By Brianna Steinhilber
1 . Keep Produce Out of the Garbage Bin
One of the most common excuses for not eating a healthy diet is the cost. And while stocking up on fresh produce and whole foods is an investment, it’s often the amount we waste that causes us to feel like we’re throwing away money. Luckily, there are some tried-and-true-tips to keep your healthy ingredients fresher, longer. Say goodbye to limp lettuce, moldy mushrooms, and sprouting potatoes: Here’s how to keep six common ingredients from going rotten – and to ensure you put every last penny’s worth of that grocery bill to good use!
2 . Problem: Mushy Bananas
A handful of fruits emit ethylene gas to ripen themselves — and bananas are one of them. If you know you won’t be able to eat the entire bunch within a few days, simply wrap the stems (where most of the gas is released) tightly in plastic wrap. This helps reduce the amount of ethylene emitted, slowing the ripening process and keeping the fruit fresh for a longer period of time. The gas also causes other fruits and veggies to ripen more quickly, so this trick will help prevent nearby produce from going bad as well. Like bananas, cantaloupe, nectarines, pears, plums, and tomatoes also emit ethylene gas and should be stored away from other produce.
3 . Problem: Rubbery Celery
Celery is one of those veggies that can quickly go from crisp and crunchy to rubbery and tasteless, but you can lengthen the life of this vegetable by taking a few extra minutes to store it properly. After separating, washing, and drying the stalks, wrap them tightly in aluminum foil. This keeps the air out and moisture in, but still allows the ethylene gas to escape (as opposed to plastic bags, which trap it in), slowing the ripening process and keeping the veggie fresh for up to a few weeks.
4 . Problem: Limp Lettuce
We all grab big heads of leafy lettuce with the intention of serving up light, healthy salads for summer dinners, but a few days go by and suddenly those crisp leaves become limp and soggy. To lengthen the shelf life of leafy greens as well as other produce in your fridge, line the crisper drawer with paper towels. Moisture in the fridge is what causes most fruits and veggies to lose their crisp texture and start to soften and go bad. By lining your fridge’s veggie drawer, you’ll absorb excess moisture and keep fresh produce crunchy for an extended period of time.
5 . Problem: Moldy Berries
As we enter the summer months, shelves packed with delicious, vibrantly colored berries line the produce aisle. With blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries now in season, the low prices make it tempting to pick up a large container — but if you don’t gobble them down quickly, berries can quickly soften and begin to mold. To extend their shelf life, rinse the berries in a vinegar bath (one part vinegar to three parts water), then rinse again with just water to remove any vinegar taste. Once dry, place the berries back in their container and store in the fridge. The vinegar kills bacteria on the berries, which helps prevent mold growth and keeps them fresher, longer.
6 . Problem: Sprouting Potatoes
A big bag of russet potatoes can be a lifesaver on busy weekdays. The starchy vegetable can quickly be turned into a baked potato, French fries, or morning hash browns to feed a hungry family. The downside of keeping a large bag on hand is that potatoes stored for an extended period of time begin to sprout. Keep your spuds ready-to-eat by storing in a cool, dry place, as sunlight and moisture encourage sprouting. Another trick: Throw an apple in with the potatoes. While scientists have mixed opinions about whether this kitchen hack actually rings true, many experimenters claim that adding an apple to the bag does indeed delay the sprouting of potatoes, adding weeks to their shelf life. Give it a try yourself and you be the judge.
7 . Problem: Slimy Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a delicious, hearty ingredient to use in everything from a chopped salad to a morning omelet to a stir-fry, but nothing is more unappetizing than reaching in for the vegetable and pulling out a slimy, mushy mess. To keep mushrooms meaty and fresh for as long as possible, it’s all about how you store them in your kitchen. When we get veggies home, it’s a habit to reach for plastic bags, but for mushrooms, paper should be your go-to. Plastic traps in moisture that causes mushrooms to mildew; opting for paper allows the vegetable to breathe and for moisture to escape, slowing the rate at which they begin to decay .
A proud grand-poppa G.