Stretch Your Food Budget by Making Food Last Longer
In a time when many families need to make their food budget stretch as far as possible, it’s disheartening to have to throw away spoiled food. While all fresh foods have a natural shelf life, home economists offer these tips and tricks to help extend the life of perishables.
- Check Before Storing - A single bruised or overripe strawberry in a package can release enough ethylene gas to spoil the whole package before its time. Before refrigerating produce, check for and discard any on the verge of spoiling.
- Keep Cheese Longer - Apply a thin layer of butter to the exposed side of a chunk of cheese, then wrap the block in waxed paper and place it in a plastic bag.
- Puncture Plastic Bags - Unless you are sealing it in an airtight bag, poke a few holes in the plastic bags of fresh veggies you bring home before refrigerating. Otherwise, they’ll trap moisture that causes produce to break down faster.
- Use the Freezer - Frozen banana pops...yum! Preserve your unused bananas for a delicious snack. Actually, freezing works well for most fruits and vegetables, as long as they are consumed within 8-12 months.
- Shrink-Wrap Bananas - If you prefer your bananas unfrozen, wrap a piece of plastic wrap around the crown of your bunch of bananas. This will curb the release of ethylene gas and keep them from ripening too fast.
- Avoid Sunlight - Unless you plan to eat them right away, store pears and melons (except watermelon, which should be refrigerated) on a countertop away from direct sunlight that will speed up the ripening process.
- Wrap Greens in Foil - Surprisingly, when wrapped in foil, broccoli, lettuce and celery will last in the fridge for a month or more.
- Use Paper Bags for Mushrooms - Plastic bags are a haven for moisture. They cause mushrooms to mildew, so store them in paper bags.
- About Those Tomatoes - If the stem was removed before purchase, store the tomatoes upside down so air won’t seep into the small opening, which expedites ripening. Tomatoes ripen quickly and should be eaten soon after purchase. For freshest taste, keep unripe tomatoes outside the refrigerator. When they are fully ripe, it’s okay to refrigerate them.
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