Are your vegetables going off after just a few days? Throwing away fresh food before you’ve had a chance to eat it? US households throw away around $240 billion worth of food annually – this equates to roughly over $700 per person. For many, knowing how to make fresh food last longer has become essential, and with less food waste there is ultimately less cost. Here are some food hacks to make your weekly shop go that little bit further and prolong the shelf life of your fresh food. Many of them include freezing! Freezing is the miracle of food saving.
Vinegar bath your veggies
A great way to disinfect all of your fruits and veggies is to give them a vinegar bath. The vinegar solution should be a 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water in either a bowl or your clean sink. Empty your produce into the solution and let sit for 15 minutes. Once done you can rinse and thoroughly dry your produce before moving them into their respective storage containers. The vinegar solution disinfects, cleans and removes any bacteria from the produce that might break down the food quicker. The solution should not be strong enough that you can taste it on the produce afterwards and enables your veggies to last for up to two weeks.
Store berries with a paper towel
Once dried, berries should be stored in airtight glass containers with a dry paper towel. The paper towel absorbs any excess moisture which will prevent mold from growing. Changing the paper towel every other day will allow for maximum freshness and a shelf life of up to three weeks.
Keep your bananas separate from other fruits
All fruits produce a certain level of a gas known as ‘ethylene’, fruits such as bananas produce a higher concentration when they are ready to ripen as it speeds up the ripening process. Other fruits that fall into the high ethylene producing category are – apples, peaches, pears, melons and the avocado to name a few. Keeping the ethylene producing fruits, specifically bananas, away from your ethylene sensitive fruits will prevent excessive exposure to the gas, allowing the fruit to ripen naturally and therefore lasting longer. Depending on the fruit itself they can last anywhere from three to five days to a few weeks at room temperature. To slow the ripening process for bananas you can also wrap the stem in cling film or the slightly more eco friendly aluminum foil. Wrapping as a bunch or individually will add a day or two on to the ripening process which usually lasts between three to five days (at room temperature).
Treat your fresh herbs like flowers
For those who prefer fresh herbs over dried, a top tip is to treat them like flowers. Add water to a jar and place the herbs inside with a plastic bag over the top. The water helps to keep the herbs fresh whilst the bag acts as a barrier against any excess moisture. If your fridge doesn’t accommodate upright jars you can also store your fresh herbs in an airtight glass container (or plastic bag if you prefer) with a damp paper towel, this again helps the herbs to retain their moisture so they don’t dry out too quickly and wilt. Both of these methods can aid your fresh herbs into lasting up to three weeks
Freeze your fresh herbs
If you prefer fresh herbs but find you don’t use them up quickly enough, you can also freeze them. You can store fresh cut herbs in olive oil in ice cube trays and freeze them for perfect portions. Alternatively water can also be used in place of oil. With water this method can also be used for fresh garlic and ginger.
Ice your bread
If you find that your bread has become stale, grab an ice cube and run it over the loaf before popping into the oven for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can also douse the loaf in water. This adds moisture back into the bread and allows it to become edible once more. The bread should then be used within the day. A freshly made loaf of bread can last up to four days whereas a store bought loaf will last up to one week.
Freeze your nuts
Most nuts and seeds have a shelf life of three to six months. In order to extend their lifespan they are best stored in cool, dark spaces; although the back of the cupboard is suitable, storing them in the fridge can help them to stay fresher for longer. If you find that six months is not enough time to nibble your way through your nuts, then you’ll be pleased to hear that they can be frozen – which extends their shelf life to one year.
Freeze your crudite platters and fruit plates
After entertaining, chop your crudite a bit cruder and toss in a ziplock to use later in soups and stews. You’ll thank us in the winter. Same with fruit – take left over fruit from entertaining/ hosting and freeze it – bring out later to use in smoothies, baking, frozen cocktails, and so much more.