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Zero Waste Week Ambassadors share their top tips for better food storage

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I asked our Ambassadors to share their favourite tips for better food storage. Here’s what they had to say…

Ambassadors Aaron, Sam and Helen are fans of the “Eat me first shelf” that you will know all about if you join us on Monday of Zero Waste Week 2020.

Aaron Green says: Dedicate a shelf that is easily visible the fridge to short life products such as fruit, this keeps them in sight and in mind.

and Helen McGonigal says: We place our leftovers in dishes with plates on top or on plates with a dish over it to cut down on plastic use. I also like using jars to store leftovers. Then these all go on one shelf in the fridge so that we remember to use them up as soon as we can. I often eat yesterday’s leftovers for lunch the next day. My favourite is frying up leftover mash potato and vegetables with a bit of grated cheese to make a delicious bubble and squeak.

Sam MacGregor says: As I live with four foodie housemates, we get through a lot of fresh fruit and veg. Through the midsts of group meals, irregular shopping times and midnight snacking, it’s easy to lose track of what’s left in the fridge and about to go out of date. My tip is to dedicate a small drawer/communal section inside the fridge and to stick a post it note at eye level reading “eat me first”!! This way, every time you are hungry you have an excuse to munch on something tasty and fresh – GUILT FREE – safe in the knowledge that you are preventing food waste..!

Zoe Morrison says: My favourite tip for food storage is to revive wilted celery by keeping it in a glass of water on the counter. Make sure you change the water regularly. Also keep apples and satsumas in the fridge rather than in a fruit bowl as they will last a lot longer that way.

John Adams from @DadblogUK says this: Keep a small fridge or freezer. We used to have a big American style fridge freezer but this encouraged us to both buy too much and batch cook too much food. When we moved house, we moved into a house with a small fridge and small freezer. Much less food gets wasted as we can only buy and store what we need.

Dhiran Chauhan says: My favourite tip is to store food is to use glass preserving jars. They are great for storing lentils, cereals, spices, dry herbs and nuts. You can see the actual contents (humans primarily rely on visuals to make a judgement), quantity of contents left, study and most importantly they do not hold on the contents odour after you wash them out. This is great for reuse for differing items.

Dhiran’s Dry Goods Shelves

Liz Pearson Mann says: I’m thinking about traditional and naturally preserved food at the moment, and storing more food outside of a fridge or freezer. So, my tip for better storage is for hard cheese (like a mature cheddar). It’s best stored out of the fridge, for better taste. I do sometimes keep cheese under a ceramic cheese bell in the pantry under the stairs, but for longer storage, I’m trying this:

Wipe the cut edges of the cheese with white vinegar and leave to dry
Then wrap the cheese in a piece of muslin or cheesecloth that has been soaked in white vinegar, and wrung until just damp
Place the wrapped cheese on a piece of cheese paper, baking paper or wax paper, wrap and tape (or tie with string)
Keep in a cool, dark place
Re-wipe with vinegar every now and then, and if any mould develops, cut off with a knife.
I’ve seen that cheese can be kept for months like this, but I’ve not tried it, so can’t vouch for that because I’ve eaten it within a few weeks.

Another great tip from Liz is this: A good way to store root veg is to keep it in a shady spot in a box of damp sand or soil. Liz said she has lots of beetroot from her allotment and was looking for the best way to store until she has time to either process it or eat it. I discovered this too, a few years ago, when I’d grown a lot of carrots. We dug them up as they were a good size and then (shame it was after I’d dug them up!) I googled how best to store them and it seemed the advice was to leave them in the ground. Uhh! So I thought, what would be the nearest thing? I had some old crates in my garage, so I layered them up with rows of carrots – making sure they weren’t touching – then covered the layer in soil and added another layer. I did two layers per crate and three crates. These carrots lasted me six months with no casualties. And when I say, lasted six months, I mean we had eaten them all within six months.

