It never fails, you buy the Costco tub of spinach and it starts to go bad before it’s finished. After investing time, money and energy buying healthy foods, we’ve all watched them get old too soon. Here are some tips to help keep your food fresh longer.
1. Store leafy greens in paper towels. After washing your lettuce, wrap them in paper towels. Paper towels work wonders to keep cilantro, parsley and lettuce fresh for days. And if it does spoil, the paper towel keeps the mess confined for easy clean up. Chopped kale and spinach can be frozen in individual bags for smoothies. I like to use 1-2 handfuls of greens in my smoothie. For the most nutrition, don’t let the greens thaw before adding them to your smoothie
2. Fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, sage, etc.) can be placed in a glass of water like you would a bouquet of flowers to keep them fresh.
3. Potatoes last longest if stored in a cool dark place with an apple. The apple will keep the potatoes from sprouting.
4. Keep bananas separate from your other fruit as they will cause all the fruit to ripen quickly. Wrap the banana stems with plastic wrap. This slows down the ripening process. Ripe spotted bananas can be frozen. Peel the bananas first, then break them into pieces and freeze in Ziplock freezer bags. Frozen bananas will be ready for use in smoothies, like the Pumpkin-Spiced Apple Smoothie.
5. Store nuts and seeds in the freezer to preserve their nutritional value. The oils in these foods go bad quickly.
6. Store mushrooms in paper bags to keep fresh longer.
7. Freeze veggie scraps and produce that is starting to get old, like extra spinach from the Costco tub, and use it for vegetable stock. I keep a Ziplock freezer bag in my freezer to save onion skins, carrot tops, mushroom stems, celery leaves, etc. from food prep. When the bag gets full, I make Healing Broth.
8. Don’t freeze wet produce as it will form small ice crystals. I notice this especially with berries and let them dry on a towel before freezing.
9. Freeze leftover sauces like tomatoes paste in a small Ziplock bag. Flattening out the sauce to freeze in a thin sheet will make it easier to break off a piece for the next recipe.
10. If your honey crystallizes, place the jar of honey in a pan of water on low-medium heat on the stove. As your honey warms up the crystals will dissolve. Be careful not to heat it over 100°F as it will destroy the healthy nutrients in the raw honey.
11. Store leftovers in glass or bpa-free plastic containers with lids. The FDA food code says all leftovers or perishable food should be thrown out after 7 days. The Mayo Clinic food poisoning recommendations are to eat leftovers in 3-4 days.
12. If you buy food in bulk, transfer it into a food safe container with a lid. Food keeps longer in containers than in the original packaging.
My sister-in-law once shared a freeing statement regarding food waste. She said composting produce is not wasteful; it benefits our soil. Composting my vegetable scraps, adding in dried leaves and occasionally some steer manure creates a rich soil additive for my garden and is an enjoyable experience for me. An even easier option is to bury vegetable scraps in your flower beds. It will quickly decompose and improve your soil.
Following these tips will save you money. And if your vegetables do get old, compost them with a smile knowing you are benefiting the earth.