1. Washing produce before putting it into the fridge does more harm than good
Washing fresh produce before eating it is necessary to protect you from contaminants and germs, but when it comes to the best way to store food with longevity in mind, it's best to avoid washing foods before putting them in the fridge. This is because washing fruit and vegetables will actually make them go bad more quickly, so it's better to simply wash the produce right before using them in a recipe or eating.
If you absolutely must wash something before putting it in the fridge for some reason, you must also dry the food out completely with a clean towel before storing it in the fridge.
2. To preserve herbs for a longer time, put them in water as you would with flowers
Fresh herbs are an excellent addition to any meal, and a healthy one, too! But storing them can be a hassle, and you might feel bad for not being able to use them up completely. To extend the storage time of herbs, the first thing to keep in mind is the type of herb. Sturdier herbs like rosemary and thyme can easily be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, provided you first roll them in a paper towel to prevent any unnecessary moisture from affecting the leaves of the herb.
More fragile herbs, on the other hand, such as parsley, coriander, and basil require a different approach. To extend the shelf life of these herbs, put them in a glass full of water (or simply reuse an old jar) and cover with plastic wrap. This way, you'll be able to keep using these herbs for up to 2 weeks, too.
As it is with vegetables and fruit, it's a must not to wash herbs before storing them. Instead, take only the amount you'll be using in a meal and wash it right before using in food, reserving the rest (unwashed) for later.
3. Freeze meat, fish, and poultry
Don't be afraid to freeze meat, fish, and poultry, as these foods maintain their freshness and nutritional content after freezing. In fact, you can extend the shelf life of these products by months if you freeze them. Poultry can be kept in the freezer up to 9 months, fish can be frozen for 6-9 months even if bought fresh, and red meat can be stored up to 12 months. You can also freeze cured and processed meat and fish, such as sausages, smoked salmon, and bacon. So, if you're not planning on using the meat in the next few days, freezing it is best.
Do keep in mind, however, that you must carefully wrap the meat or fish in several layers of plastic wrap if you haven't purchased it in a sealed container because it can get freezer burn otherwise. To defrost the meat or fish without it going tough, opt for slow unfreezing in the fridge overnight or even longer, and don't just drop the frozen meat in hot water or defrost in the microwave.
4. Use lemon juice to keep fruit and vegetables fresh
We don't always want to use up an entire fruit or vegetable at once, and in cases like these, the other half will generally start spoiling faster and become oxidized (it starts browning). Eating a brown apple and avocado can be less appetizing and can end up in food waste, as one will often start picking at the food and scraping off the brown bits.
Luckily there is a solution - just a splash of lemon juice. Before putting the avocado, apple, or other fruit away in the fridge, apply some lemon juice on it to prevent oxidation, so that you can enjoy it fully the following day!
5. Never store cheese in plastic
Are you wondering why the cheese you buy keeps spoiling so fast? If you store it in plastic or tin foil, you just found the culprit - the wrapping itself. Not only will these packaging choices transfer a cheesy smell to all the foods you store nearby, they will also shorten the shelf life of the cheese itself.
Instead, always store cheese in cheese paper, a double-sided paper that seals the cheese and prevents it from going bad at the same time. In a pinch, you can also use parchment paper or wax paper to store cheese, but these may not be able to seal away the smell, so make sure not to store fruit and veggies near more pungent cheese varieties wrapped this way.
6. Extend the life of ginger with this tip
Does the fresh ginger you buy always turn dry or hollow after just a few days? This is a common issue, one that might discourage you from using this powerful super-root in your diet. Luckily, we have a solution. To extend the shelf life of fresh ginger, put an unpeeled piece of the root in a resealable bag, like a Ziploc, make sure to get all the air out, and then seal it until the next use. Repeat this procedure every time and you'll be able to store ginger for a couple of months.
You can also use this method with peeled ginger, but it won't last as long. It's also very important to dry the root by pat-drying with a kitchen towel or paper towel before sealing to extend the freshness of the root even further.
7. Stop storing bread in the fridge
Bread is one of the trickiest foods to store, as it can become stale or harden quite fast if not stored properly. Chefs say that one of the most common bread storage mistakes is keeping bread in the fridge because doing so will make it turn stale faster. Instead, experts point out that it's best to keep bread in a bread box, or wrapped in a cloth or kitchen towel on the kitchen counter if you don't have a bread box.
You can also freeze bread, which will further extend its shelf life to up to 2-3 months, but this method works best with sliced bread, buns, or pita bread, because having to defrost a loaf of bread and then put it back in the freezer several times will ultimately ruin its texture.
8. The best place to store mushrooms is in the fridge
Mushrooms thrive in a cool and dark environment, so it makes perfect sense that the best way to store mushrooms is in a paper bag in the fridge. Since most mushrooms are sold by weight or in plastic packages, it's best to take them out of the plastic bag before storing them in the fridge, and it will also be beneficial to pat-dry the mushrooms with a paper towel or kitchen towel before putting them in a paper bag.
No need to wash mushrooms before use, as this will alter their texture and make them spoil faster. Clean the mushrooms by peeling and scraping off any pieces of dirt right before cooking.
9. Berries should only be washed right before use
Berries are the most susceptible to water damage, so wash them only before eating or using in a recipe. When washing berries, you also must be especially gentle and soak them in a bowl of water and carefully transfer them to a colander to remove the water. Washing berries, especially raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, by rinsing under a faucet is ill-advised, as these fragile berries can be crushed by the water stream.
10. Depending on the ripeness of an avocado, you should store it differently
The storage of avocados is a whole science, it seems, and any misstep results in unfortunate food waste. Unripe avocados should never be stored in the fridge, as they will not ripen properly that way, so keep them on the countertop until they're just about soft enough and only then transfer to the fridge. Ripe avocados, on the other hand, are best kept refrigerated, or else they can darken inside very fast.
Lastly, if you have half an avocado left, make sure to store the half with the pit intact, as the pit will protect the flesh of the avocado from browning. Storing avocado halves dry and refrigerated in a food container ensures their freshness for longer.
11. Certain fruit and vegetables should be stored separately
While most fruit and vegetables can be safely stored alongside one another, there are those few foods that can spoil more quickly if kept together. These are gaseous fruit and vegetables, such as bananas, apples, and avocados, which let out ethylene gas that can make other surrounding produce ripen (and spoil) much faster. For this reason, you should always store these foods separately, unless you want some fruit to ripen faster, of course, in which case you can absolutely keep them together. Other fruit and veggies that produce ethylene include:
- Peaches and nectarines
- Ripe tomatoes, etc.
Other vegetables, such as citrus fruit, potatoes, carrots, and broccoli, can be safely stored next to each other.