8 Hacks for Fresher, Longer Food Storage
Many of us are feeling the pinch. While a few hacks won’t eliminate the financial challenges many are facing, even little things like making food fresher for longer can help. Small tips and tricks can increase food storage life by days or even weeks. With the right measures, storage for some products can be extended for years. View eight food storage hacks below to save money and impress friends and family during the holidays.
#1 When life gives you lemons
Lemon juice is an easy home solution for extending the shelf life of several edible items. Cut-up fruits like apples and avocados can last longer with the citric acid from lemon or lime juice. Multiple studies demonstrate how citric acid can slow spoilage and increase storage times. In addition to extending short-term storage, lemon juice can also be used for canning tomatoes, salsa, and other consumable items for long-term storage. Even the USDA recommends using bottled lemon juice when canning.
#2 Vinegar Up
There’s nothing tastier than fresh berries, but what isn’t so tasty is the price tag that can come with them. Berries can be expensive, so to keep them mold-free for as long as possible, try rinsing berries in a water and vinegar solution. Make sure to use one part vinegar to 10 parts water. Your berries could last up to ten days by doing this nifty hack as soon as you get them home from the supermarket.
Vinegar is also used in canning water for many foods. The acidity in the vinegar helps to prevent cloudiness and discoloration. Adding two tablespoons of vinegar to three quarts of canning water can prevent water stains on jars and help maintain food color. For picking any vegetables, vinegar is the key. The high acidity prevents bacteria growth and helps soften the preserved foods. Vinegar is an excellent and inexpensive natural ingredient for food preservation.
#3 Consider vacuum sealing
If you already do a lot of freezing or bulk-purchasing to help cut costs, it might be worth adding vacuum sealing to this process. Typically used for commercial food preservation, it can be adopted on a smaller scale at home. You can buy a home-use vacuum sealer, which retails for around $80 and can handle household needs. There is a DIY method using a zip-top plastic freezer bag and a water bowl. The problem with this method is reclosable bags do not have an oxygen barrier. Though much oxygen will exit the bag with a water method, oxygen will permeate through the bag over time.
The oxygen in the freezer can lead to ice crystal formations from the moisture in the food, also known as freezer burn. The extended storage time for vacuum-sealed foods is impressive and can last up to 5 times longer. For example, cheese like parmesan, Swiss, and cheddar can remain fresh for 4-8 months, vegetables like lettuce and spinach can last for two weeks, and fruits like pears and apples last around two months when vacuum sealed.
#4 Wrap bananas in clingfilm
Wrap bananas in clingfilm to keep them fresh. The plastic wrap helps enclose ethylene gas, which bananas produce as they ripen. The clingfilm traps the gas and prevents it from speeding up the ripening process. This method can keep bananas fresh for up to five days longer than usual. Fresh bananas over a banana pudding will last longer with a layer of cling film pressed over the pudding. The layer of the film reduces oxygen exposure and extends the amount of time before the fruity topping begins to brown.
#5 Store your greens like flowers
Save money on flowers by making your veg the new centerpiece of your home. Some vegetables need water to stay fresh if they are not consumed on the day they are purchased. Try storing sliced cucumber in water to preserve it for longer. You can also keep greens like asparagus, spring onion, and celery in water. Peeled and sliced potatoes will keep from discoloring for days if stored in water.
#6 Go to the Darkside
Garlic, potatoes, butternut squash, and root vegetables like to be kept in the dark because this helps to prevent sprouting. A dry environment is best with low light and storing vegetables on brown bgs. You’ll need a separate brown bag for each vegetable. The Washington Post wrote an article about various vegetables and how to store them.
Using a dark, cool, dry place to store produce is highly recommended for many vegetables. It is why root cellars are popular and worth the money and time if possible. Another tip to keep potatoes fresh for two weeks or more is to store them with an apple. The ethylene gas given off by an apple also stops potatoes from sprouting.
Sure we know putting cold storage items in the fridge will prevent them from going bad. Leaving items such as eggs, milk, and meat at room temperature will lead to spoilage within hours. Consider the fridge for other items not traditionally found in cold storage. This works for many fruits and vegetables. If you notice an avocado beginning to ripen too soon, stick it in the fridge. Refrigeration helps keep bacteria and mold from growing and slows the ripening process for fruits and vegetables. Large cold storage facilities store fruits and vegetables until they reach the grocery store. In addition to greens and fruits, try placing bread and other powders in cold storage. The cold may take some moisture from the loaf but will slow molding.
#8 Store what you can in a sealed glass container…
… and keep it in a cool, dark place. An airtight glass jar protects honey from moisture and prevents water loss. Honey in a plastic bottle may lose its water content, which could cause fermentation. You can also submerge the container in warm water to reverse any crystallization and liquefy your honey if needed. If stored correctly, your honey could stay at its best for up to two years. Technically, it will never go bad; this will help preserve the quality and taste. Many other items can be stored in glass containers. Due to the airtight qualities, the containers keep oxygen from speeding up the spoilage process.
Simple food storage hacks can save hundreds of dollars in food waste annually. Most items mentioned require common household supplies that do not need a special purchase. The key is reducing the oxygen contact with the items. Of course, storage temperatures and light are also important factors that should be considered. If you produce a consumable product and want food storage packaging hacks, call 1-800-441-5090 or shop online at uspackagingandwrapping.com.