Sunday, December 28, 2008

Less waste = savings...

Storing produce correctly and keeping it fresh will help save money. After all, nothing is a bargain if it ends up in the trash. According to Sparkpeople, a recent study at the University of Arizona showed that the average family throws away 470 pounds of food a year! Yikes!

Your first good practice with fresh fruits and vegetables starts at the grocery store. Tossing them into your cart, allowing a store clerk to throw them in to a grocery bag, or dumping them in the trunk allowing them to roll around during the drive home will have them bruised before you even get them through the door. Fruits and veggies should be handled carefully and gently!

Once you manage to get them home in one piece, a good rule of thumb is to store fruits and vegetables in different drawers. While there are exceptions to every rule, generally, fruit produces higher levels of ethylene, (an odorless, harmless gas which can cause some produce items to ripen or spoil quicker), and vegetables are more likely to be damaged by that gas, so storing them in separate drawers goes a long way to preserving your produce!

Also, removing produce from bags can help it last longer, or at least poke some holes in the bags to let the air circulate better.

Other things you can do to extend the life of some of your fresh produce:

Fresh Herbs: Cut off the end of the stems and place upright in a cup of water in your refrigerator. Cover loosely with a perforated bag.

Bananas: Break the bunch apart to store. They spoil in bunches. Also, store away from other fruits and veggies.

Tomatoes: These last longer stored on the counter stem side down! In the refrigerator they loose texture AND flavor.

Apples: Store in a bowl on the counter away from heat and sunlight.

Lettuce and other leafy greens: Either remove from bags and place in the veggie drawer, or perforate bags to keep it fresher. (Tip: If your lettuce seems a little wilted, soak in iced water to revive it... however, this probably won't work if it is completely dead ;))

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