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Thursday, 20 October 2016

Natural Ways To Keep Food Fresh Longer

If you are interested in health and diet, you have probably read all the research which points to the benefits of fresh, unprocessed foods. Eating healthier nearly always means opting for fresh fruits, whole grains and unprocessed meats and fish. Unfortunately, choosing foods without preservatives does have a down side - food spoils faster. That is no reason to go back to eating over-processed foods full of chemical preservatives, though. Long before our dependence on chemical preservatives, our mothers knew the secrets to keeping food fresh longer naturally. Here are some tips to help you keep fresh fruits, grains, vegetables, meat and fish fresh longer - the natural way.

General Tips

1. Keep your refrigerator at the right temperature. It should be kept between 38 and 40 F. to keep your foods as fresh as possible without freezing them.

2. Keep your eye on expiration dates when you shop.

3. Do not store highly perishable foods in the refrigerator or freezer door. They are more prone to temperature fluctuation.

4. Moisture promotes rotting and mold. Wipe vegetables and fruits dry before storing and avoid storing in plastic bags.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Vegetables and fruits give off a gas called ethylene as they ripen. The ethylene sets off a chain reaction that causes the release of more ethylene, causing the food to ripen further. When fruits and vegetables are exposed to ethylene, they ripen faster. Some fruits and vegetables give off more ethylene than others - and some of them are more sensitive to ethylene than others. 

1. Ethylene producers include apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, honeydew melons, kiwis, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, plums, and tomatoes. 

2. Fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to the effects of ethylene include: apples, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, green beans, lettuces and other greens, potatoes, summer squash, and watermelons.

3. To keep fresh fruits and vegetables fresh longer, do not store any of the former group n the same drawers as those in the latter group.

4. Store fruits and vegetables in the warmest part of your fridge to preserve flavor.

5. Remove produce from plastic bags before storing. The bags trap the ethylene close to the fruit so that it ripens faster.

6.Wash produce and then dry well before storing. Moisture speeds rotting.

Meats and Eggs

1. Keep fresh meats refrigerated between 38-40 F. 

2. Keep meat in original wrapping in refrigerator if you will be using it within two days.

3. Wrap meat in foil or freezer paper before freezing.

4. Make sure that there is plenty of air circulation around meat products in your refrigerator.

5. Store eggs pointed side down.

6. Wrap smoked meats like ham or bacon in a vinegar-soaked cloth.

7. Cool cooked meats quickly and completely before placing them in refrigerator. 

Bread and Cereal Products

1. Store fresh bread in a cool, dark, dry place like a cupboard or breadbox.

2. Close the waxed paper inner bag of breakfast cereals tightly to preserve freshness. Better yet, transfer the cereal into a zipper lock plastic bag and put it back in the box.

3. Freeze bread that will not be used within a week. If you freeze artisan breads pre-sliced, you can just take a slice when you need it. 

4. Keep soft cookies soft by storing them in a cookie jar or airtight container with a slice of bread.

5. Cut slices from loaf cakes like banana bread and pound cake from the middle instead of the end. After slicing, push the two ends together to reform the 'loaf'. You don't leave a cut end to get stale that way.

6. To keep cake moist, store it with half an apple in the container.

Dairy Products and Cheese

1. Store milk in its original container. 

2. Do not store milk in the door where temperature is warmer.

3. Put milk back in refrigerator immediately after using.

4. Wrap cheese in waxed paper or plastic, then store in deli drawer.

5. Do not store ice cream in the freezer door. Keep it in the main part of the freezer.

6. Place a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper directly on the surface of the ice cream before storing. It will keep fresh longer.

Miscellaneous

1. Store coffee in an airtight, opaque container to preserver flavor and freshness.

2. Buy coffee in whole bean form and grind enough for one pot at a time.

3. If you buy more coffee than you can use in 3-4 days, store in an airtight container in the freezer/

4. Store avocadoes unbagged in the refrigerator.

5. Store bananas on the counter, unbagged.

6. Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries) should be stored in their plastic container or a resealable plastic bag in the back of the refrigerator.

7. Wrap lettuce in damp paper towels and store in a plastic bag.

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