So you have decided to splurge and reduce the amount of pesticides you are eating by eating more organic food… but since they don’t have preservatives like their conventional counterparts, they don’t last as long. So what to do? Here are some simple tips to make your organic food last longer!
- Keep your fridge clean! I know it’s not fun, but it is a necessary evil if you want food to last longer. Leftover residue or mold spores can increase the spoilage of all your food that is in the fridge.
- Don’t overstock the fridge. This leads to poor air circulation, and we want to keep our fruits and veggies at optimal temperature!
- Try not to cut your fruits and vegetables unless you have to, or will be using them right away. Even with proper storage, a cut apple is going to spoil faster than one that is not.
- Don’t wash in advance: Moisture is the enemy of fresh produce. Any extra moisture can quickly cause mold to grow. You can avoid this by not washing your produce until it is time to prepare it. Line the bottom of crisper drawers with paper towels to absorb moisture, or if you have the option, keep the humidity low in your refrigerator.
- Store each type of produce in the manner best suited for the particular item. You can’t just toss them all in the fridge and hope for the best! Here are the individual tips!
Store foods properly
Now that you are buying organic food, you can’t just throw everything into the drawer and forget about it. Each type of food has an ideal storage method. Use these tips to prevent decay and extend the life of your organic foods:
Leafy greens: These last longest when stored in damp paper towels and allowed to breathe. Do not crush greens under other produce.
Herbs and greens: Place fresh herbs and leafy greens in a jar or vase of water, just like you would a bouquet of flowers. They’ll last longer and you’ll have a beautifully green arrangement!
Root vegetables: Root vegetables will last longest when stored in a cool, dark place, such as the pantry. Do not store these in the refrigerator or freezer. Store potatoes with apples to keep them from sprouting, and don’t let them anywhere near your panty-hose onions. Onions will make them go bad faster, but apples are a potatoes best friend!
Cauliflower and broccoli: Keep these vegetables dry and do not get them wet until you steam them or plan to cook them fully. These two vegetables are some of the longest-lasting of the organic bunch when stored properly.
Fruit: Most everyday fruits, like apples, oranges, pears, tomatoes and avocados last longer when stored outside of the refrigerator.
Clean your berries, fruits, and greens in a mixture of 10 parts water and 1 part white vinegar. Not only will this remove excess dirt and even pesticides, but it will also help them last longer by preventing mold.
Berries: Prevent berries from getting moldy by storing them in a dry, single layer. A shallow dish or container that allows breathing will help keep them dry and prevent mold growth.
Apples: Apples do particularly well when stored in a cool, dry place. If you want a cold piece of fruit, just place it in the refrigerator the day you plan to eat it. Remove rotten apples immediately, because one rotten apple WILL spoil the entire bunch. Keep bananas away from your other produce, as they produce some of the highest amounts of Ethylene gas.
Bananas: Place plastic wrap around the crown of your banana bunch to keep them lasting longer. Side note: If you want them to ripen super fast, place them in a closed plastic bag. Since they emit so much Ethylene gas, they’ll ripen quickly when the gas is trapped by the bag.
Eggs: Don’t store eggs in the door as the refrigerators encourage. The temperature fluctuates too much. Store in the top back of the refrigerator.
Meat: Organic meat tends to go bad faster because there are no preservatives. The best way to prevent meat from going bad is to freeze it as soon as you bring it home from the grocery store. Separate the meat into meal-sized sections and store in the freezer. Take the meat out of the freezer and store in the refrigerator one day in advance so it will be ready to cook for the next day’s supper.
Grains: Organic bread products get moldy fast. Prevent this from happening by freezing your bread items when they come home from the store (except what you plan to use within the next 3–4 days). Wrap the bread tightly to prevent freezer burn.
Long-term storage ideas
Freezing is easy and can be done for almost any food. Cut vegetables or fruit into bite-sized pieces and freeze on a large cookie sheet. When the produce is frozen, you can move it to a container. If you are a canning whiz, you can also cook and can nearly any organic food.