Part of being zero waste is about consuming what you do have; food included. While the compost bin is a better option than the landfill, your mouth is the ultimate zero waste destination for your food.
However, when you're looking to minimize plastics and therefore end up buying a lot of basic produce, it can become difficult to keep your food fresh and good to use. We're not even going to go into the crazy temperatures we have had this summer and how that can affect the speed of decomposition...
How to Store Food
Here are some key items in your fridge and pantry along with some tips on how to keep them and store them for maximum freshness:
Kale & Spinach
These leafy greens can really vary in terms of lifetime depending on how you keep them. Try destemming, cutting, and washing them as soon as you buy them. Then run them through the salad spinner while in a cloth produce bag and then put the entire thing in the fridge. The dampness will keep the contents fresh (don't let it be wet, just damp!)
Tomatoes in the grocery store are never stored in the fridge. Why? Because keeping them there destroys the flavour and texture as they get "mealy".
Avocados need to ripen before they are ready to eat, and most times the store sells them a little under so that they don't reach this stage until they are already at your home. Store them on your counter until they are ripe, and then move them to the fridge to maintain that level. If you open an avocado and only use half, store the remainder with the pit in either in an airtight container or wrap with a beeswax wrap (we carry Abeego in-stores).
Once cut or picked, these can be stored in a beeswax wrap or cloth produce bag in the fridge. A notable exception is basil which will turn black pretty quickly. If you keep the cut stems in water at room temperature, it slows down the process.
Best kept in a linen bread bag or at least covered with a linen tea towel. The linen allows for natural ventilation while slowing down the drying out process.
Not in the fridge please! Store in a cool, dry place for maximum lifetime. Onions can be stored like that too!
Real coffee aficionados know that the only way to enjoy a fresh cuppa joe is to properly store those beans. Once you open the bag or container that your coffee beans came in, transfer to an airtight container like a jar and keep in the fridge. If you have left over ground coffee, you can store it like that as well.
Fruit like lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits can be stored either in the fridge or on the counter. However, for maximum juiciness, store in the fridge and bring to room temperature before consuming.
Plan for the "end of life" for your food
Of course, even with these tips, time will take its toll on your food- and that's why having a few "last call" recipes is always handy. Smoothies, salads, soups, quiches, tarts and pizzas are all great ways to use up the items which are close to expiry but can still be eaten. Don't forget the power of the freezer, of pickling, and preserving, as these are great ways to extend the life of your food and enjoy local, seasonal items year around!
Let us know your #zerowastelifestyle hacks for preserving food for as long as possible!