Methods to Keep Foods from Spoiling & Avoid Waste

According to a report from August 2012 by the National Resources Defense Council, America wastes about 40 percent of its food supply. Let that sink in for a moment. Imagine going into your kitchen and just throwing away 4 pounds of food for every 10 pounds you have. That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. You’ve either spent money buying or time growing and harvesting your food. Why on Earth would you want to just toss it out? The simple fact is we don’t throw away food that’s typically "good" – only the things that either grow hair, turn sour, or pass their expiration date.

Fighting Food Waste. Feeding People:
Roughly 50 percent of all fresh produce in the United States is thrown away — some 60 million tons (or $160 billion) worth of produce annually. Mostly, food that is perfectly good to eat. Here are some organizations that are working to reduce this waste:
Food Recovery Network is the largest professional nonprofit college student movement against food waste and hunger in America. Leftover food, from college cafeterias across the nation, is repackaged and delivered to hungry people. Video:
Imperfect Produce buys "unloved" fresh produce from farmers and delivers it in boxes to customers at a greatly reduced rate.
What can we do to reduce food waste?

If you've read 40 Ways to Save Money on Groceries, you'll want to know these simple methods to keep food from spoiling:

1 - Pull banana bunches apart. It will slow down their ripening process.

2 - Bananas produce more ethylene gas than any other fruit, so keep them isolated on the counter.

3 - If you don’t want a bunch of loose bananas on your counter, wrap the crown (where the bunch is connect together) with plastic wrap. They’ll keep for 3-5 days longer than usual (especially helpful if you eat organic bananas).

4 - If you have bananas that have gotten too ripe to be eaten whole, use them for baking.

5 - If you are not quite ready to turn your ripened bananas into delicious banana bread or muffins, peel and freeze them. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store several in a freezer bag. Then thaw them out and you are ready to bake. You can also use frozen bananas in smoothies, or mush them up and eat them like ice cream!

6 - When you buy berries of any sort, take them out of the plastic container and line the container with paper towels. Prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider) and ten parts water (the solution is diluted enough that you won’t taste the vinegar). Swirl the berries around in the mixture, rinse and drain. Place the berries back in the paper towel lined container and store in the fridge. Most berries including raspberries will last a week or more, and strawberries go almost two weeks without getting moldy and soft!

7 - Lemons will stay fresh for months if you keep them in a covered container filled with cold water in the refrigerator. Be sure the container has a tight fitting lid and change the water every week.

8 - There is an old saying that "all it takes is one bad apple to spoil the barrel". This is actually true. One apple that is going bad will bring the other apples down with it. Check your apples daily to make certain that you do not have a rotten one and, if you do, throw it out to protect other apples.

9 - Orange juice is great for keeping peaches fresh when freezing. Slice the peach in half and remove the pit and then dip only the fleshy side into orange juice. Place the peaches on a cookie sheet with the flesh side up and freeze. Once they are frozen hard, transfer them into freezer bags and date them so that you know when you froze them.

10 - Don’t store onions and potatoes together – the onions will cause the potatoes to sprout eyes.

11 - Store onions, garlic and shallots in paper bags with holes punched in them. They will last for months without spoilage!

12 - Thoroughly wash kale, spinach or other leafy greens and shake off the water the best you can in the sink (or use a salad spinner). Place the washed greens in a gallon zipper bag. Put a couple of clean, dry paper towels in the bag with the veggies. The paper towel does all the work. Your only effort is to check on it every few days and, if the paper towel is soaked, switch it out with a dry one. Fresh greens can be stored for up to a month using this method

13 - When storing asparagus, trim off the bottoms of the stems, place in water and cover the tops with a plastic bag. Store them in the refrigerator. They’ll stay crisp for a week or longer. This trick can be used on cilantro and parsley as well.

14 - Wrap celery, broccoli, and lettuce in aluminum foil before storing in the fridge. They’ll stay crisp for four weeks or more.

15 - Perfectly ripe tomatoes should be kept at room temperature, on the counter, away from sunlight, in a single layer, not touching one another, stem side up.

16 - Overly ripe tomatoes should be put in the fridge, but let them come to room temperature before eating them.

17 - Keep mushrooms in a paper bag, not a plastic one. A plastic bag will trap moisture and cause them to mildew. Put them in a paper bag in the fridge or in a cool, dry place.

18 - Instead of storing root vegetables and herbs (carrots, parsnips, ginger, etc.) in the fridge, store them in pots filled with sand. Place them in a flower pot, cover the roots with clean sand, and then take them out as you need them. Keep the pot in a cool, dark area.

19 - If you have raw meat in the fridge that you haven’t yet used, freeze it! You can freeze any meat raw.

20 - Cooked meat can be frozen for later use. Whole chickens can be cooked, the meat shredded, frozen in zipper bags and then thawed to use in dressing, wraps, or salad toppings… the possibilities are limitless.

21 - Put bread ends or scraps (if you have a picky child that doesn’t like crusts) into a big bag in the freezer to save for homemade croutons, stuffing, or breadcrumbs.

22 - If you catch huge baguettes on sale at the grocery store, make homemade garlic bread! Split them lengthwise, spread them with a garlic butter spread, and freeze them! Then you can pull out some of the frozen bread and pop it in the oven as a side for spaghetti!

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See Also:
Dehydrating Food
Off-Grid Refrigeration