Food waste is a massive problem in Australia. Every year we throw out an average of 300kg per person, food wastage that costs the economy around $20 billion. To put this into perspective, you’re throwing out the equivalent of one in every five bags of groceries you purchase. Knowing how to properly store your fresh produce may do wonders for both the environment and your bank balance.
Keep herbs like flowers
If you’re guilty of tossing bundles of herbs into the bottom of your crisper drawer, you’ll have noticed that they go wrinkly and limp after just a few days. To keep herbs happy and perky for longer, treat them like you would a bunch of cut flowers. Put your herbs upright in small jars of water. You can keep herbs such as parsley, mint and coriander like this in the fridge, while soft-stemmed herbs such as basil prefer to be kept on the kitchen counter.
Wash before you refrigerate
To make some leafy greens, including spinach and various types of lettuce, stay fresher for longer, wash them before refrigerating. Rinse them in cool water before gently drying with a clean dish towel or salad spinner. Store them in sealed reusable containers or a plastic bag in the fridge.
Keep bananas cool
Bananas are a tropical fruit, so they ripen in the heat. Keeping them in your fridge can help to slow the ageing process and keep them fresh for longer.
Ethylene is a gas produced by some fruits and vegetables that can speed up the ripening process. If you leave foods that produce ethylene with foods that are sensitive to it, you may find that food ripens and goes off faster than you expected.
Foods that produce ethylene include:
Foods that are sensitive to ethylene include:
Don’t wash off the wax
Some fruits and vegetables including apples, oranges, nectarines, cucumbers, capsicums, lemons, eggplants and potatoes have either a natural or sprayed-on layer of a waxy substance that helps to prevent bruising and rotting. Don’t wash this off until you are ready to eat it.
Cut carrot heads
Chopping those lovely leafy green sprouts off the top of carrots can make them last longer in the fridge. But in the name of reducing food waste and adding some flavour to your kitchen, save these green tops and use them in pesto, chimichurri or as a salad topping.
Freeze your ginger
Many a fruit bowl is home to an old, gnarled piece of ginger that seems to age before there’s been time to eat it. Slice or grate your ginger and wrap it tightly in a freezer bag or aluminium foil and store it in the freezer. It can last there for up to three months.
The secret to keeping onions fresh and crisp for longer is allowing them to breathe. Store them in a cool dry spot where they receive ample airflow. You can hang mesh bags of onions in your pantry, or simply avoid keeping them in a plastic wrap or sealed bag.
Mushrooms are fungi that are happiest when kept cool and well ventilated. If you purchase them in plastic wrapping, transfer them into a paper bag and store them in the fridge. For a waste free, easier, and often cheaper, alternative buy mushrooms in paper bags from the supermarket.
Do you use any of these tips? Do you have any other tips for keeping produce fresher for longer? Share them with other YourLifeChoices readers in the comment section below.
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