Friday, January 4, 2013

Nine Ways to Keep Produce Lasting Longer


citrus farmers market ramblingsofmitzy "Michelle Bowman" produce "save grocery budget"
I absolutely love shopping for my fresh food items at the Farmers' Market. I can support my local economy, decrease my carbon footprint by buying locally, and know that I am supporting fair farming practices.

But, this brings me to the topic at hand. Food waste. Don't you absolutely hate throwing away unused foods? I know I do. Nothing irritates me more. Not only is it a waste of money, it really is an enormous waste of our environmental resources. Think about it like this: you are literally throwing away CASH- that bundle of asparagus was FIVE dollars.



We have a little family, with two little eaters (me & Nugget), so anything we can do to extend the life of our groceries is always a good thing.
 
I've done a lot of thinking and a ton of reading to figure out how to waste less food. So, I'm going to share nine of my tips to getting some of your produce to last longer.
  • Bananas: Separate each banana from the bunch. Keeping them together actually speeds up the ripening process. When they're nearly black, peel and toss in the freezer for smoothies, banana pancakes, breads or muffins. 
  • Celery: Cut and place in container with water, replace water every few days. Will last up to 10 days (sometimes longer). Chop and toss in the freezer when it's end is near to use in soups and stocks. You can even take rubbery uncut stalks and use them when making soups, stews or even under your roasts!
  • Lettuce: Skip the bagged lettuce! The method of cutting lettuce causes the lettuce to brown quicker (as is using anything metal to cut it). Also, buying a whole head is also much more economical! You can place in a plastic baggie or container with a damp towel around it, removing what you need and taking care to wash just before use. You can also separate the leaves, soak in a bowl to remove debris, then place same towel on bottom of container, laying the lettuce on top of it, making sure to cover with a tight seal. Each technique has its' benefits, but the second method can keep lettuce up to two weeks. 
  • Green Onions: Remove from roots and chop, placing them in sealed container. OR, place in container of water on counter. Both methods keep for up to two weeks. Usually, when I buy green onions, I put in the refrigerator and if I haven't cut in a week or so, I then place on the counter in water container. This even works for green onions that have gone limp. It stiffens them right back up! 
  • Avocado: It depends on the method in which you intend on consuming your avocado. If you want it mashed, you can freeze it with a little lime/lemon juice and it won't change color. If you want it as a smash, you can refrigerate it, but here's my trick: layer some cling wrap along the top layer, touching the avocado smash entirely, preventing ANY air from touching. Then cover and seal in container. I prefer ball jars for this method, as it reduces the amount of surface area present, but any sealable container works. You can rub lemon juice directly on a halved avocado, with seed still inside, and wrap in cling wrap, placing this in a sealed container as well. But this method is not fail-proof.  
  • Asparagus: Don't let it dry out. You want to keep them moist. The asparagus pulls liquid from the bottom, keeping the tips fresh (and they keep growing slightly, too!). Then the bunch will pull water from the outer stalks, and those shrivel. Use within a week. 
  • Pears & Peaches: Refrigeration. The thing about pears and peaches is that they are picked when they are ripe, unlike Apples, so they will not continue to ripen after picking. Placing them in the refrigerator will help preserve them up to a few weeks after purchase. But I always say, a perfect pear is a pear that's about to be eaten! 
  • Grapes:  You want to keep them at room temperature and not wash them until YOU ARE planning to consume THEM. Washing beforehand removes the natural yeasty sugars from the skin and opens them up to molding much quicker. FREEZER! I have never in my life considered this method until some of my pregnant friends suggested I try it. Grapes from the freezer is phenomenal! When you bite into them, the crisp squirt, YUMMO! I know, this isn't exactly a method which preserves them, but it counts to me!
  • Berries: Never leave berries in their original container. They always mold so quickly there. You want to place them in a large Ball-type jar, with a towel on the end, rubber banded on. Give it a turn each day, keeping the berries moving so they don't sit in their own juices. This will give you a few extra days of refrigeration time.
So, there you have it. My little tips to get a little more life out of my grocery budget. Do you have any tips that I haven't shared? 



20 comments:

  1. Thank you, Michelle! I hadn't heard a few of these and will be implementing them right away.

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  2. Omgoodness...these tips are so helpful. I am going to start refrigerating my peaches now. And, I didn't know about separating the bananas - good tips!

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  3. These Tips are great! Thanks for the post I will definitely try some of these especially the Grapes!

    Thanks again.

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  4. I agree about the frozen grapes - they are so sweet tasting that way. Another great way to preserve grapes is by drying into raisins. Thanks for the tip about separating bananas. I had never heard that one.

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  5. Oooooohhhh Grapes in the Freezer! That does sound good. My kids would love that! Im bookmarking this page. This is helpful info, thanks.

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  6. this is so awesome, i love frozen grapes!! thanks for sharing, love your blog!

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  7. I did know about the bananas but not a lot of the other things. One tip I have for you is never to store apples with other produce. Ripening apples, as well as other fruits and vegetables (especially avocados, pears and peaches) give off ethylene, this hastens ripening. So if you store apples with other fruits, especially in a closed area they will ripen faster. Even the apple will -- if you put an apple in a plastic or paper bag, it will ripen faster than one sitting on the counter next to the bag.

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  8. Thanks for sharing! I didn't know you have to separate the bananas to stop them from ripening to fast

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  9. Thanks for the great tips, really helpful!

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  10. I have this issue. It drives me bonkers...just throwing my money down the drain! I know I need to change my ways.

    Wendy T

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  11. I have been told that if you cover the top end of the bananas with wrap or foil (basically seal them) they will last longer. Haven'tr tried but I will next time i Get them.

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  12. Thank you for posting these great tips. The one about keeping berries fresh is very interesting, something I've never heard of.....Tank you.

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  13. That is such great information to have on food!

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  14. One tip I received about berries that I find REALLY works: right when you get home, cover your berries with cold tap water and a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar. Soak for 20 minutes, drain well, and keep them in a bowl lined with a paper towel. Apparently this kills the mold that is already on the berries when you buy them. I also found these turmeric paper sheets that I put in my veggie drawer and everything stays fresher longer!

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  15. These are all really great tips...I will use these with my veggies and fruits to get them to last longer...thank you.

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  16. Wow, those are good tips. I didn't know all of that. I'll especially have to remember the tip about the berries.

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  17. I didn't know how to properly store any of these foods. I guess the saying is true you do learn something new everyday!

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  18. wow, those are really amazing tips! thanks for sharing.

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  19. These are excellent tips. Finally, no more fuzzy strawberries!

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  20. this is my number one pet peeve when i let my produce go bad and i wanted to eat it!!! :( these are definitely tips i am keeping close! thanks!!

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Thanks a bunch for your comment love!