Smart Food Storage: Stretch the Shelf Life of Your Grocery Shop

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Did you know the average UK household throws away over £500 of food a year? That’s more than £40 per month! Get savvy with food storage and you could make big savings by stretching the shelf life of your grocery shop. Here’s how you can save £££s:

Wrap the crown of a bunch of bananas with cling film to extend their shelf life

1. Friendly and unfriendly food

Apples and potatoes are the best of friends. Store them together in a cool, dark place and the apples will help keep the potatoes from sprouting too soon. The only down side is it could affect the flavour of your apples.

Potatoes and onions may taste great together as hash browns, but when it comes to storage make sure you keep them well apart. The problem is they both release moisture and gases that cause them to spoil faster.

2. Keep your food comfortable

Storing your food at the correct temperature will massively extend its shelf life.

  • Store tomatoes at room temperature, not in the fridge. Storing tomatoes in plastic bags and in the fridge will trap ethylene which makes them ripen quicker.
  • Apples, grapes, beans, berries and ginger are much happier in the fridge.
  • Avocados, onions, kiwi, pineapples, bananas and pears are best stored at room temperature or in a cool pantry.

3. Happy herbs

Storing herbs correctly will boost their shelf life. Delicate herbs should be covered with plastic, secured with a rubber band and refrigerated to make them last as long as possible. However, oily herbs such as thyme should be tied loosely together and hung in the open air.

Another solution is to fill an ice-cube tray with olive oil, chop up some herbs such as sage, rosemary or oregano and pour a small amount into each tray. When you need them, simply place straight into the pan for herb-infused oil.

4. One bad apple

If you notice a bad or mouldy piece of fruit or veg, remove it immediately or it will affect the rest.

5. Make room for the mushrooms

Keep your mushrooms in a paper bag in the fridge. The bag will protect against dehydration and keeping them at a cold temperature will discourage bacterial growth. To make the mushrooms last longer don’t wash them before storing

6. Keep the spring in your spring onions

There are a number of ways to keep your spring onions fresh and prolong their shelf life.

One is to chop them up and keep them in a bottle in the freezer, making sure they’re completely dry first. When you need them, simply pour out and add to your stir fry – they’ll defrost in no time.

Another trick is to keep them root down in water on your windowsill. Even once you’ve chopped off the green tops, you can put the white bit (approx. 1cm) in water – leaving the stem poking out – and it will sprout and re-grow in a few days.

Alternatively, pop it into some soil in the garden, make sure it’s watered and it will re-grow fully in about a month.

7. Long-lasting berries

Fresh berries are fantastic, but they tend to go off incredibly quickly. The solution to keeping them fresh is vinegar!

Apple cider or white vinegar works best. Mix a little bit of vinegar with water to a ratio of one part vinegar to 10 parts water, give the berries a good whirl round in the mixture and then pop in the fridge. You can rinse them if you like, but the vinegar is so diluted you’re unlikely to taste it.

Strawberries normally keep for around two weeks and raspberries for a week or more.

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8. Cheesey tip

When you buy a slab of cheese it can easily dry out and become mouldy. Try buttering the cut side of your cheese to keep it moist and wrap in a paper towel or waxed paper so it can breathe. Then loosely wrap in a plastic bag or container. Store on the top shelf which is the warmest part of the fridge.

9. Know your onions

Tights and onions make the perfect combination!

Onions stored in tights will last as long as eight months. Simply cut off the legs and drop in the first onion into the foot of the first leg. Tie a knot and repeat until both legs are full. Hang them up in a cool, dark place.

When you need an onion, simply cut one off below the knot from the bottom up.

10. Long-lasting greens

Wrapping broccoli and celery in tinfoil will keep it extra crisp for 4 – 5 weeks. Simply wrap up and store in the fridge. It keeps in the moisture and means you can enjoy a lovely crisp salad or fresh broccoli with your roast.

More top tips

  • Keep fruit and veg whole until you need it.
  • If you have the space, keep milk in the main part of the fridge. When it’s stored in the door it’s warmed by the ambient air of the kitchen whenever the door is opened.
  • Keep your fridge nice and clean – bacteria can spread fast!
  • Try an ethylene gas absorber for the fridge. The little pods help absorb the gas emitted by fruit and veg to help extend their shelf life. Just £9.99 from Amazon.
  • Cut up lemon and limes into slices, put them in a freezer bag and freeze. Brilliant solution for an ice and a slice with your drink.
  • Know your ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates.
  • Check out Love Food Hate Waste for more advice on making your food last longer and go further.

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