Too often we throw away food that wasted away on the kitchen counter or pantry shelf before we could consume it. Sometimes we purchase more than we need, but many times food spoils before we have the opportunity to cook with it. Thankfully, there are some things we can do to make the food we bring home last a little longer.
Related: How to Build a Food Pantry - eHow
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Put It Under Wraps
Many people know that hanging up bananas helps this fruit stay fresh by avoiding bruising. However, if you wrap the stems with plastic wrap, the fruit also will stay fresh longer. The plastic wrap prevents the release of ethylene gases, which speeds up the ripening process.
Reveal a Softer Side
Most folks don't use brown sugar often, so it's not surprising that they find it hardened when they grab it from the pantry. To make it soft again, store brown sugar in an airtight container along with an apple slice or a slice of fresh bread. Once the sugar has soften, usually in a day or two, remove the fruit.
Related: How to Soften Hard Brown Sugar
Turn It Upside Down
Keep tomatoes fresh longer by storing them at room temperature, not in the refrigerator. Also, place tomatoes upside down, with the stem facing down. This reduces airflow into the tomato and moisture from escaping out of the tomato where it was once attached to the vine.
Keeping Up Appearances
Slicing potatoes releases starch that, when it starts to oxidize, turns the potatoes gray or brown. No one wants this, especially if prepping potatoes to cook at a later time. To keep potatoes white, cover them in cold water. You can even store them in the refrigerator overnight and still have white potatoes the next day.
An Apple A Day
While it's true apples are good for our bodies, it's also true that apples keep potatoes fresher longer. Apples emit ethylene gas, which prevents sprouting on the potatoes. Just place an apple in the bag of potatoes, and store in a dark, dry place.
Soak in the Bath
Before you toss those wilted salad greens, toss them into an ice water bath. Allow them to sit for a little while. As the greens soak, the water will rehydrate the leaves' cells. You'll see the greens firm back up, and, when you're ready, you can remove them from the water and proceed with your cooking.
Staying Berry Good
With a little prep, berries can stay fresh for many days. Before storing, wash berries in a mixture of one part vinegar and three parts water, which acts as a natural disinfectant and mold killer. Be sure the berries are completely dry prior to storing in an airtight container. Line the container with a paper towel to absorb moisture, keeping it away from the berries.
After slicing hard cheese, the cheese may start to dry out and crumble. To prevent this, rub butter across the cut parts to help the cheese retain moisture. Wrap in plastic wrap or place in airtight container, and store in the refrigerator.
When storing whole summer and winter squash, rub with vegetable oil, leaving just a slight shine. The oil will help prevent mold spots that could soften the skin and spoil the squash. Once the squash is prepped, store in the pantry for weeks or even months.
Water, Water Everywhere
Instead of putting whole celery, carrots and radishes in the refrigerator, prep and dice them into smaller pieces. Store them in a container with water, and place in refrigerator. This will keep the vegetables crisp and fresh for days, possibly weeks.
Related: Keeping Vegetables Fresh