Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tips To Make Your Produce Last Longer

If you're constantly going through the fridge and tossing rotten fruit and vegetables in the trash as part of your weekly ritual, you're not alone.  About 40% of all food in the US goes to waste according to the NRDC  (National Resource Defense Council).  The average American wastes about $28 to $43 in food each month which is approx. 20 lbs of food.  Fruits and vegetables make up 35% of which goes to waste.

For the majority of us, money is tight these days, so preventing wasted produce can help save you money.  I eat more organic fruits and vegetables in my diet than ever before, and since I am on a tight budget, I had to find a way to extend the life of my produce.

Here is my list of helpful tips to make your produce last longer and save you money:

1) Onions:  When you buy a bag of onions, store them in pantyhose (as strange as that may sound).  Take a pair of pantyhose and put one onion in the foot of the hose, then seal it off with a knot.  Add another onion and repeat until hose is full.  Hang it up so they have room to breathe and they can last up to 8 months.

2) Celery:  My celery used to turn soft within 2 days stored in the plastic bag from the grocery store.  Now I wrap my celery in aluminum foil and the stalks stay crisp for 4 weeks or more.  This works for broccoli as well.

3) Bananas:  Try to buy the green bananas as they will ripen quickly.  To keep bananas from turning brown faster, wrap the crown of the bananas with plastic wrap and keep them isolated on the counter.

4) Tomatoes:  Don't store tomatoes in plastic bags!  Unripe tomatoes should be kept stem side down in a paper bag on the counter at room temperature.  Ripe tomatoes should be stored in the fridge.

5) Lettuce:  Fresh lettuce can be kept longer after washing if you store it in a plastic container with paper towels on the bottom and top of the lettuce to absorb any additional moisture.  Change paper towels on top often if wet, and your lettuce will stay fresh for a week.

6) Mushrooms:  Put mushrooms in a paper bag in the fridge or in a cool dry place.  A plastic bag will trap moisture and cause them to mildew.

7) Berries:  All you need to make your fresh berries last longer is white vinegar, spring water and a large bowl.  Combine 4 cups of water with 1/2 cup vinegar in a bowl.  Place berries in the mixture to kill the bacteria and remove.  Lay the berries on a paper towel to dry.  As long as you let the berries dry completely you won't taste the vinegar, this evaporates into the air.  Store in a plastic container in the fridge and they will last for a week.

8) Potatoes:  Potatoes will last longer and keep from sprouting by adding an apple to them and placing them in a paper bag.  Store in the fridge.

9) Avocados:  Slice a ripe avocado in half and keep the pit in one side.  Slice a red onion and store together in a covered container.  The sulfuric acid in the red onion stops the avocado from turning brown.  

10) Carrots:  Cut the top greens off the carrots immediately after purchasing.  These greens suck the water out of the carrots and make the carrots bend.  Keep them crisp in the fridge.

Extra Tips:

* Don't wash produce until ready to eat

* Store fruits and vegetables separately

* Freeze extra produce for later use

I hope these tips help you to keep your fruits and vegetables last longer.  Please feel free to share your produce saving tips!

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