Food storage tips to make your food last longer

This article is from Cookie and Kate

 

how to store food

 

General Food Storage Guidelines

“The rotten apple spoils his companion.” – Benjamin Franklin

Let’s take Ben’s advice quite literally this time. One moldy apple can lead to a bunch of moldy apples, because the mold will spread looking for a new food source.

Here are some general tips:

  • Examine your fresh produce often and discard any bits that are turning mushy or showing signs of mold. If there’s a rubber band or twist-tie around your produce, remove it as soon as possible—those parts start going bad first.
  • Store your fruits separately from your veggies. Ripe fruits release ethylene gas, which encourages everything nearby to ripen or spoil.
  • Store fresh fruit (avocado, pineapple, mango, peaches & all relatives) and avocados that are not yet ripe at room temperature
  • Once ripe, move them to the fruit drawer to slow their spoilage.
  • Pretty much all sturdy fruits and vegetables will keep for at least a few days at room temperature, if need be.
  • Square containers are ideal, since they occupy about 25 percent less space than round ones.
  • Now might be a fun time to make quick pickles. You can make pickle onions, radishes, carrots, cauliflower, peppers and more!

Lastly, trust your eyes and your nose above all else. Use-by dates are approximates.

Greens & Herbs

Leafy Herbs (Cilantro, Parsley and Dill) and Green Onion

To keep your store-bought cilantro, parsley and green onion fresh for up to three weeks, remove the rubber band around the base ASAP. Store them in mason jars filled with a few inches of water.

Treat them like a bouquet of flowers—occasionally trim the ends of the herbs (not green onions), replace the water, and remove any decaying pieces as you see them. The herbs will keep best in the door of the refrigerator with a produce bag over the top, but they also keep well at room temperature.

Out of fresh herbs? For recipes that call for a small amount of fresh herbs as an accent or garnish (say, less than 1/2 cup), you have a few options. You can simply omit them, or substitute dried herbs, or sometimes, you can substitute one herb for another (cilantro and parsley are occasionally interchangeable, but cilantro would likely taste out of place in an Italian dish).

When substituting dried herbs for fresh, use one-third of the amount specified (so if a recipe calls for one tablespoon—which is three teaspoons—fresh dill, use one teaspoon dried dill). You can always add more if desired.

Packaged Fresh Greens

Once opened, place a paper towel inside the bag or lid before resealing. The paper towel absorbs excess moisture and keeps your greens fresh longer.

Sturdy Greens: Chard, Collard Greens and Kale

These greens will actually keep at room temperature for up to a few days, but will keep longer in the refrigerator. Remove the rubber band at the base before storing in the bag.

Use the whole stem: If you don’t mind extra texture in meals that feature cooked greens, slice the stems of sturdy greens into small (1/4-inch wide) pieces. Cook the stems for a few minutes, until easily pierced through by a fork, before adding the greens.

Extra greens? Use this quick-cooking technique and serve them as a side dish. Or make kale salad or lentil soup!

Dehydrated greens? You can often resuscitate limp greens and leafy herbs in an ice water bath.

Fruits & Vegetables

Apples

Apples will keep for a week at room temperature, or several weeks in the fruit drawer.

Extra apples? Make applesauceapple steel-cut oatmeal, or find more apple recipe here.

Asparagus

Store asparagus in a mason jar or similar, with a couple of inches of water inside. Cover the top with a produce bag, if you have it, and store in the door of the refrigerator if possible.

Extra asparagus? Roast it.

Avocado

Store underripe avocado at room temperature until sufficiently ripened. To speed up this process, place it in a paper bag with an apple or banana (they contain ethylene gas, which will encourage ripening).

Once the avocados are ripe (they yield slightly to a gentle squeeze), store them in the refrigerator to slow excess ripening.

Once cut open, the best way to prevent avocado from turning brown is to store it in a small container with a chunk of cut onion. The compounds in the onion help reduce browning, believe it or not!

Extra avocado? Make avocado toastguacamole or creamy avocado dipFind more avocado recipes here.

Out of avocado? If a recipe calls for avocado as a garnish, omit it or add something creamy instead—perhaps a dollop of sour cream will do.

Bananas

Store underripe bananas at room temperature until sufficiently ripened.

Or, freeze ripe bananas for future creamy smoothies. Peel them and slice them into 1-inch segments. For best results, freeze them on a rimmed baking sheet before transferring to a freezer bag (otherwise they’ll stick together, but I always mange to pry them apart).

Overripe bananas? You’re in luck—they’re perfect for sweet treats, like banana bread or banana pancakes. Find more banana recipes here.

Beets, Carrots and Radishes

If they came home with nice greens attached, remove the greens and cook them up in some olive oil ASAP. The greens decay far faster than the attached vegetables.

Remove any rubber bands and store these veggies (without the greens) in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. Or, they’ll keep for a few days at room temperature if you’re limited on storage.

Extra carrots? Make creamy roasted carrot soupFrench carrot saladcarrot ginger dressing, or perfect roasted carrotsFind more carrot recipes here.

Extra radishes? Pickle them or make lentil-chickpea salad.

Berries and Cherries

Berries are delicate. They will last for a couple of days at room temperature, but the refrigerator’s fruit drawer is best (store them on top of everything else so they don’t get smushed). Be sure to remove any berries that are going bad. Rinse berries on an as-needed basis; storing them with water droplets on them will encourage decay.

Extra berries? Eat up! You could try this vinegar-wash solution to prolong their life. Or, wash, air dry completely and freeze for later. Use the search bar to find a variety of recipes that call for berries and cherries.

Celery

Celery is best stored in the bag it came in, with a couple of small air holes, in the refrigerator’s vegetable drawer. (Remove any rubber bands around the celery before storing.) If it goes limp, cut it into a few sections and soak it in some ice water to try to revive it.

Extra celery? Chop and freeze for future cooking, or make crisp celery salad or this celery and olive appetizerFind more celery recipes here (many are soups).

Out of celery? If you’re making a soup that calls for a bunch of ingredients, you can likely omit it.

Citrus

Citrus keeps well at room temperature for up to a week, or two to three weeks in the refrigerator’s fruit drawer. Be sure to remove any citrus that is squishy or moldy before it contaminates the others.

Extra citrus? Make mimosas with fresh-squeezed orange juice, margaritas or cilantro-lime rice with lime, or classic hot toddies or hummus with lemon.

Out of citrus? For recipes that call for fresh citrus juice as a bright accent, you can likely substitute vinegar. Try a mild vinegar, perhaps rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Start with less vinegar than citrus, and add more to taste.

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https://cookieandkate.com/food-storage-tips/


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