Recipes To Make Your Produce Last Longer
More than ever during these social distancing times, the daily pop to the shops is becoming increasingly unattractive. Supermarkets have seen an increase in the weekly big supermarket shop, a consumer habit that has been out of style now for nearly a decade. Shopping weekly rather than daily not only saves you from spending all your life queuing, but also if managed well, can make your diet healthier and reduce food waste. An important part of this new trend is figuring out how to keep your produce staying fresh for as long as possible or until you want to eat it. Here are a few tips on how to look after those ingredients that have seen better days.
The main reason most home cooks avoid using fresh herbs in their recipes is because herbs are very difficult to stay fresh unless you have a plant growing. Shop bought herbs have a Goldilocks temperament of thriving only if the conditions are perfect. To achieve these conditions in storage there are two options: you can wrap them in a kitchen towel and keep them in air tight bags in the fridge, or leave them in a jar of water in the fridge.
Before they go bad: If you notice they are starting to wilt, the easiest recipe is to blitz up in the blender with some olive oil and freeze them to use as extra seasoning in stews soups or freshen up salad dressing.
There are a handful amount of fruits that emit ethylene gas to ripen themselves, bananas are one of them. If you've bought a huge bunch of bananas and are worried about them going brown before you're ready to eat them, simply wrap the stems tightly in beeswax food wraps. This helps reduce the amount of ethylene gas emitted, thus slowing the ripening process of it and any other fruits stored with it.
Before they go bad: If you missed this tip, jump on the banana bread trend, the tastiest loaf is made with the softest bananas. As the fruits ripen, their starch is broken down into sugar, making them a great natural sweetener for banana bread or pancakes.
Too many berries going soggy? Fresh berries have two major enemies: mould and moisture. The easiest hack to kill bacteria is washing the berries in a quick vinegar and water bath. This method won't cure very mouldy berries so be sure to discard them first. After you've washed all traces of the vinegar off with water, dry them and store in a clean container lined with paper towels.
Before they go bad: Luckily there are loads of recipes you can try that use up leftover berries. Louisa Foti of Eat your Veg's Berry and Banana yo pops, Janice Patti of Farmgirl's kitchen's iced Cranachan, and Chocolette of Chocolate Log Blog's Raspberry and white chocolate friands are some of our favourites.
Like herbs, Lettuces want to moist and dry all at once. If you wash, dry and store in an airtight bag with a damp paper towel, they should stay fresh for a couple of days. Alternatively, buying a lettuce plant might be a better option.
The dark green veggies including kale, swiss chard, spinach and spring greens follow the same procedure as the lettuce. Alternatively you could de-stem and dry them before freezing them. Frozen leafy greens are perfect for smoothies as they help to thicken the consistency and don't overpower the taste.
To keep mushrooms meaty and fresh for as long as possible, it is best that they are stored in an airtight bag or brown paper bag. Opting for a paper bag allows the vegetable to breathe and for moisture to escape.
Before they go bad: Mushrooms along with artichokes, courgettes and tomatoes are great for making confit - an age old preservation technique which submerges the less sturdy veggies in olive oil - perfect to be served with fresh bread (no doubt sourdough if you've already jumped on that trend) as an antipasto spread.
By Editor Harriet Russell