You know how it is, fruit and veg are a temperamental little lot – they like to be kept in just the right conditions or they pull a face and spoil. Like those strawberries that looked so juicy and delicious three days ago, that have now turned into a mass of mould, without you managing to taste even one juicy red berry!
So, how do you stop this from happening? Well, you could, of course, simply buy less. But, if that were an option you’d probably be doing it already. No, what you need is some help in keeping the stuff you buy as fresh as possible for as long as possible so you’re not throwing money down the drain.
But that’s not the only reason why you might want to learn how to preserve your fruits and veg for longer. It also means you can buy in larger amounts. So, you could grab that super special offer 10kg bag of onions and know that you’ll be able to use them all before they go off.
Parts one and two will cover how to store fruits and veggies to make them last the longest and part three will show you how to use your fridge properly – bet you think you’re already doing that, don’t you?
And before we start, there’s one golden rule that applies to all foods – if you see something going mouldy, remove it immediately, before it starts infecting the other food with mould spores.
Okay, on to the good stuff.
Bag ‘em up – you would not believe just how useful the humble paper bag can be. The next time you store fruit and veg in the drawers at the bottom of your fridge, lay a brown paper bag over the top of them, making sure it covers it all. And other veggies, like tomatoes and mushrooms keep really well in paper bags, because the bag absorbs the moisture that causes them to rot.
Trap the gas – bananas release a gas, called ethylene, which promotes ripening, not only in bananas, but in other fruits too. Covering the stems of the bananas, you can prevent some of the gas from escaping, thus halting the ripening process. And if you want the opposite – to ripen something – sit it next to bananas and it’ll be ready in no time!
Seal in sand – we’ve another neat, simple trick that could preserve your carrots for months. Did you know that carrots for example, continue to produce vitamin A for five months after they’ve been picked? And if you protect them from heat and light, they’ll last another 2-3 months on top of that. The key to preserving carrots, and any other root vegetable for that matter, is to make sure they’re exposed to as little moisture as possible.
A great way to achieve this is to put them in a sand box in your shed, garage or the coolest place in your house. Or if you don’t have anywhere suitable, you can use the salad drawer of your fridge. The sand regulates humidity and absorbs moisture. Before you put the veggies into the sand, it’s a good idea to leave them out for a few days so the skin dries. And, you do need to remove any green bits, like the carrot tops, as these will rot quickly. And, don’t wash them before you place them in the sand, just brush them clean. Space them about an inch apart and make sure they’re fully covered with sand. Using this method of storage means you can buy bulk, which lowers the cost too. Oh and one last thing, don’t store them with apples or pears as these give-off the same ripening gases as the bananas.