 

Laura Tweedale says: As a mother to a one year old and a four year old, batch cooking is a saviour, but not when it comes to storing leftovers. Often we can be left with odd portion sizes, too much for a toddler, but not enough for a child – a random spoonful left in the pan. If I can easily bulk the meal out with extra ingredients before storing, I will. Otherwise they get popped in the freezer alongside other similar portions and defrosted in one batch to make a meal for the whole family. Sometimes that one spoonful can be the difference between a filling meal or having to raid the snacks drawer once the children are in bed.

Frankie Jacklin says: Store bread in a linen bread bag, close tightly, at room temperature to keep it fresh and stop it going mouldy. The bag will help to keep the bread in the dark whilst still being breathable. If the bread is a little hard sprinkle with water and pop it in the oven to warm it up and revivie it.

Frankie’s tip reminds me of this:

When I make cricket tea (oh to be able to that again!) I always cover the plates of sandwiches with a linen tea-towel as this keeps them nice and fresh without them starting to sweat and go soggy, like the do when film-wrapped. This isn’t really as garage tip, but I also find it saves lots of food waste when you cut the sandwiches into quarters or rolls into half as people then take less and eat it all – because most people like to have a few different sandwiches. Just thought I’d mention it here, while I think about it!

Ander Zabala says: Storing carrots, or other root vegetables in a glass with water inside the fridge, makes them last even longer. Sometimes if no space in the fridge even on the kitchen counter my herbs last long and it brings a bit of greenery to the kitchen.

Yen-Van Tran says: Meal planning is an easy way to gauge how much food you need to purchase and use up. You can freeze certain foods to save for future use, but eat the rest. You can also stock up on staple foods, and the foods you know you and your family tend to consume frequently. You can also make it a habit to finish the left over foods before going out to buy more groceries.

To me, that last bit is key! Eat what you have in your fridge before you buy more. 

Katie Desborough says: Keep a few spare reusable jars and containers around, to pop open packets into, so they stay fresh longer.

Ann Storr says: Store bread in the freezer and take it out only as and when you need. It’s amazing how much you’ll save. And plan your meals, leaving a white space or two to make sure you don’t end up in a vortex of leftovers. Ann has a  shopping and meal planner on her website www.storrcupboard.com  and if you come back tomorrow to Zero Waste Week, we’ll be talking about this very thing.

Chris Wilkie says: Onions and potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark place but not in the fridge. Store them separately as they give off gases and moisture that make the other go off more rapidly.

Rachelle Strauss‘ tip s to check your fridge temperature. Inspired by Zero Waste Week subscriber, Linda, Rachelle did some experiment in her fridge. She used a fridge thermometer to check the different areas and found there was a significant difference. Her fridge is definitely colder at the bottom near the back than at the at the top or in the door. Why not check our your own fridge to see what’s going on.

And on this same subject…

Marcus Gover says: Did you know that only half of our fridges are set at the right temperature – 5 degrees Celsius or below? Enter your fridge make and model at https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/article/chill-fridge-out to make sure yours is on the right setting

Claire Carter says: Add half a cm of olive oil to the top of an opened jar of pesto. This forms a seal and helps it last longer. Store in the fridge.

Claire also sent me this photo to show how she makes her bananas last longer. Claire says: Wrap the tips of bananas individually in foil to slow down the ripening process. Remember you can re use the foil & also recycle it.

And here’s a final one from Claire: Stand broccoli in a cup of water to stop it going limp.

Store your broccoli in a cup of water to stop it going limp.

Over to our readers now! Share you tips in the comments below or on social media.

 

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Anna Pitt

Anna Pitt

2 Comments

  1. Avatar ann on September 9, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Use square or rectangular containers, not bags, in the freezer. They pack more efficiently. (If you don’t get take-away meals beg the containers from people who do.

  2. Avatar Suella Postles on September 9, 2020 at 9:23 am

    i stand celery in a jar of water in my North East facing kitchen windowsill to keep it fresh and growing. I’ll use the leaves differently than the stalks sometimes, so cut the short left stems an then put them in a sepearate jar.. Next year I am going to try to grow celery so will make sure I dehydrate th e leaves of a few to sue when I need just a hint of celery. I could do the same with celeriac I understand and worth trying dehydration with Hamburg parsley leaves.

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