Learning how to store food right seriously reduces food waste! Here are 10 great tips
By Chere Di Boscio
Here’s a shocking fact: the average family of four spends $1,500 each year on food that ends up uneaten.
Food waste is seriously tragic. Loads of water, energy, fertiliser and effort is put into producing, processing, and transporting food. So, when we waste food, we waste all of the inputs that contributed to its manufacturing, too.
But that’s not all!
When food decomposes in a landfill, methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is emitted. And did you know that food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills? Or that municipal solid waste landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States?
In short, food waste is a bigger problem than you think.
Luckily, there are some solutions, though.
For example, it’s a good idea to know where to put food in the fridge.
The door is the warmest part of the fridge. You can store condiments there, but avoid putting milk or meat there. On the other hand, the lower shelves are the coldest part of the fridge. So you should store meat, poultry, and fish there.
Looking for more ways to store food properly, so you can avoid wasting food? Read on!
10 Tips On How To Store Food Right
1. Never store apples and bananas together
To ensure a longer shelf life, you should never store bananas next to apples.This is because apples emit the ripening gas ethylene during the ripening process. This causes other fruit, such as bananas, to turn brown faster. The same applies to avocados, mangoes or peaches. All stay fresh significantly longer if you store them away from apples.
2. Take off the plastic
Veggies from the supermarket often come in plastic packaging. And that is how they are stored more often than not. The plastic packaging, however, does not allow ample air circulation. The result: The veggies basically start to “sweat”. The subsequent humidity that is trapped inside the packaging allows germs to spread more easily and causes your food to turn bad faster.
3. Transfer food from tins to bowls
It might be tempting to toss an opened can of tomatoes, tuna or another tinned food into the fridge after you’ve opened the an. However, after awhile, the food will take on the metallic taste of the can. It might not mean the food has gone bad. But nonetheless, it might get thrown away due to an unpleasant taste. Your best bet? After opening a tin, put any unfinished food into a glass bowl and cover it with a small lid, plate, or plastic wrap.
4. Remove leaves from veggies
Some types of vegetables, such as carrots or radishes, should be stored without their leaves. That is because, if you remove the leafy green, the roots – i.e. the actual vegetable – do not dry out as quickly. After the vegetables have been harvested, the leaves wither, drawing moisture from the carrot or the radish. Without their leaves, veggies stay fresh longer and are less likely to shrivel and soften.
5. Don’t wash fruits and vegetables immediately after shopping
Though it may be tempting to do, don’t wash your fruits and vegetables right after buying them. Some foods have a natural “coat” of dust or dirt that keeps germs away. Washing that away makes the food more vulnerable to going off. Additionally, many foods start to mould faster if they are not completely dry and stored in the refrigerator. It’s best to just wash food before you are ready to eat it.
6. Dry leafy greens & herbs
Leafy greens tend to go off quickly. To prevent that from happening, place the leaves in sandwich bags. Lay a dry paper towel in the bag with them to absorb any condensation that builds up, and put the bag in the fridge. Wash just before using. Smaller, younger leaves may last only a week, since they’re even more delicate than mature leaves.
7. Let root veggies breathe
Root vegetables tend to be hardier than other vegetables. This makes them easier to store since they don’t need refrigeration. Follow these steps to really make them last!
- Remove any leaves, as mentioned in point 4. And don’t wash the vegetables, as mentioned in point 5, above.
- Set potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and garlic in bright sunshine for a few hours before storing, if possible. This will get rid of any moisture that could cause mildew or rot.
- Store onions and garlic in a single layer in shallow boxes or bags lined with breathable fabric in a cool, dry place.
- Pack your other vegetables into a box or crate in layers of sand. The sand keeps the vegetables cool and dry. Place the box in a cool, dry place such as a root cellar, closet, or basement. Your veggies can last for months this way!
8. Befriend the freezer!
Fancy a slice of toast or two, but have no choice but to buy a whole loaf? No problem! Buy the loaf, then just remove it from the freezer, cut off what you need, and replace it. If you can get the loaf pre-sliced, even better. This is one of my favourite tips on how to store food!
But it’s not just bread that freezes well. Sliced fruit, meat, or leftovers that you know won’t be eaten in time can all go in there, no problem. In fact, you can even chop up veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, onions and even herbs that you think will go off before you can eat them. Just place them into plastic bags, and label the contents and the date.
9. Consider different types of cheese
When storing a soft, semi-soft or semi-hard cheese, wrap the cheese in cheese paper (ideal) or waxed or parchment paper. This allows it to “breathe.” Soft cheese needs to have some exposure to air so it doesn’t become too watery. A bell jar can also be used to cover soft cheese in the refrigerator. According to formaticum.com, “Cheese stored under a dome creates its own climate, ensuring proper humidity every time.”
For hard cheese, it’s a bit easier. It’s best to place it in plastic wrap, or in a sealed plastic bag or glass container.
10. Make your eggs last longer
It’s common for us to consider the pointed side of the egg as the top and the larger, more rounded side as the bottom. However, the next time you buy a carton of eggs, look at how they’re oriented. They should be round side up, pointed side down. That’s because there’s a naturally occurring air bubble inside each egg’s rounded side, which helps keep the yolk more centered inside the egg and, in turn, will help your eggs stay fresh longer.
Keep your eggs in the container you purchased them in to prevent breakage. Eggs should be kept at 45 degrees F or lower, according to EggSafety.com. So yes, stick them in the fridge, but in the container.
Since eggshells are so porous, bacteria that form on used eggshells can easily contaminate the rest of your eggs, making them unsafe to eat. So never return used eggs to a carton if you don’t plan to discard them immediately. According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, you should never reuse an old egg carton for that same reason, too.
Do you have any tips of your own on how to store food right to reduce waste? Let us know in the comments, below!