There’s no pain like the sting of tossing an unopened bag of wilted salad greens in the trash. Having to throw away food that’s gone bad is a real drag.
Whether you’re on a budget and need to make sure your grub lasts until payday or you’re just really freaked out by moldy bread, learning how to store your food properly is the first line of defence against unnecessary food waste.
Here are a few genius storage hacks that will make your food last twice as long.
Wash your berries in vinegar to keep them from getting moldy.
Fresh berries are delicious, but they can also be expensive. Keep those fruity treasures mould-free until you can eat them by rinsing your berries in a water and vinegar solution as soon as you get them home from the grocery store, LifeHacker notes. Use one part vinegar to 10 parts water.
Wrap your banana stems to slow down ripening.
If you can’t ever seem to get through all your bananas before at least one or two go brown and mushy, there’s a hack for that.
You can keep bananas fresh days longer by separating each fruit from the bunch and wrapping each of their stems in plastic wrap. This is because bananas release ethylene gas from their stems, which speeds up ripening. By capping their stems in plastic wrap, you’re limiting the fruit’s exposure to this gas.
Stick carrots in sand or sawdust to keep them crispy.
Though it probably feels counter-intuitive to bury your beautiful carrots in the sand or sawdust, it’s actually a sound way to keep fresh root vegetables edible for months at a time. According to the World Carrot Museum, this method is called “clamping” and works best when the carrots are in good condition and can be kept somewhere cool and moist, such a basement or root cellar.
Use sliced bread to keep cake from getting stale.
This tip is unconventional but it works. Blogger Baked Bree revealed that adding a slice of regular sandwich bread to a cake is the perfect way to keep it moist. You can simply place a slice or two on top of an un-frosted cake, or press the slices against the cut portion of a frosted cake. The bread slices will dry out quickly, but the cake will remain moist.
Freeze fresh herbs in olive oil to store them for later.
There’s nothing quite as heavenly as the scent of freshly plucked herbs, but some varieties tend to wilt and spoil quickly. If you find yourself with more fresh herbs than your recipe calls for, The Kitchn suggested freezing the excess in olive oil using an ice cube tray.
The olive oil helps prevent browning and freezer burn better than water. When you’re ready to cook, simply pop a cube out and melt it on low heat.
This method is best used with sturdier herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano. More delicate herbs like basil and mint won’t stand up as well to freezing.
Rub an avocado with lemon juice to prevent browning.
There are almost as many internet tips about how to prevent avocados from browning as there are avocados on Earth. However, professor of food chemistry Raymond Mahoney recommended one particular method to Self: applying lemon juice to a sliced avocado.
It turns out that the Ascorbic acid in lemon juice lowers the pH of an avocado’s surface, making it more acidic. This acidity inhibits enzymes in the exposed areas from turning the avocado brown.
Cover leftover guacamole with cooking spray or a layer of water to keep it fresh.
Guacamole can get brown and unappetizing in what seems like mere moments. To prevent your dip from spoiling quite as quickly, The Kitchn advised coating the top of the guacamole in a thin layer of cooking spray or lukewarm water. This will help keep air from making contact with the avocado in your guac and turning it brown.
Separate your potatoes and onions to keep them from spoiling.
Potatoes and onions don’t make good neighbours. Potatoes should always be kept separate from onions because gases from the latter can actually accelerate sprouting in potatoes. Store your taters in a cool, dark, and dry place to maximise their lifespan.
But store your potatoes and apples together.
Keeping your apples with your potatoes will help those taters survive an extra week or two, according to Lifehacker. Like most other produce, apples emit ethylene gas. This gas causes other fruits and veggies to ripen and rot quickly. However, that same ethylene gas actually keeps potatoes from sprouting, according to LifeHacker.
Store your honey in glass to make it last basically forever.
According to the National Honey Board, properly stored honey can last decades or even centuries. However, honey can crystallize over time. This isn’t a sign of spoilage – some beekeepers allow their honey to crystallize intentionally – but it can make the honey gritty and difficult to pour.
To counteract this, store your honey in a sealed glass container in a cool, dark place, according to the Spruce Eats. Glass is preferred over plastic as it is more stable over time and allows you to submerge the container in warm water to reverse any crystallization and liquefy your honey again.
Get a few ethylene gas absorbers to slow the spoiling process.
They might sound high-tech, but these little gadgets usually retail for between $US10 and $US15 and look like little packets, balls, or discs. Fruits and vegetables give off ethylene gas as they ripen, which accelerates the rotting process of any produce nearby. By absorbing this gas, these devices should help your food last longer.
Freeze your tomato paste in a plastic baggie to prevent waste.
If you don’t tend to use up entire tubes of tomato paste in one go, this hack is the perfect way to prevent that unused portion from rapidly spoiling in the fridge. Iowa Girl Eats recommended squirting the contents of a tube into a plastic baggie and then separating the paste into rectangles using your fingers. Pop it in the freezer and simply grab a segment when you need one.
Wrap your celery in aluminium foil to keep it crunchy.
Celery needs to be refrigerated, but you shouldn’t just toss it in a container or cover it in plastic wrap. Still Tasty pointed out that aluminium foil is the better choice because it allows the ethylene gases to escape, unlike plastic storage options.
Don’t let bruised apples hang out with fresh ones.
The old saying “one rotten apple spoils the bunch” is literally true. Though apples have an incredibly long shelf life, storing them with fruits that are already ripe or have been bruised is a mistake.
According to Mental Floss, produce gives off more ethylene the riper it is. That means that one over-ripe apple can push the others around it to turn brown before their time, starting a snowball effect of ripening and rotting.
Keep lettuce from wilting by sealing it in a mason jar.
Soggy greens are a terrible sight. Stop your lettuce from wilting before its time by storing it in a sealed mason jar. According to blogger The Canned Quilter, prepping lettuce and keeping it in a glass mason jar in the refrigerator will prevent your greens from losing that crispness.
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