Fresh, healthy food is delicious and good for you, but its freshness presents a challenge. Because of the lack of processing and preservatives, many types of fresh food can spoil relatively quickly. It can be so appealing that you buy more than you really need at one time, and Lark can get you going on a health kick that inspires you to pile the fresh foods high in your shopping cart.
Still, proper handling and storage can keep your new healthy foods looking better, to get you through the work-week! Here are some tips for keeping your fresh food for longer.
1. Dry your produce
Many stores use misters to make produce appear fresh and shiny. When you get home from the store, dry off any moisture from your fruits and vegetables to prevent faster rotting. In addition, placing a paper towel in the fridge for greens to rest on will help prevent them from accumulating moisture and getting limp faster.
2. Use the fridge
You probably know intuitively that the refrigerator prevents spoilage. That is because the cooler temperature, ideally under 40 degrees Fahrenheit, slows the growth of mold and bacteria. Cold foods, such as chicken, milk, eggs, and yogurt absolutely must be in the fridge until you use them, but storing many fruits and vegetables in the fridge helps extend their lives, too.
Still, it is best to keep tomatoes out of the fridge, since the cold air interacts with their flavor. For avocados, you can let them ripen until they are just soft enough to eat, then place them in the fridge until it is time to eat them.
If you have half of an avocado leftover, just squeeze lemon juice over it before sticking it in the fridge, or leave the pit with the remainder.
3. Consider ventilation
Foods such as bananas, potatoes, and onions need to have circulating air around them to prevent premature ripening. Unless you are ripening bananas to use in banana bread, it is best not to store such foods in tightly sealed containers or small areas. In addition, keep bananas on the bunch until you want to eat them.
4. Seal food properly
Dry foods, such as walnuts, almonds, oats, cereal, and pretzels, need to stay in tightly sealed containers to prevent moisture from the air getting in, leading to sogginess. In very dry areas, exposure to the air could lead to staleness. Bread must also be tightly sealed packages, such as the plastic bag it may have come in.
Grains, such as whole-wheat flour and brown rice, can be contaminated with weevils, which are small bugs. Their presence means you need to throw the grain away. Storing them in an aitright container in the fridge can help prevent a problem.
5. Use foil for certain foods
Celery lasts longer when stored in foil. Soft cheeses last only a few weeks, but hard cheeses can last months. Just remove the original packaging and wrap them in parchment paper and foil to extend their shelf life.
6. Keep it whole
Chopping vegetables releases enzymes that can hasten spoilage, while leaving them whole can keep them from getting overripe too fast. Don’t chop lettuce or other vegetables until you need them or shortly before. Cut lettuce can last about a day, while some hardier vegetables can last about 2 days before they should be eaten or cooked.
7. Separate the apples
“One bad apple can spoil the bunch” is usually used figuratively, but it is literally true. Keep apples away from other fruits and vegetables because apples give off a gas called ethylene, which leads to faster ripening.
This is true except for potatoes. Oddly enough, ethylene gas from apples helps prevent potatoes from sprouting, so you can store an apple or two with your potatoes.
8. Place herbs in water
Placing herbs in water and keeping them on a windowsill can keep them fresh for longer. The ends of asparagus can also go into a glass of water, but should be in the fridge until use.
9. Keep certain foods in the dark
Olive oil, potatoes, and onions are light-sensitive. Olive oil can go into the fridge or a dark pantry, while onions and potatoes should be in a cool, dark pantry.
With these tricks, your fresh foods may have a longer shelf life, letting you enjoy them for longer. If you ever do find that your fresh foods are starting to age, there are plenty of healthy ways to use them up quickly without wasting them.