A lot of us want to save money on groceries but it doesn’t help when we’re throwing half the contents of the fridge in the trash every day because they’ve gone bad. The good news is that there are some small little habits you can adopt to make food preservation easy so you can actually eat what you buy.
Check out my top ten go-to food preservation tips that I’ve learned from years in the kitchen.
Food Preservation 101
1.Keep Bananas Fresh
Keep bananas fresher by separating them and wrapping the stems in plastic wrap. Bananas release ethylene gas, which speed up the enzymatic process of ripening. Wrapping the stems prevent the gas from escaping and separating them from their buddies helps prevent one’s gas situation from impacting its neighbours. I love bananas so this is one of my go to food preservation tips.
2.Freeze Excess Herbs
Whether you have a garden or bought a bunch of herbs for a recipe that only called for a tablespoon, you can chop or puree any excess with a touch of olive oil and freeze the mixture in ice cube trays. Once frozen, I like to transfer them to a plastic resealable bag and use them for sauces, marinades and soups.
3.Make Game-Day Guacamole Last
When I’m having a party, I like to make the food ahead of time, but guacamole always develops an unpleasant brown layer on top. Not cool, Guac. Not. Cool. This is a classic enzymatic reaction stimulated by air that can be prevented by antioxidants like vitamin C in citrus, water or oil. I find the best way to stop the browning without altering the flavour of your dip is to spritz the surface with vegetable oil from an oil atomizer, and place a sheet of plastic wrap right onto the surface to eliminate any air.
4.Keep Fruit & Veggies Longer
Fruit start to rot faster thanks to the release of ethylene gas, which is responsible for the ripening process. I love the Frigidaire’s PureAir® Freshness Booster™ Starter Kit because you just adhere it to your crisper wall and it removes any excess ethylene gas to slow down the ripening process. It’s a big money saver and helps me actually eat my veggies! Love this food preservation tool!
5.Stop a Rot Cascade
Don’t let one rotten apple spoil the whole bunch. If one fruit or vegetable gets bruised and starts to rot, it will only speed up the ripening and rotting of your other nearby produce through the release of ethylene gas. Keep an eye on all of your fruits and veggies and get rid of any bad looking pieces ASAP.
6.Revive Stale Bread
You’re going to think I’m crazy, but if you put water on bread or baked goods like muffins, you can help reverse their staling. Simply run your baked goods under water until they’re moist but not soaked, wrap them in foil, and bake them for 10 minutes at 300 F. Ta da – fresh bread!
7.Perk Up Wilted Greens!
Lettuce is mainly water and when water begins to evaporate and the cells that hold that moisture start to shrink, you end up with droopy wilted leaves. To give your greens new life, simply cut off any brown bits, and leave the leaves in cold ice water for 20-60 minutes, then dry thoroughly before using. The cells will soak back up any lost moisture and the leaves will taste crisp and perky again.
8.Smooth Out Crystalized Honey
They say honey lasts forever, but it does tend to crystalize and harden in the cupboard over time. Simply pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds until it becomes fluid and clear again and voila- it’s ready for morning oats!
9.Stop Moldy Berries
I know this sounds kind of gross, but if you mix together a bath of 1 part vinegar, and 3 parts water, swirl your berries in it, drain, rinse well and dry them off, you’ll find your berries will last much longer because the vinegar (acid) helps ward off any mold and bacteria. Just be sure to rinse them well (so they don’t taste sour) and dry them thoroughly (because bacteria love moisture).
10.Make Salad Ahead with Paper towel
I like to pack my lunch to night before, but cut salad often gets wilty before lunch the next day. Store any pre-cut salads (or leftovers) with a piece of paper towel over top to help absorb excess moisture that makes them get soggy faster.
What are some of your go-to food hacks for food preservation? What has helped you save food and money in the kitchen? Leave us a comment below, we would love to hear what you’ve discovered works!
Disclaimer: This post was developed in paid partnership with Frigidaire, however, as always, all opinions are genuine.
Updated on March 5th, 2016
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuber, Blogger, award winning cookbook author, media coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.