How To Make Fresh Food Last Longer – So You Don't Have To Keep Going To The Shops

Waste not, want not.

Because going to the shops several times a week isn't essential.

Now, more than ever, we need clever hacks, tips and tricks for keeping food fresh for longer.

If you’ve been to the supermarket in the last week or so, you know it can be an extremely chaotic experience amid the coronavirus pandemic. Shop assistants are running around doing their best to restock as customers are literally climbing into freezers to reach the last pack of frozen vegetables shoved in the very back of the top shelf. People are swarming the toilet roll aisles and those preoccupied with crossing items off their lists are temporarily breaking the rule of 2-metre social distancing in order to get their hands on the ripest bananas.

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That combined with the fact that staying at home is not only encouraged but government-enforced, it's best for everyone if you can cut way down on your trips to the supermarket. Unless you're able to solely stock up on pantry staples, this can be a tricky art to master. Essential items like bread, milk, fruit and vegetables have expiry dates, short ones too. So with that in mind and in an attempt to reduce the need for supermarket trips, we've rounded up some of the best storage hacks to help make fresh food last longer. 

remember, the freezer is your friend

It's not just meats and ice cream that can live in your freezer. A lot more foods than you might think can be kept in the freezer to extend their shelf life. Think butter, eggs, flour, bananas and even wine. Click here for a handy guide on what can and can't be put in your freezer. 

pop an apple in with your potatoes 

Because of the ethylene in the fruit, adding an apple to a bag of potatoes will stop them from sprouting.

wrap bananas in cling film

Once one banana from the bunch is ripe enough to eat, the whole lot is. So, to stop them getting too ripe before you’ve had a chance to eat them, wrap a little cling film around the top of the bunch. This will give you a few more days of freshness.

And keep away from your fruit bowl. 

Because of the amount of ethylene bananas emit, storing them with soft fruits and vegetables, such as avocados and tomatoes, will make those items go off quicker. Saying that, if you have an avocado that’s not ripe and you want it on toast for breakfast tomorrow, pop it in a bag with a banana, and it will be spot on first thing.

store salad with kitchen roll

To extend the life of bagged greens, transfer them into a plastic storage container lined with paper towels, then add another layer of paper towels before locking the lid on. The Kitchn found that the hard sides prevent the leafy greens from getting crushed, and the paper towels serve to absorb moisture. The experimenter found that, for the most part, the greens were still good after 10 days.

wash berries in vinegar

This one may sound strange, but there's a whole host of foodie websites and blogs that recommend washing berries in a water-vinegar mix to keep them fresh. As soon as you buy them, put them in a large bowl and wash them in distilled white vinegar and water, before rinsing, waiting until they're completely dry, and refrigerating them in a container lined with kitchen roll.

wrap avocados in lettuce leaves

In the past, we’ve tried everything to stop avocados going brown, including lemon juice (but who wants everything to taste like lemon?) But lettuce leaves do the job perfectly and will keep your avocado nice and green for up to a week.

store mushrooms in a paper bag

Vegetable shops use these bad boys for a reason – paper bags keep mushrooms much more efficiently than the usual plastic tubs. Moisture is a slime sentence for mushrooms, so storing them this way keeps them clean and dry (and if you leave them too long and find they get too dry, you can give them a quick rinse in the sink and they'll plump right back up).

ditch the plastic on your cheese

Any cheese expert will tell you that plastic-wrap is the worst way to store hard cheeses such as cheddar, not least because it can spoil the flavour. Specific cheese bags or cheese paper is best, but baking parchment will work too, and this should ideally be replaced each time you use the cheese.

treat herbs like a bouquet of flowers

This may look mad (a bit like you’ve got your herbs mixed up with your daffodils…), but buying fresh herbs in a bag and keeping them in there is a surefire route to grassy mush. Instead, use what you need on the day, and then store the rest of the bunch in a glass of water on the windowsill.

Store onions in tights

Speaking of looking mad...store onions in tights – not your M&S finest, obviously. Put them in one at a time, knot between each bulb and keep them in a dark, dry place until you need them. Yes, your housemates will probably question your life choices – until they've run out of dinner ingredients and it's old onion-tights to the rescue, that is.

Main image by @isabellath on Instagram

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