When we waste food, we also waste valuable resources and money. If we can improve our food preservation skills, we might be able to save money and cut down on our food waste. Here are some tips to keep these foods fresher longer.
If you’ve ever purchased berries, whether at the grocery store or the farmer’s market, you know how one day they can look great and the next day you’ve got a mushy mess on your hands.
Because they are packed tightly in a container, it is easier for moisture to get trapped and mold to move from one berry to another.
Tip: As soon as you get home, gently examine your berries and quickly toss the ones that are turning or already have. To kill any lingering mold, do a quick soak with a 3:1 solution or water and vinegar, and then dry them thoroughly with a paper towel or salad spinner. Lastly, be sure to store them in a well ventilated container (ex. a colander). The one exception to this rule is raspberries. Do toss the moldy ones as soon as possible, but don’t rinse them until right before consumption. Because of their hollow center, it is easier for moisture to get trapped and cause them to spoil faster.
While the store-bought white bread is loaded with preservatives to keep it good for a while, the artisan loaf from the farmer’s market doesn’t have quite that long of a shelf life.
Mold thrives in warm, moist environments, such as in a bag on a kitchen counter. Also, most loaves contain ingredients like milk that don’t last long at room temperature.
Tip: Slice a portion off of the loaf which you plan on eating within a day or two and keep it in its original packaging on the counter. If you notice moisture in the bag, open it up and let it breathe. If there is a bit of mold, so long as you’re in good health, you can cut it off, making sure to remove at least an inch of bread around it. While you may not be able to see it, mold spores can extend at least an inch. If you have a sensitive stomach or a compromised immune system, it is better to just toss it.
Now, for the rest of the loaf, wrap it well with foil or plastic wrap, put it in a well-sealed container or bag, and store it in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat more, let it thaw and use it as you may. While it may not be as good, it’s better than wasting it.
Even though the date on the bag gives you several days to enjoy your greens, that may not always be the case. You may open up the bag to find wilted, soggy leaves with a foul smell.
Much like berries, the moisture gets trapped in the airtight packaging, making leaves slimy and brown.
Tip: Your best bet is to open them up as soon as you get home, give them a rinse, and be sure to dry them well. Next, roll them in paper towels and put them in fresh bags. The paper towels will absorb any excess moisture, thus making your greens last longer.
If your greens aren’t chopped yet (ex. a head of lettuce) and you would like to prep them ahead of time, instead of chopping them, try tearing the leaves with your hands. When you chop them with a knife, the cut parts interact with the stainless steel blade, causing them to oxidize and turn brown.
It can be hard to use a whole avocado at once (unless you’re making a big batch of guacamole), forcing you to store the other half in the fridge and watch it turn brown within a few hours.
The exposure to oxygen makes avocados (and bananas and apples) to turn brown.
Tip: Instead of leaving the pit intact or rubbing lemon juice on the flesh, both of which are relatively ineffective, rub olive oil on the surface and store it in a sealed bag in the fridge. The olive oil will create a barrier to minimize the exposure to oxygen. When you’re ready to eat it, if you still notice browning, simply scrape it off. The flesh underneath should still be green, unless it is overripe.
Don’t you hate when you open up your half eaten pint of ice cream to find it covered in ice crystals? While this doesn’t indicate spoilage, it is simply unappetizing frost that forms due to excess moisture.
When frozen foods are in a container where there is air space because the container isn’t completely full, water tries to evaporate while it’s freezing, but instead it gets trapped.
Tip: Next time you stop by the grocery store, pick up some freezer paper (usually found with the parchment paper and tin foil). Use it to cover the surface of your ice cream before you put the lid back on. Freezer paper has a plastic underside that acts as a barrier to prevent moisture loss, and consequently, ice crystals. Or you can invite friends or family over to polish off the pint or gallon.
Join us for a delicious meal at the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli in Pomona. We are open weekdays from 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays from 10:30am-4:30pm. Visit us online or call 909-596-5225 to learn more about our catering services.