Where should you keep your tomatoes? And 14 other food storage hacks to save money (and the planet)
Tessa Clarke is co-founder of food-sharing app Olio,which helps people offer surplus food to their local community for free, instead of binning it. In this guest blog, Tessa shares her top tips on how to minimise food waste.
For more tips on making food go further, see our How to get free (or cheap) food guide, our 29 supermarket shopping tips and remember, don't automatically throw away food beyond its best-before date.
The average UK family throws away £730 of food that could've been eaten each year, while collectively we in our homes throw away 4.4 million potatoes, 2.7 million carrots and 1.2 million tomatoes every single day.
Here are my top food-storage tips to avoid waste, cut costs and, hopefully, help save the planet:
- TOMATOES. Should be stored in a bowl on the worktop rather than in the fridge as they tend to go 'mealy' in the fridge.
- APPLES. Work well in a fruit bowl, but any bruised apples should be quickly removed as they give off more ethylene – it really is true that "one bad apple spoils the bunch".
- BANANAS. These also give off ethylene which accelerates their ripening. To slow this down, simply pop a beeswax wrap or tin foil hat on the top of a bunch to give them a couple of extra days.
- BREAD. To make your bread last longer, buy whole loaves rather than sliced, and wrap them in reusable cotton bags or plastic and store in an airtight container on the worktop. Perhaps the most effective way to store bread though is in the freezer, so you can just pull out a slice or two whenever you need it.
- CAKE. Keep your cakes moist by storing them with a slice of bread on top of them; the bread will dry out (and can be used for breadcrumbs) but the cake will stay lovely and moist.
- WINE. Freeze the ends of a bottle of wine in jam jars then pull one out whenever you're cooking a risotto, or making a stew or gravy.
- AVOCADO. Pop a slice of onion in a plastic container with an opened avocado and it will prevent the avocado from going brown. Alternatively, rub the open side of the avocado with lemon juice. For your guacamole, simply spray it with a light layer of lukewarm water to prevent the air making contact and so keeping it fresh for longer.
- HERBS. Should be stored like flowers, so in a jar of water on your worktop. Another option is to store them in plastic container with a damp cloth or piece of kitchen towel in the fridge. Or if you want them to last even longer you can chop and freeze them in an ice-cube tray in oil or water (depending on whether you want to use them for a stir fry or stew), or freeze them on a tray before bagging up for later.
- DAIRY. Store this at the back of the fridge where it's coldest to give maximum shelf life, not the door. Milk and cream can both be frozen, although make sure to freeze the bottles three-quarters full to allow for expansion.
- BERRIES. Give them a quick rinse in a water and vinegar solution (one part vinegar to 10 parts water) then pat them super dry and store in the fridge to stop them going mouldy so quickly.
- CELERY. Wrap in tin foil and store in the fridge to keep it nice and crisp.
- LEMONS. Lemons keep well at room temperature for about a week. However, pop them into a sealed plastic bag or container in the fridge and they'll last four times longer than when kept at room temperature.
- HONEY. When stored in a sealed glass jar in a cool, dark place, honey can last forever. However, if it does crystallise, just pop the jar in some warm water and it will liquefy again, just like magic.
- EAT ME. It can work wonders by having an 'eat me' shelf in your fridge so you know everything there needs to be eaten soon before it goes off.
- GIVE IT UP. If you know you're not going to eat something in time, then why not make a neighbour's day by giving it away on the Olio app instead? Half of all food added is requested in less than 30 minutes.
Do you agree? How do you store your food? Tell us on the MSE Forum.