Careful storage leads to healthier eating and less waste

NOW that the weather is slowly starting to heat up, our minds turn to healthier eating and maybe sheddingthe layer of extra winter padding by stocking up on fresh fruit and vegetables.

The average Irish household throws away €800 to €1,000 worth of food a year. We waste food for a number of different reasons, one of which is incorrect storage. Besides being good food-hygiene practice, if you store your fresh produce properly it will keep better and you won’t end up binning it. And as your fresh fruit and vegetables start deteriorating, you are missing out on up to 60pc of nutrients that would have been available if the produce was in good condition.

Storage tips

? Fresher, crisper produce tastes better, so it’s important to get vegetables that tend to wilt into the fridge as quickly as possible.

? Produce that tends to last for a long time, such as potatoes and onions, can be stored in a cool, dark place such as a pantry. I keep mine in wire baskets, which allows the air to circulate and discourages them from sprouting too soon.

? Foods that spoil quickly should be kept in the fridge at about 6C and should only be washed before eating.

? If your vegetables are nearing their use-by dates, but you don’t have a chance to make a meal out of them, there is a rescue plan. Peel the vegetables if necessary and blanch them by briefly plunging them into boiling water. This stops the enzymes that can cause spoiling. Cool, dry, cover well and freeze in portion sizes.

? Don’t pile all your veggies and fruit together as they can cause one another to spoil. Bananas should be kept away from avocados, tomatoes, pears, apricots and cantaloupe melon.

Common foods

? Apples – at room temperature for up to seven days or refrigerated in a plastic bag if you won’t eat them all.

? Bananas – at room temperature, both ripe and unripe.

? Grapefruit – at room temperature for up to one week or refrigerated for two to three weeks.

? Peaches – at room temperature in a paper bag if unripe; remove from the bag once ripe and eat withina day or two.

? Strawberries – refrigerated for two to three days without washing.

? Oranges – at room temperature for a day or two and refrigerated for one or two weeks.

? Broccoli – refrigerated for three to five days.

? Carrots – refrigerated in a plastic bag with the green tops removed.

? Iceberg lettuce – refrigerated in a plastic bag after rinsing and drying in a salad spinner.

? Tomatoes – at room temperature; they quickly lose their taste if refrigerated.

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