When we get home from the grocery store, the last thing we want is for our hard-earned cash to go to waste on food that goes bad. Not only is it super frustrating — it’s also a waste of money and a strain on the environment. Sure, some foods like olives, almond butter and olive oil are shelf stable (you can store them unrefrigerated for a long period of time) — but unfortunately, not all foods are. Here are our top 10 tips to help our favorite finicky foods stay fresh.
1. Keep lettuce crisp with paper towels
Moisture in the fridge will cause lettuce to wilt and spoil more quickly. To keep lettuce crisp, use paper towels to combat moisture! Wrap a head of lettuce in a paper towel and then place in an air-tight bag. If you want to wash lettuce in advance, make sure to separate the leaves and dry the stems completely before returning to the fridge. Lettuce already started to wilt? Give it new life by letting it soak in an ice water bath for a few minutes.
Pro tip: This technique will also work for rough greens like kale, collard greens and swiss chard.
2. Use plastic wrap to help keep bananas yellow
If you bought perfectly ripe bananas, keep them from browning too quickly by wrapping the tops tightly in plastic wrap. Bananas emit ethylene gas which speeds up the ripening process. By wrapping the tops (where the gas is mostly emitted), your bananas will ripen slowly until you’re ready to enjoy!
3. Grab aluminum foil for celery
Unlike other produce, celery needs help retaining moisture to stay fresh. To keep it from getting limp, separate, wash and dry the celery stalks. Then, wrap the stalks in aluminum foil and store them in the fridge. This keeps the moisture in, air out, and allows the ethylene gas (which ripens the celery) to escape!
4. Wash berries with a little white vinegar
Fresh berries are delicious, but they can get moldy quickly because of tiny spores on the fruit. Rinse your berries in a diluted white vinegar bath to kill the spores and keep them fresh longer.
To do this: Prep a large bowl with 4 parts water and 1 part white vinegar and allow the berries to soak in the bowl for a minute. Then, thoroughly rinse and drain the fruit with tap water. Dry the berries completely and store in a paper-towel lined container in the fridge (you can use the one they came in). If using an air-tight container, crack the lid a bit to avoid moisture build up.
5. Don’t keep olives in the can after opening
While many of us can devour an entire can of olives in one sitting, we know some of you will want to save some for later. To store olives after you’ve opened a can, make sure to transfer the olives (and the brine!) to an air-tight, non-metal container and store in the fridge to keep the olives tasting fresh longer (for up to 10 days). To save olives purchased in a glass jar, you can store them in the fridge right in their existing container, which is already tightly sealed.
Pro tip: Don’t let the olive brine to go to waste! We’ve got 8 great ideas on how to use that olive brine.
6. Keep fresh herbs happy in a little water
We love fresh herbs but hate how quickly they wilt. To keep herbs fresh, cut off the ends and place them in a half-full cup of water (like a bouquet). Don’t rinse the herbs yet — wait until you’re ready to use them. Cover the herbs with a loose plastic bag and make sure to change the water every couple of days. Fresh herbs can keep for 2 weeks, or longer, this way!
- For basil: Keep at room temp
- For parsley: Keep either at room temp or store in the fridge
- For cilantro: Store in the fridge
7. Water your guacamole!
Avocados are among the foods that spoil most quickly — and it’s a shame to throw out good guac! Next time you can’t finish that bowl of guacamole, level the top off as best you can and tap the bowl against the counter to help remove any air bubbles. Then, pour a thin layer of cold water on top to create a tight seal. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. When you’re ready for more — just pour the water out, stir the guac up and grab the chips!
8. Keep the seal extra-tight on parmesan cheese
If you’ve spent money on authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano, you want to make sure it doesn’t become hard and inedible. Instead of tossing parmesan in a plastic bag, make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to preserve the cheese’s natural humidity so it doesn’t dry out.
Avoiding plastic? You can also wrap parmesan in wax paper and then another layer of aluminum foil, or even in a reusable beeswax food wrap.
9. Mushrooms prefer paper — not plastic
Plastic bags help keep in moisture which can cause mushrooms to get moldy. Instead, keep your unwashed mushrooms in a paper bag. The bag helps absorb some excess moisture and allows the mushrooms to breathe.
Also, skip the fruit & veggie crisper drawers! It’s too moist for them. And be sure to keep mushrooms away from foods with strong odors; their porous nature will absorb the smell.
10. Let carrots take a little bath
Ever notice that the bag of baby carrots you buy is usually very wet? That’s because water helps carrots stay fresh and crisp. Whether you’re buying regular carrots or baby carrots, they’ll keep longer if you store them in a container of cold water in the fridge. If you bought carrots with the leafy green tops still attached, just be sure to trim the greens off first.
Extra almond butter pro tip!
Don’t keep almond butter refrigerated! It’s absolutely safe to keep at room temperature, and it will stay much smoother and more spreadable in the pantry — always at the ready for snack time.