Now is a great time to learn how to get more out of the produce you buy. This hot summer weather always seems to make all of the fresh produce in the house go haywire; you blink and the bananas are brown, leafy greens have gone black and the potatoes have sprouted mammoth roots and are trying to climb their way out of the bag. Even the fridge is struggling to keep up with the climbing mercury…
So we thought we would share our tips and tricks on how to keep all that lovely produce last longer, stay fresher and reduce waste. From fresh meat to leafy herbs, we have pulled together a list of ways to keep your food fresh and full of flavour for as long as possible.
Thebest thing for meat is to take it out of any exterior packaging. If it’s already in butcher’s paper then that is ideal as it’s designed for storing meat for longer periods, but brown/baking paper works really well too. Make sure that it is tightly wrapped so that there is no air circulation and store it on the lower shelves of your fridge. If you want to freeze the meat, put that tightly wrapped paper package into a zip lock bag to minimize air and moisture exposure. This bag can be used again and again so you don’t have to feel too guilty.
POTATOES AND ONIONS:
Did you know that if you put your potatoes and onions in the same area that the gases in the onions actually encourage the potatoes to sprout? Keep the potatoes and onions separate in a cool, dry and dark spot inside a perforated paper bag so that excess moisture can evaporate.
VEG AND SALAD:
Store fresh salad and other leafy greens in a clean container wrapped with paper towels; they will stay fresh for up to ten days like this. We recommend containers because they rescue the leaves from being crushed by other heavier objects in the fridge and paper towels help to keep the leaves dry. Don’t place it anywhere near ethylene-producing fruit, an over-ripened apple, banana or rotten fruit can cause the greens to wilt and decay faster.
Keep other veg such as beans, broccoli, courgettes etc. in the fridge in mesh bags. This keeps them dry and ventilated and they will last double your usual expectations.
Another great tip is to keep all the offcuts; everything from carrot peels, the end of the lettuce, parsley stalks or unwanted tops and tails of green beans in a bag in the freezer. This mishmash of unwanted veg makes the most amazing stock! Once the bag is full tip it into a pan with some onions and some of those frozen herbs and cover in water. Bubble away for an hour or two at a low heat. Once cooled, this stock can then be frozen in ice cubes and we promise you won’t go back to bog-standard stock cubes ever again.
Tomatoes should be kept away from sunlight, stems up, and at room temperature on your kitchen counter. Keep them as a single layer and try not to have them touch/put pressure on each other. By keeping the tomatoes stem up here you are reducing softening and darkening of the fruit. And overripe tomatoes? Don’t throw them out just yet! You know a tomato is overripe when it is very soft if gently squeezed and has very red skin. Transfer overripe tomatoes to the fridge and they will keep for another two/three days. The cold air will keep the tomatoes from further ripening. To avoid moisture loss and wrinkly tomatoes, keep them in a punnet or clam shelled container. Do make sure to let the tomatoes get to room temperature before you eat them from the fridge to bring back the original tastes (we recommend around an hour before eating).
Didyou know that lemons prefer being in the fridge? As much as they look lovely piled in a bowl on a countertop, if you are trying to get the most of them pop them in a mesh or brown paper bag in the vegetable drawer. Once you have cut the lemon and you are left with that pesky half, slice that into thin rounds and place them on layers of brown paper in a container in the freezer. They make the best, already chilled, garnish to that evening G&T.
Take any hard and semi soft cheeses out of their packets and wrap each wedge tightly in brown paper, you can store multiple types together in a dry airtight container.
Basil is a tropical plant and hates the cold, so if you keep it in the fridge it turns black quickly. Instead, treat it like a bunch of cut flowers and pop in a glass of water on a shady counter, then place a zip-top plastic bag over the plant to allow it to breathe and stay moist.
Leafy herbs like Dill, Coriander and Parsley love a cool spot so keep them in the vegetable drawer in the fridge, if they come to you in plastic make sure you open the top of the packet so that they can breath. You might also be surprised to know that they freeze really well, so once you have used what you need fresh for a dish, chop them finely into small bags or containers in the freezer. Then you can use them again for 6-8 weeks. Pop them straight into the dish, don’t let them defrost first or they go soggy.
We struggled for years not using a whole knob of ginger and watching it lie languishing in the fridge for weeks getting sadder and sadder, then one of our Chef friends let us in on this tip; grate or mince the entire knob and freeze it in little balls in a ziplock in the freezer. It’s just as zingy and so much easier to deal with!!
We hope this helps you get the most out of your fresh produce, and, if you need a top-up…tick off your grocery list and shop our aisles!