12 storage tricks that’ll make your food last longer
There's nothing more soul destroying than watching your food whither away in front of your eyes whilst you stand around feeling helpless. Those days are over!
Buying in bulk – or at least opting for bigger shopping loads at the supermarket – rather than nipping out for bits and pieces every day at your local shops, will save you cash.
But if everything is set to go mouldy in a day or two, you've either got to wave goodbye to the saving, or scoff five times more food than you normally would just so you can avoid the pain of watching it rot (although, these great tips will show you how to bring some foods back from the dead!).
Here's some pretty engenius tricks you can pull to make your food shopping haul last up to three times as long. Think of the cash (and tears) you'll be saving!
12 hacks to keep your food fresh for longer
Let cheese breathe
There's a tendency to think the best way to keep cheese (and to keep it from stinking the whole fridge/ kitchen/ entire flat out) is to wrap it up good and proper.
However, the best way to store cheese so it lasts is to wrap it in a porous paper so it can still breathe. We're talking something like baking parchment, rather than cling film.
Some say that it also helps to wrap cheese in kitchen towel that has some vinegar sprinkled on it, as this works to kill off any bacteria forming on the surface of the cheese.
Treat herbs like flowers
Keeping herbs fresher for longer is a real tough one. If we're being totally honest, how many of us can say we've managed to use up a whole bunch of fresh herbs before they've gone sad and slimey?
Everyone has their own method of keeping herbs fresh – some swear by wrapping them up in newspaper before popping in the fridge, as this will keep them dry and also prevent them from getting too chilled.
Another option is to treat them like a nice little bunch of flowers – pop them in a glass of water and place a plastic bag over the top. Adding an elastic band round the glass will create a greenhouse environment for the herbs, which should keep them fresher for longer (p.s. the same goes for asparagus!).
Otherwise, you can also dry herbs out by tying them together at the stem and hanging near a window in a dry spot. Oily herbs like thyme and rosemary are best kept this way regardless, as they don't cope so well in the fridge.
Wrap broccoli in foil
Credit: Brock Davis – Flickr
Tightly wrapping up your celery or broccoli in tin foil is the perfect way to keep it fresh and crisp – and in the fridge it can last this way up to 4 weeks!
This is because tin foil will keep the veggies clean and fresh, but it's porous enough the allow any ethylene (a ripening hormone) to escape.
Store onions in tights
Finally the day has come – you've finally found a practical use for all those completely unwearable tights covered in ladders!
As mental as you may feel putting this plan into action, storing onions in old pairs of tights and hanging them in a dark cupboard can make them last for up to 8 months!
Keeping them in a dark place and giving them as much air around them as possible is the key to making them last, so tying a knot in the tights between each onion will make this even more effective.
Bonus tip: Never store onions along with potatoes – they spoil faster!
Wash berries in vinegar
Credit:OakleyOriginals – Flickr
Before you put berries in the fridge, wash them in solution of one part vinegar and three parts water.
This will kill off any bacteria that's already on the fruit, so the chances of anything growing on it whilst it's in the fridge is much lower.
And don't worry – as long as you keep the solution measurements right, you won't taste the vinegar!
Lemon up your avo
Avocados are one of those annoying fruits that are pretty near impossible to get at their perfect stage – they’re either hard as a rock, or have skipped to the squidgy brown stage.
The trick with avos is much like tomatoes: let it ripen out of the fridge, and when it seems just ready for eating (a bit squidgy to the touch but not too soft), you can pop it in the fridge to preserve at that stage until you're ready to devour it.
If you have a half avo left over, keep the stone in and brush a bit of lemon on the exposed flesh to stop it from going brown. Problem solved!
Store lettuce with kitchen towel
As with fresh herbs, keeping lettuce leaves at their best for longer is one of those things that everyone has their own method that they swear by.
However the general consensus is that the less moisture involved, the better. We've tried and tested pretty much every method and found that storing leaves (dried as much as possible first of all) in a container or food bag, with a piece of kitchen roll to pick up any excess moisture is the most effective.
Just remember to change the kitchen towel every few days so it stays dry!
Keep bananas away from...everything!
Bananas are the clingiest of fruits – separate a banana from it's brothers and sisters and you'll see it turn sad and brown quicker than you expected.
The key is to keep them as a bunch, and go one step futher by wrapping up the conjoined stalks tightly in cling film (removing and re-wrapping tightly again every time you remove one from the bunch).
This should prevent the ethylene in the stalks from reaching the rest of the bananas, and can apparently help bananas last up to 5 days longer.
Bananas emit more ethylene than any other fruit, so it’s best to keep them separate from other fruits (on the other hand, if you’ve got some solid avocados or tomatoes, sticking them in a plastic bag with a banana for a day will ripen them up nicely!).
Freeze spring onions in bottles
Like a bit of spring onion in your salad? Of course you do, you're only human. But it seems almost impossible to get through the whole bunch before they go brown and gross.
Make your spring onions last for months by chopping them up, leaving them out to dry completely then freezing them in an empty water bottle.
As long as there’s no moisture when you close the bottle, you’ll be able to easily shake out a few portions daily without them sticking together and without any freezer burn whatsoever!
Trim your roots
If you tend to go for organic root veg with its roots still attached, that's all very nice and well, but make sure you remove the roots as soon as you get home.
As healthy and hearty as they look with their greens still attached, these actually steal the nutrients from the rest of the veg and will result in them dying out early.
To fridge or not to fridge a tomato?
You've probably been told this numerous times, but still struggle to be convinced – keep your tomatoes out of the fridge? You what?!
But there really is some truth to the rumours – however, it requires a bit of your own judgement to get it right.
Keeping tomatoes in the fridge prevents them from ripening, meaning they can be a bit hard and watery straight from the cold (particularly if you've gone for larger supermarket tomatoes, which tend to be a bit pale and watery looking). However, if they're already bright red and looking ripe to eat, fridging them can stave off the rotting process.
Keeping your tomatoes out of the fridge (but in a cool place) will allow them to ripen and for the flavours to develop, but if you don't plan on eating them for a few days, it's still worth popping them in the fridge to delay the ripening process 'til you're ready.
Bonus tip: If they’re still on the vine, it's apparently best to keep them stem-down, as it stops air from getting in and moisture from getting out.
Keep mushrooms in a paper bag
Another one best kept out the fridge, mushrooms will keep longer if they're in a cool, dry place.
Most suggest keeping them wrapped in paper or in a paper bag to reduce moisture levels as much as possible, as staying clean and dry is the key to mushroom longevity.
Bonus tip: If they go a bit too far on the dry side and look a little shrivelled, a quick run under the tap should see them plump back up again.
Got any good food storage hacks you're willing to share? Let us in on your secret!