four weeks in the pantry. If you keep them in the fridge, however, they'll last a whole lot longer — refrigerated apples can last up to two months. Either way, if the skin appears wrinkled and the insides are soft, your apple has gone bad. Chuck it.

Cabbage

Cabbage is one of the more helpful vegetables out there, in that it's not only versatile but also tends to have a significant shelf-life. There are a few golden rules to follow to ensure your cabbage is stored correctly: Don't wash it until you're ready to use it, handle it with care — bruising is going to seriously shorten the life of the cabbage — and try to keep it in a hydrator drawer if you can.

Follow those rules and the cabbage can last anywhere up to two months. If you keep it (or any other root vegetables on this list) in a root cellar in optimum conditions, it's going to last much, much longer, although that might be a little too much effort if you're not a seasoned grower and gardener.

Citrus fruits

Your smaller citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes, tend to last a fair amount of time (usually a couple of weeks) on the counter. Once again, if you keep them in the fridge, that's bound to go up to a couple of months. Make sure to keep them in the fridge drawer, and don't keep them in plastic bags or containers, since they'll end up going moldy quicker that way.

Just make sure to use them up once you've cut into them — in the fridge, they'll have spoiled in a few days, and unrefrigerated they're not likely to last to the end of the day. You'll be able to tell if a lemon or lime has gone bad if they're soft or discolored. Once you spot actual mold, the game's up.

Garlic

Helpfully, garlic is one of the longest-lasting vegetables out there. If you leave a bulb uncut, it'll probably last up to half a year before starting to go bad, and even the separated cloves will last a month or two. Once you chop it, you've probably got a week before it spoils. If you're looking to keep your garlic good, store it in a dark, dry space where it can get some air. Keeping it in a paper bag out in your kitchen should do just fine. If it's chopped, keep it in a container in the fridge.

Once you can see brown spots appearing on the cloves, or if they're turning yellow, then your garlic is going bad. If new sprouts are appearing on the garlic bulb (they're green and will appear in the center of the bulb), however, you can still get some use out of them by planting and growing some of your own.

Pomegranates

The shelf-life of pomegranates depends entirely on whether you've got the whole fruit or just the seeds in your kitchen. The latter is only likely to last about a week — unless you freeze them, which can be done without spoiling them if you keep them in a container — while the former will keep for up to three weeks in the fridge. To keep pomegranate seeds edible outside the freezer, stick them in the fridge in an airtight container, though avoid plastic — they're more than capable of soaking up the chemicals that are found in most plastics.

If your pomegranate is browning, or if it's soft or brittle to the touch, then it's gone bad. With the seeds, you'll be able to tell they've gone bad if they're beginning to turn brown. If they look like you shouldn't eat them, you probably shouldn't.

Onions

Like many root vegetables, onions have a fairly hefty shelf-life. On the counter, they'll last over a month, and up to six weeks in the right conditions: in a dark, dry place with good air circulation. Once again, in a paper or mesh bag out on the counter will keep them good. If you keep them in the fridge, however, they should have another couple of weeks added on to their lives, and they'll last for up to eight months in the freezer.

Once they're removed from their skins, they'll spoil much more quickly, so keep the peeled ones in a container in the fridge. In that case, they'll probably last a week or so. Bad onions tend to be brown, or black if they've been left out for a particularly long time. Once they go soft, too, they're done.

Oranges

Oranges tend to last around the same amount of time as their smaller cousins, such as lemons or limes. Fresh oranges will keep for two or three weeks out in the kitchen. Keep them in the fridge, however — preferably in the fruit drawer — and they'll stay good for up to two months.

If you've cut into it, the orange will only last a day or so without spoiling, or a couple of days at most in the fridge. Keep an eye out for moist spots, white mold and discoloration in your oranges, since that's how you'll know they need to be trashed. As with any other fruit or vegetable, simply use your best judgement and try not to eat anything you wouldn't give somebody else.

Potatoes

All we'll say is this — we're thankful for root vegetables. Like the others, potatoes have an admirable lifespan, though just how far they'll go depends slightly on what sort of potato you're looking at. Generally, though, you can expect potatoes to last anywhere from two to five weeks in the pantry, or anywhere up to four months in the fridge. If you're storing them in the pantry, make sure to keep them away from warmer temperatures. If they've been prepared, keep them in a container or they'll go bad fast.

You can freeze certain types of potato, too, including french fries, cooked or baked potatoes and mashed potatoes. In that case, they'll probably last anywhere up to eight months. After that, you're on your own. We won't ask why you're keeping your potatoes for over half a year.

Carrots

The length of a carrot's life depends largely on what state it's in. Whole, fresh carrots tend to last around four or five weeks, while the baby versions won't make it any longer than four. Once a carrot is cooked, however, it's unlikely to last beyond the end of the week. It's possible to freeze carrots too, but make sure to blanch them before you do.

As with most vegetables, be sure to store them in the fridge, un-peeled, in either a plastic bag or the veg drawer. If you're able to spot white dots on your carrots, don't fret — they're just drying out and should be alright to eat as long as you don't wait too long. Once they're soft and mushy (or worse) they're done. Get rid of them, ASAP.

Squash

Squash, being another root vegetable, naturally tends to have quite a formidable shelf-life. If it's fresh and whole, squash (be it winter, spaghetti or butternut) will last anywhere from a month up to three months, regardless of whether you refrigerate them or not, though doing so might cause your squash to change slightly in taste and texture, so it's probably best to keep it on the counter.

If it's cooked, however, don't expect it to stay unspoiled for more than a few days. In the freezer, squash will keep for up to eight months. Try to store them in a cool, dark place and take note if it's starting to get soft or leaking — once that's happened (or if you notice mold) it's time to throw it out.