Store It Right
Proper storage will save you lots of money, ensure food safety and keep foods tasting great. Follow these tips for keeping fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits longer.
In The Refrigerator:
- The coldest part of your refrigerator is the lowest—the crisper drawer. Most vegetables should be stored there, usually in plastic bags.
- Don’t wash vegetables before refrigerating them. Water can remove that natural protective layer that keeps vegetables fresh.
- Don’t refrigerate garlic, shallots, whole uncut winter squash or potatoes. Instead store in a cool, dry place with minimal light.
- Leafy vegetables with stems intact, the way arugula is often sold, should be stored with wet paper towels wrapped around the stems, in plastic bags or wrap.
- Whole heads of lettuce will generally keep longer than loose leafy greens.
- Tomatoes or avocados should be ripened on your kitchen counter until they are very ripe, and then eaten as soon as possible.
- Peppers and mushrooms last longer in paper bags in the crisper.
- Since fruit is often sold unripe, it is often good to let fruit ripen at room temperature. You can speed up the ripening process by placing the fruit in a brown paper bag, turning the bag every day. Adding an apple to the bag will further hasten ripening.
- Bananas can be stored at room temperature until very ripe. Then the banana should be refrigerated. The skin will turn black, but the banana itself will be fine for a few days.
- Most ripe fruits should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or a sealed container.
In The Freezer:
- Freezing works well for many foods, but the following don’t freeze well: soft cheeses, cooked pasta, fried foods, hard-boiled eggs, garlic, mayonnaise and milk-based sauces.
- Foods must be stored in tightly sealed containers or wrapping.
- Be sure to write the date that you froze any food on the wrapping or on freezer tape.
- To freeze raw vegetables, plunge briefly into boiling water to set the color, then quickly plunge them into ice water to stop cooking. Dry the vegetables well, pack them in freezer bags, squeeze out as much air as you can, and seal tightly.
- Herbs (other than basil) freeze well, but they should then be used as ingredients in a recipe, not as a garnish.
- To freeze herbs, wash them, pat or spin them dry and arrange them on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Freeze them, then transfer them into labeled, sealed containers. You can use the herbs straight out of the freezer.
Get the Most from Bulk Bins
Buying food from bulk bins can mean big savings. Food sold in bulk is often cheaper than food sold in small portions, especially if you go for grains, rice, dried beans, nuts, seeds and pasta. You can also buy exactly the portion you need, which is perfect when you only want a little of something, like a few tablespoons of pine nuts to make pesto or a new grain you want to try. When stored in a cool, dry place, most grains can last up to a year. In the freezer, they can last up to two years. Whole grains can last up to a year. In the freezer, they can last up to two years. Whole grains containing oil can become rancid and must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer and will last for up to six months. These grains include barley, brown rice, bulgur, kasha, whole-grain cornmeal, wheat germ and whole-wheat flour.