Keep fruit and veg fresher for longer and save money, by following these simple tips and tricks.
It’s often more cost effective and convenient to do a big food shop. It is important to store fruit and veg correctly as they have a limited shelf life. Doing this will ensure that they stay fresh for longer and you don’t end up chucking them out.
In fact the organisation WRAP calculated that in 2018 UK households chucked £60 worth of food every single month. A high proportion of wasted food is fresh vegetables and salad with some of the most wasted culprits being potatoes and carrots.
Fruits and vegetables that need to be in the refrigerator
The majority of fruits and vegetables last longest when stored in the fridge. Make sure your fridge is set to the correct temperature. If it’s too cold delicate ingredients could freeze and spoil. Your fridge should be kept in the range of 3-5C. You can use a fridge thermometer to monitor the temperature.
What counts as portion towards your 5 a day? Find out here…
Make sure that everything has ample space and doesn’t get squashed. Use the the first in, first out philosophy. Always eat the oldest produce before newer additions. It’s also important to organise your fridge correctly in order to keep food fresher for longer.
To ripen fruit and avocados it’s best to leave it out of the fridge. However you can always returning it to the cool if it’s getting too soft. Beware that not all fruit and veg should be kept in the refrigerator. Some things such as bananas, potatoes, onions and garlic are best stored out of the fridge in a cool place.
How to store salad
We actually avoid buying bagged salad as it often turn pretty gross in the bottom of the bag if we don’t eat it in time. Instead we buy whole lettuces as they last longer. You can even regrow lettuce at home!
However if your preference is the bagged variety then make sure you store it in the fridge, and that it doesn’t get squashed or touch the back of the fridge. Once you open the bag transfer any leftover into a sealable container and put into the fridge to avoid the leaves wilting.
How to store potatoes
Potatoes can last a really long time if stored correctly. Store your tatties in a bag or box with good ventilation such as a cardboard box or hessian bag. This will allow them to breath, but also keep them in the dark. Avoid using a plastic bag to store your potatoes, and keep them away from onions as this can cause them to ripen prematurely.
Keep ‘em cold, but not too cold. Ideally potatoes should be kept at around 10C. A larder is the ideal place, but if you don’t have the luxury of a room dedicated entirely to food then in the garage, or even a cool dry cupboard is fine. Don’t be tempted to keep potatoes in the fridge as this will turn the starch into sugar and impair the flavour.
You can still eat potatoes that have started growing sprouts, simply cut them out. Just void any potatoes that are very soft or shrivelled as these can make you ill.
How to keep fruit and vegetables fresh after peeling and chopping
We would normally recommend that you prepare your veg freshly. Peeling and cutting fruit and vegetables in advance can be detrimental to their flavour and nutritional value. As soon as fruits and vegetables are cut into they are exposed to oxygen and light, this causes the vitamins to break down. Some fruits that oxidise very rapidly, such as apples, potatoes and avocados, will also turn brown. This is because the enzymes inside are being exposed to and reacting with the oxygen in the air.
There are a couple simple tricks that will slow down oxidisation. To stop fruit turning brown once cut coat it in a juice high in antioxidants, such as lemon, lime or pineapple. For example if you are making a fruit salad you could add a little lemon juice to the dressing.
For vegetables that turn brown very quickly such as celeriac or globe artichokes it more common to soak them in acidulated water. To make acidulated water add 1tsp of cider vinegar or lemon juice to about 500ml of cold water. It’s not advised to soak veg for an extended period, but it will certainly stop it from changing colour while you are prepping the rest of the meal.
For some fruits such as citrus fruits, they wont turn brown, but will dry out once cut. So once cut store them in the fridge wrapped in a piece of bees wax wrap or cling.
If you have leftover fruit and veg that you wont have the opportunity to eat before it goes bad transform them into something with a longer shelf life. Pickles and preserves are a great thing make to save fruit and veg from the bin.
Another good idea is batch cooking. If you have leftovers quickly cook them into something simple such as a soup or lasagne. Then you can freeze portions and defrost them when you don’t have time to prepare a meal.
Grow your own
A great way to save money is to grow vegetables at home. Either from plants, seeds or even scraps. Yes, scraps! You may be surprised to hear that you can easily regrow vegetables from offcuts. Beetroot, turnips, carrots, spring onions, celery, and even lettuce can all be easily grown from the ends that most people chuck in the bin. And it only take a few weeks.
To simply regrow vegetables from scraps we love the Brabantia Regrow Kit. It has a floating disk so the roots can happily float suspended in water. Once your vegetables begin to grow you can even transfer them into planters to free up space for more. Soon you’ll have an entire vegetable patch on your windowsill!