We all have such good intentions when we fill our fridge full of delicious fresh produce at the start of a week, right? There are visions of all the wonderful things that will be cooked and baked. You’re finally going to experiment with that globe artichoke you’ve always wanted to try!
And then reality sets in; you’re juggling work demands, social commitments, life admin – the list goes on and you’re left staring at those beautiful fruits and veggies going limp, just longing to be used.
Then comes the inevitable guilt when you have to throw away half of the produce you purchased.
The good news? You can rescue those fruits and veggies that you just don’t have time to eat this week. You can give them a new lease on life while reducing food waste with these simple kitchen hacks! These tips will not only help your fresh produce go the distance, but will also help them retain many of their nutrients, which is what you want when you’re eating wholefoods.
- Wrap your leafy greens.
Leafy greens are delicate and can turn limp and soggy very quickly if not stored correctly. Rinse with water before wrapping in a paper towel and place in airtight storage in the fridge. Work gently to avoid damaging and bruising the leaves. Try this with mixed lettuce leaves, Asian greens (bok choy, pak choy), kale, baby spinach and chard.
- Transfer ripe fruit in the fridge.
Fresh fruit usually needs a couple of days to get perfectly ripe, after which time it can quickly start to bruise and break down. Keep a close eye on fruits such as peaches, nectarines and avocados, because these delicious little morsels are quite delicate and need to be transferred to the fridge as soon as they ripen.
- Store fruits and veggies in airtight containers or snap lock reusable bags.
Keeping fruits and veggies in airtight storage in the fridge will extend their freshness by at least 4 days, as they will retain their internal moisture and avoid oxidation. Also, airtight storage will help retain key nutrients like Vitamin C and the B Vitamins, which easily degrade when exposed to air.
Store batches in snaplock bags in the freezer. Frozen fruit and veggies can retain the same nutrients as fresh, and make easy additions to stocks, soups, casseroles and curries. Ensure you chop, then blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes followed by running under cold water to stop the cooking process before freezing. This will ensure your veggies stay crisp and won’t get ‘freezer burn’ which is when foods are exposed to air, and the moisture evaporates. Veggies that don’t freeze so well are potatoes, eggplant, sprouts, and lettuce, but other veg like carrots, celery, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, and spinach all freeze beautifully!
You can also freeze your fresh herbs – I know, what a wild idea! But this one is an incredible kitchen hack that will change your life. Chop up your fresh herbs and pack into ice cube trays, before pouring over either white wine/oil/water. Voila! No more wasted herbs.
- Separate gaseous foods
Foods such as garlic, potatoes, onion, bananas and apples emit a gas (called ethylene) that actually speeds up the ripening of other fruits and veggies. Avoid storing these foods together in the pantry. Instead, store them in separate airtight containers or bags and pop them in the fridge for maximum freshness. An added bonus is that onion, when stored in the fridge, won’t make you cry when you’re cutting it!
Want to know how to tell if your garlic is still fresh? Press on the clove, and if ‘bounces’ under your touch, unfortunately it no longer has the nutritional properties that make it such an amazing all-rounder for immunity and digestive health. Opt for the cloves that are firm to touch.
Now that you have 5 simple ways to keep your fruits and veggies fresh and full of nutrients for longer, you can get back to the other 100 things on your to-do list.
Cailie Ford is a Clinical Nutritionist (BHSc) with a passion for empowering individuals and groups to prioritise health & wellness to open up the potential to thrive in life – doing more, achieving more through optimal body and mind performance.