Today I want to share some simple tips that you can use in your kitchen to help make your food last longer. These tips are geared toward making sure that the groceries you buy last longer and you are able to enjoy them instead of having to toss them before eating them.
I’m going to be real honest here and tell you that this Sunday, when I cleaned out our refrigerator, I threw away a ridiculous amount of food. I felt so ashamed tossing so many things that we had let go bad. I had a long talk with my family after my trip to the garbage can and we talked about ways to stop wasting so much food. We talked about ways that we could use leftover items from meals, ways to keep from wasting things like berries and greens, ways to make sure things didn’t get stuck behind other items in our refrigerator and how lucky we are to be able to afford to afford to eat as well as we do. We are not the kind of people that take what we have for granted, but we are they type of people that get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and make convenient choices like grabbing something quick to eat instead of using what we have at home. That is about to change around here.
Here are a few simple tips to help make your groceries and food items last a little longer…
Place fresh herbs in a vase or jar like you would fresh cut flowers. This will keep them from wilting, drying out and turning to mush. You can also just use scissors to snip the amount you need for a recipe and leave the rest of your herb bouquet in the water. You may also find yourself using herbs a little more in different dishes if you actually have them out where you can see them. Plus, they are pretty too ;)
Store onions, garlic and shallots in a cool, dry area for long life. Onions can last months if stored correctly. Never store onions in the refrigerator, because it will soften their texture and the onions can actually permeate other food items. Do not store onions and potatoes together either…they give off gasses that don’t work well together. Don’t store onions in plastic bags, because it will accelerate sprouting and spoilage because of the lack of air circulation.
Store potatoes in a cool, well ventilated space. Colder temperatures lower than 50 degrees, such as in the refrigerator, cause a potato’s starch to convert to sugar, resulting in a sweet taste and discoloration when cooked. Perforated plastic bags and paper bags offer the best environment for extending shelf-life.
Rinse berries in a mixture of 4 cups of water and 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar to . I put all of the berries in their containers in my sink with the drain open, open the tops of their containers, and pour the berry washing mixture over top of them, making sure to move the berries around so they all get clean. Once I have covered all of the berries, I let them drain for a bit. Once they are drained, close their lids and give them an extra little shake so any excess water gets out of them. The pH in the vinegar kills any spores that are on your berries so they won’t mold so quickly. And…if you are worried that your berries will taste and smell like vinegars, have no fear! The vinegar is so diluted in the water that you won’t be able to tell you used vinegar at all…except that your berries will actually last longer. Also, don’t cut berries up until you are ready to eat them. While cutting strawberries ahead of time sounds like a great, time saving idea, it will make your strawberries spoil faster.
Store different fruits and vegetables separately when possible. Apples (and other fruits like pears, plums, and apricots) naturally release ethylene gas, which greatly speeds ripening and freshness of vegetables stored with them. So, when you can, store your fruits and vegetables separately.
Watermelon is the exception to the rule when it comes to cutting fruit up early…it actually tastes better and sweeter after being cut up and stored in the refrigerator. I try to cut my watermelon as soon as I get it home and store it in a large, lidded bowl for up to a week. You can find a super old post I did showing How To Cut a Watermelon Perfectly, HERE!
I hope these tips will help you waste a little less food. I’ll be posting a meat storing guide soon to help with that as well. Because, nobody wants to have to throw out expensive meats, am I right?