10 Ways To Keep Food Fresh Longer

10 Ways To Keep Food Fresh Longer
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10 Ways To Keep Food Fresh Longer

Want to find out how to make common foods last longer? Discover these 10 proven kitchen tips that are backed by science and experience in the kitchen.

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Wrap banana stems in plastic wrap.

If you cover the crown of a banana bunch (where the stems are) in plastic wrap, the bananas will last longer. Bananas release natural ethylene gas to ripen themselves, and most of the gas is released from the stem. By wrapping the crown, you will prevent some of the gas from reaching the rest of the banana. For a more effective technique, separate the bunch and individually wrap each stem. Bananas on a bunch ripen at different rates, and more ripe bananas release more gas. This method will prevent their off-gassing from prematurely ripening the other bananas.

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Cook vegetables as soon as you buy them.

To keep vegetables longer and prevent wasting food, chef and food writer Tamar Adler suggests the intriguing idea of cooking your vegetables immediately after buying them. You can prepare and refrigerate a week’s worth of precooked food beforehand, which can be warmed to room temperature and dressed with vinaigrette for a salad, baked into a mid-week frittata or tossed into vegetable curry at the end of the week.

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Store potatoes with an apple to prevent sprouting.

To test this tip, America’s Test Kitchen stored two bags of russet potatoes, one with an apple and one without, in a dry, dark spot. After three weeks, one potato in the bag without an apple had sprouted, and after a total of five weeks all the potatoes had sprouted. In comparison, the bag with an apple stayed mostly firm and sprout-free for eight weeks! Low levels of ethylene gas, such the amount an apple omits in a well-ventilated bag, suppresses the elongation of the potatoes’ cells, preventing sprouting.

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Revive droopy greens with ice water.

Restore the crisp texture of your wilted greens by soaking them in an ice water bath. Through a process called osmosis, water travels across the permeable membrane of the leafy vegetable’s cell walls into dehydrated cells, making them look fresh again. You can watch a time-lapse video of the process here.

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Keep berries fresh by washing them in vinegar water.

Wash fresh strawberries, raspberries and other berries in a diluted vinegar bath made from one part vinegar and three parts water to elongate their shelf life for days or even weeks. This works because vinegar is a natural disinfectant and mold killer. Just make sure to dry the berries thoroughly and store in a clean, paper towel-lined container.

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Need only a little lemon juice? Skewer them instead.

If you only need a few drops of juice, puncture a hole through the lemon's skin with a skewer or fork and squeeze what you need. Cutting them in half will only dry them out quicker.

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Store your tomatoes stem-side down on a flat surface.

Keeping the stem side of tomatoes unexposed keeps them fresh for about a week outside the fridge (refrigeration dries out tomatoes and makes them flavorless). Some speculate that this works because the stem holes are an exit point for moisture and an entry point for mold and bacteria. If you don’t have enough countertop space, try covering tomato tops with scotch tape.

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Freeze flour for a few days to kill bugs.

After you’ve purchased your flour from the store, store the bag in the freezer for several days to kill weevils and insect eggs. Female weevils lay eggs in the grain kernel, and larval weevils feed from within making them difficult to detect. Super heating or cooling will kill these pests easily. Just make sure to wrap your flour well or pack it in a freezer bag to prevent it from picking up food odors. You can continue to freeze or refrigerate flour if fridge space is not an issue.

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Pack your leftovers in canning jars.

Wide-mouth glass canning jars are a smart and inexpensive way to store food in your refrigerator. They’re airtight, leak-proof and safe for reheating in the microwave. Since they’re see-through, you’ll know exactly what’s inside and how much you have left.

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Consult this FDA storage chart.

Find out what you can refrigerate and freeze and for how long with this handy storage chart from the FDA. An opened package of lunch meat will only keep 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator, but in the freezer can last up to two months without loss in quality. Refer to the chart to learn what other foods you can freeze to extend their life spans.

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Tired of strawberries that spoil just days after you buy them, or want to find out the surprising secret to longer lasting tomatoes? The Internet is a vast resource for finding such advice, but how do you separate tried-and-true tips from kitchen superstition?

We weeded through it all to find these 10 kitchen tips that have been tested and approved by food bloggers, scientists and chefs.

Check out the slideshow above to learn 10 proven kitchen tips that help keep food fresh longer.

For more kitchen tips, check out these articles from Kitchen Daily:

The Basics of Freezing and Unfreezing Food
Busting the Most Common Kitchen Myths
Things My Mom Taught Me

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