KEEPING FOODS FRESH
Keeping foods fresh, whether buying groceries for a day, week, month or more, can save both time and money. Who hasn't found a really good deal in the local supermarket or wholesale store, brought it home and thrown it into the fridge (or left it on the kitchen counter) only to end up throwing a good amount out because it had become spoiled.
Food spoilage is wasteful and costly, especially when there are some guidelines and tips available to help. The following tips were collected from Mother Earth Living, along with a few of ours. We hope you will find them helpful if you have ever questioned how you can be keeping foods fresh.
GENERAL TIPS FOR KEEPING FOODS FRESH
#1 - BUY LOCALLY
This one makes sense for those of us who are fortunate enough to have access to local produce. The produce in the grocery store may have already traveled long distances.
Buy Local Produce
#2 - CLEAN and PREP ASAP
Again, it makes sense to clean and prep fresh foods as soon as you get them home or as soon as possible.
#3 - BUY SMALLER PIECES
This tip applies to produce that contains a lot of water (such as watermelon). If bought in smaller pieces, they will last longer and have more flavor.
#4 - PLAN MEALS
Make an effort to plan meals in order of what needs to be used up first.
#5 - GROW YOUR OWN FOOD
If you possibly can, grow your own food or at least some of it. If it will be too much for you and your family, you can share your harvest with friends or donate to your local food bank.
KEEPING DAIRY PRODUCTS FRESH
#1 - PREVENT HARD CHEESES FROM DRYING OUT
Simply rub butter on the cut parts of hard cheeses to prevent them from drying out!
#2 - KEEP AIR OUT OF SOUR CREAM & COTTAGE CHEESE
Store these products upside down in the fridge to help keep the air out and make them last longer.
Cottage Cheese & Sour Cream Upside Down in Fridge
KEEPING FRUITS FRESH
#1 - SOAK BERRIES
Wash all berries before putting them in the fridge. Here is our favorite procedure to remove dirt and wax and help keep fruits fresh longer:
Fill a sink with cold water. Add 1/4 cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoons salt and stir. Add the berries and let soak for 30 minutes.
To dry them, you can spin out the excess water in a salad spinner. This procedure not only cleans the fruit but actually makes the berries last longer.
Berries Before Soaking
#2 - APPLES
Store apples on the kitchen counter or table. Do NOT store apples in the fridge. If they do not get eaten right away and get soft, just cook them.
Remember also to keep apples away from other foods! They give off ethylene gas, which can cause other foods to spoil.
KEEPING GREENS FRESH
#1 - RINSE GREENS
Greens such as lettuce should be immediately rinsed in cold water and spun dry before refrigerating. They can be stored in the spinner basket or in a breathable cloth bag. (They need air circulation to retard spoiling.)
#2 - KALE, COLLARDS & SWISS CHARD
These greens should be stored in the fridge in a glass of water with a loose bag over the top. Make sure to trim the ends first.
#3 - SALAD GREENS & PEPPERS WILTING?
If your greens or peppers are starting to wilt, they can be soaked in ice water just to crisp them before making a salad.
#4 - SCALLIONS
Store scallions in a jar of water right out on the counter! You can actually triple their life by storing them in this way. They will keep growing as you snip the tips to use.
Scallions (Green Onions)
KEEPING HERBS FRESH
#1 - STORE IN WATER ON THE COUNTER
Most herbs will keep fresh longer when stored in water on the counter. Change the water regularly. The advantage to this method is you can snip fresh herbs when needed because they will keep growing. See our article on growing herbs, Windowsill Herb Water Garden.
Herbs in Water
#2 - STORE IN WATER IN THE FRIDGE
Putting fresh herbs in the fridge will turn the leaves black. However, if you would prefer to put the herbs in the fridge, cut the stems and place them in a glass or jar with about 2-3 inches of water at the bottom. Then place a plastic bag over the top. You can also seal the bag with a rubber band around the top of the jar to prevent spillage.
#3 - STORE HARDY HERBS IN FRIDGE
Another way to store hardy herbs such as rosemary, thyme, chives, etc., if you want to keep them in the fridge, is to arrange them lengthwise in a single layer on a slightly damp paper towel. Roll them up in jelly roll fashion and then place the entire bundle in a zip-lock bag or wrap in plastic wrap before putting them in the fridge. They should stay fresh a week or more.
#4 - FREEZE HERBS
Freezing herbs preserves their essential oils. Simply rinse them, remove the leaves from the stems, and let them completely dry on a tray. After they are thoroughly dry, put them in a bag and freeze them.
If you would like to go a step farther, you can blend the dried herbs with oil, either individually or blend 2 or more together to make a paste to be used in soups or stews.
#5 - DRIED SAGE
You can store dried sage in a jar of salt to keep it crisp.
KEEPING VEGGIES FRESH
#1 - CELERY, CARROTS & RADISHES
These veggies will last quite and long time and keep crisp if you chop them and store them in water in the fridge.
#2 - HOT PEPPERS & CUCUMBERS
First slice and then store them in a jar of vinegar in the fridge. They will last for several weeks when prepared in this way.
#3 - BEETS AND TOMATOES
If beets or tomatoes are about to go bad, slice them or cut them into chunks and roast them. Then store them in olive oil in the fridge, where they will keep for about a week.
#4 - WHOLE SUMMER AND WINTER SQUASH
If you have room, you can rub whole summer and winter squash with vegetable oil and they will last stored in the pantry for several months.
#5 - STORING HOME GROWN TOMATOES
If you grow tomatoes in your garden, pull up the whole tomato plants at the end of the growing season. Hang them upside down in the basement or a cool, dark area and you can pick fresh tomatoes for a long time after the season has ended.
#6 - CURE FRESH ONIONS
Hang fresh onions in a cool, dark place in a pantyhose leg. This will dry out the outer layer before the onions go into storage, making them last longer.
#7 - ASPARAGUS
Let the thick ends of asparagus sit in cold water to make the asparagus last longer, whether on the counter or in the fridge. Cover with a plastic bag which can be sealed with a rubber band to prevent spillage.
Asparagus in Water in Fridge
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