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.