If you’re like me, you stock up for the week on produce, filling your fridge with lettuce, peppers, berries, herbs, carrots, apples and kale dreaming of all the delicious, healthy meals that await you throughout the week. Dreaming, salivating, waiting…then comes Tuesday and your herbs are wilted, your peppers are all wrinkly and your lettuce is turning brown. Um, how did this happen? After doing some research on best practices for storing and keeping your produce, I realized I was making some pretty big mistakes that I had no idea were wrong. Now that I’ve been enlightened, I’d like to pay it forward to all of you to save you from throwing out perfectly good food and with that, hard earned mullah.
Don’t put your basil in the fridge! This little tip should be taught around the same time we’re learning that a round ball goes into a round hole. Guys, basil goes from bright lime green and beautiful, to shriveled, rubbery black stuff in less than a day in your fridge. Apparently basil hates the cold.
Instead, trim the stems and place your bunch of basil in a glass jar (I reused an Adam’s peanut butter jar) with water, like you would a bouquet of flowers. Leave it somewhere on your counter where it won’t get too much sunlight. This will keep the basil fresh for up to a week. If you have cats like we do, who are more like raccoons, then find another room for your basil, but avoid the cold!
How tired are you of your strawberries getting moldy within days of buying them? There’s always one little moldy berry hiding out at the bottom, unseen upon purchase and then, as soon as you get them home and put them in your fridge, he infects the whole bunch from within and you’re left with a beautiful tub of green fuzzy strawberries. Well thanks to science, there’s a simple solution to this with surprising results.
To keep your berries fresh, soak them in a bath of 1 cup vinegar and 3 cups water for about 5 minutes, then rinse them thoroughly in cold water. Place a clean cloth at the bottom of the container they came in, and put your berries back in. The vinegar kills any bacteria that might be living on the surface which prevents mold from growing.
Your berries will last for up to a week in your fridge before starting to go soft, but they won’t mold! After a week, I used what strawberries were left for smoothies since they were getting too soft for my typical fruit and oats breakfast. Do this with your raspberries and blueberries as well and never worry about moldy berries again! Hooray!
Yet another, “why didn’t anyone tell me this” moment. Potatoes will begin to sprout on your counter after a few days, which doesn’t make them inedible, but makes them, well, kinda weird lookin. To keep your potatoes from sprouting, store them in a breathable sack in a dark, cool place away from heat. You already knew that? Well how about this! Keep your potatoes far away from bananas, onions and other fruits because they’ll spread their evil little spirits into your potatoes telling them to start sprouting. What?! If you already knew that, then you must be watching too much of The Big Bang Theory (bazinga).
These little red fruits of which I’m not a big fan of raw (Yes, I’m aware of the title of my blog, but I explain clearly that I love tomato soup, not raw tomatoes. I am my father’s daughter), tend to get what looks like some kind of flesh eating virus after sitting on your counter for a few days. A simple trick to slow down this rotting process is to store them upside down on your counter to keep air from getting into where the stem used to be. Keep the air out, keep your tomatoes longer. Done, and done.
Tis the season of peaches! I decided to add this section in because earlier in the week I bought four peaches and went to eat one two days later, only to have it be one giant pink, fuzzy bruise. These things aren’t cheap, so instead of tossing them (and my lunch money) into the compost, I decided to cut them all up and freeze them for fruit smoothies. Bonus: freezing your fruit before you make a smoothie eliminates the need for ice cubes which keeps your smoothies from tasting watered down. You still get the nice thick texture, but without sacrificing flavor.
My fool proof peach smoothie recipe: 1 cup of frozen peach slices, 1/2 fresh banana, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 cup of almond milk. Blend on high for 1 minute to incorporate air and get it nice and thick, and voila! anytime smoothie.
Okay, I know flowers aren’t produce, but they’re still prone to quick decay if not properly taken care of. Flowers are tricky because some flowers just last longer than others, regardless of how well you treat them. I recently read a recipe that’s supposed to keep your flowers fresh for longer than if you just placed them in a vase with water. I tried it out and here’s what I got. First, the recipe.
DIY Flower Food
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp vinegar
- 1 quart (4 cups) of water
Directions: Stir all together and add flowers.
To test this out, I bought a bouquet of flowers and split it in two, placing half of the flowers in a jar with just water and the other half in a jar with this magical flower food.
After six days I took photos of each bouquet to see which ones looked the best. At this time, I have to be honest, the flowers in just water looked better! But wait, the plot thickens.
Out of total laziness, I ended up leaving the flowers in the vases for another two weeks and behold, although all of the flowers are dead, the ones in the vase with flower food are still upright! (sorry no photos…trust me, they’re still all dead) The flowers in just water have completely fallen over, stems like mush and petals all dry. With that knowledge, which is better?
I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions, but if I were to rate the two bouquets, I’d give the just water bunch a 6 overall and the flower food bunch a 6.5. Do you have any fool proof flower saving recipes? Please share!
In general, a good rule of thumb is to try and only buy as much produce as you can eat in a week. Produce doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) have preservatives that will make it last for as long as, say, a twinkie. Once picked, it will begin to slowly decay and lose flavor, texture and color within a week’s time.
If you find yourself tossing out a lot of produce each week, buy half of what you normally buy and see if you end up throwing any of it out. Do your best to plan your meals ahead of time and take a list with you to the store to keep you focused on what you actually need. Impulse buys typically lead to waste. And come on, ain’t nobody got time for that!