You spend so much time picking out the perfect head of lettuce and combing the produce area for green bananas. Time gets away from you and before you know, that head of lettuce has become a slimy mess and the once-perfect green bananas have turned brown and mushy.
It’s upsetting when good produce goes bad, but it happens more often than you may think. In fact, the average American wastes 20 pounds of food a month. You invest time and money into these purchases and it seems like they don’t last very long. You’re finally ready to use your fruits and vegetables and they’re no longer fresh and edible. It happens, and it’s part of life, but luckily, there are some things you can to extend the life of your produce so you’re not wasting time, money and food. Read on for some neat tricks to prevent spoilage – at least for a little bit. Remember, no food lasts forever!
If you’re constantly having to toss out fresh produce that’s gone bad, frozen food may be a good choice. Frozen fruits and veggies are picked at the peak of freshness, so once they thaw out, they taste great. They’re also packed with nutrition and are sometimes even cheaper than buying fresh. You can keep them in your freezer for many months, so you can save them for a special dish.
Keep celery in water.
If you’re bringing a bag of celery home from the store and plopping it into the refrigerator, you’re doing it all wrong. To keep it fresh longer, cut off part of the bottom and place it in a pitcher or jar filled with water. You can then put it in the refrigerator to keep it crispy for longer.
Treat herbs like flowers.
Herbs such as parsley, basil, and cilantro stay fresh by keeping their stems wet. So treat them like you would your favorite flowers. Grab a vase, fill it with water and add the herbs. Keep the stems trimmed and change the water often, and they’ll last much longer than they would hanging out in the refrigerator.
SEE MORE: How to Get the Most Value Out of Fresh Herbs
Chop those carrot tops.
The tops of the carrots can cause carrots to go limp. Keep them fresh by cutting off the tops before storing them.
Store potatoes properly.
It can be so frustrating when you’re ready to make French fries from your potatoes and they’re full of eyes and wrinkly. Keep them fresh longer by keeping them in an area that’s cool and dry. A closet or pantry works well. Another tip: Keep potatoes away from onions. Onions release gas that can cause potatoes to spoil quickly. Bonus tip: Store onions with apples and this will prevent the potatoes from sprouting.
Keep onions fresh for many months.
Speaking of onions, you can keep them fresh for as long as eight months by storing them in pantyhose. If you have a pair you no longer use, pop some onions in there. Just make sure to keep each one separate – you can easily do that by tying a knot between each one.
SEE MORE: What to Buy and What Not to Buy at the Farmers Market
Prevent mold from growing on berries.
Berries will get moldy if they’re not eaten quickly. Even if you don’t see any mold, you can delay its appearance by dousing the berries in vinegar. Make sure to leave the vinegar on – you won’t taste it. Dry them thoroughly and then store them in a paper bag. Place them in the fridge and they can expect to last an extra week or so.
Keep bread away from moisture.
Moisture causes bread to get moldy quickly, so keep it in a dry place instead. If you won’t use it within several days, place it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it.
Store mushrooms properly.
The plastic containers that hold your mushrooms are the perfect breeding ground for slime. Keep your mushrooms looking and feeling fresh by taking them out of the container and placing them in a paper bag. The bag will absorb any moisture.
Wrap greens in paper towels.
Get rid of the plastic that comes with your lettuce and other veggies and wrap your food in paper towels instead. Paper towels absorb moisture and prevent your greens from getting soggy.
SEE MORE: 12 Great Ways to Get the Most Use Out of Rinds and Peels
Keep avocados green.
If you’ve already cut into an avocado, keep it from turning brown by keeping the pit in. Put some olive oil or lemon juice on it and cover with plastic wrap. Keep it in the fridge and this should keep your avocados fresh for a few extra days.
Get rid of that one bad apple.
Isn’t there a saying along the lines of “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch?” This is a true statement. If you have a bag of apples and see a rotten one, get rid of it as soon as you can. If you keep it with the others, you’ll soon have an entire bag of bad apples. Apparently the rottenness is contagious, so be quick to remove the offending apple!
Wrap the banana crown.
If you bought a bunch of bananas, keep them fresh for a few extra days by placing plastic wrap around the crown (the part that keeps them all together. This will give you some extra time so you can finish eating them.
Keep cheese from drying out.
Always notice how you cut into a block of cheese and the cut side seems to dry up and get crusty? You can keep it nice and smooth by rubbing it with butter. This will prevent the cut side from drying out.
SEE MORE: 16 Interesting Kitchen Hacks You'll Wish You Knew Sooner
Don’t stack your tomatoes.
Keep your tomatoes out of the fridge. Instead, place them on your counter, away from the sun. Keep them with the stem side up and placed in a single layer. Don’t stack them or place them in bags.
You could also try a new system of shopping, in which you only buy food that you will use that week. Create a meal plan and schedule your dinners for the week. You’ll also be budgeting, which means you could end up saving money as well. It’s a win-win!
Preventing produce waste is not only good for your pocketbook, but for the environment as well. Try utilizing some of the tips above to keep your fruits and veggies fresher, for a longer period of time.