5 Food Preservation Tips Everyone Should Know￼￼￼￼
Food waste is a serious problem worldwide. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 30% to 40% of the food supply is wasted in the United States, equating to approximately 133 billion pounds.
Perhaps most alarming is that much of the food that ends up in landfills could feed hungry families in need. Additionally, landfills emitted 14% of human-induced methane emissions in 2017, making food waste harmful to the environment.
Food loss can occur from manufacturing to the supply chains to the consumer. This is often due to spoilage, over-ordering, poor cold storage, pests and bacteria.
So, what’s the best way to prevent food waste, save money on groceries and help the planet? Here are five food preservation tips everyone should be aware of.
1. Keep Meat Wrapped and Refrigerated
You should always handle meat carefully to avoid the spread of harmful bacteria and ensure safe consumption. When it comes to food preservation, proper meat storage is essential.
Always keep meat sealed in its wrapping and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook it. Depending on the type of meat you purchase, you can usually hold it for one to five days in the fridge. According to FoodSafety.gov, consumers should follow the following guidelines for refrigerating meat the right way:
*Deli meat: Three to five days
*Bacon and sausage: One to two days raw, or one week cooked
*Ground meat: One to two days
*Beef, lamb and pork: Three to five days
*Ham: Three to five days
*Poultry: One to two days
*Fish: One to three days
*Shellfish: Varies, but anywhere between three and five days
If you don’t get around to cooking your meats by the time the refrigerator storage durations are up, stick your unwrapped meat items in the freezer. That way, you can safely preserve meat for months and defrost it when you’re ready to use them.
2. Freeze Produce You’re Not Ready to Eat
Imagine you’re at a farmstand during the summer and can’t resist purchasing a basket full of berries and pears. It’s not uncommon or hard to overbuy produce and other foods, especially if there’s a great sale or it’s peak season.
Luckily, you can freeze fruit and vegetables you’re not ready to eat. Take peaches, for example. You can freeze peaches for baking or eating later on, or even berries for making smoothies.
The same goes for vegetables. Some of the best vegetables to consider freezing include peas, broccoli, spinach, corn, peppers, squash, beans and cauliflower.
For vegetables, in particular, you’ll likely have to blanch them in boiling water to kill the bacteria before sticking them in the freezer. Cut up your fruits and veggies and place them on a baking sheet or stick them in a Ziploc bag.
3. Avoid Washing Produce Before Refrigerating
Storing fruits can be tricky. Some fruits you want to avoid storing together—like bananas which tend to ripen other produce more quickly. Other times, you’ll want to pay attention to how and when you wash your fruits.
While you’ll want to wash all your fruits and vegetables before eating, timing matters unless the packaging indicates it was pre-washed and ready to eat. It’s a good idea to avoid washing produce before storing it in the refrigerator, for example.
Washing your produce adds moisture and can increase bacterial growth and decay. Instead, put your fruit in the fridge and clean them thoroughly as you take them out for eating and cooking.
4. Store Washed Fresh Herbs in Ziploc Bags
Fresh herbs infuse our dishes with lots of flavor and nutrients; however, we tend only to use a handful at a time. Naturally, you may be wondering how to save the rest for later and avoid needing to throw them out.
Herbs can be somewhat fragile, so you’ll want to care for them properly. Whether you place them in the freezer or fridge, it’s important to immediately wash your herbs to rid them of dirt and bacteria. Run them under cold water, spread them out on a cutting board or dish towel and pat them dry. You might also use a salad spinner to get rid of as much water as possible.
Decide if you intend to use the herbs sooner rather than later. If you plan to use them sooner, clip them at the stem, remove wilted leaves and put them in a quart container with about an inch of water, just like a bouquet. You can also wrap them in a damp paper towel and plastic wrap like a burrito. Change the water every couple of days to keep the herbs preserved longer.
Most herbs do very well in the freezer, allowing you to save them for more extended periods. Take your herb burrito, put it in a Ziploc bag and stick it in the freezer until you’re ready for them.
5. Place Frequently Used Items in Plain Sight
How often do food items end up getting shoved in the back of your refrigerator or drawers? It’s easy to forget they’re there when this happens.
Take advantage of door bins to organize your most important and frequently used items, or make a conscious effort to place those items in the front on a shelf. You might even designate one particular shelf and drawer for easier access.
Do the same in your kitchen pantry. Don’t place items in hard-to-reach places or on the bottom shelf. Transparent food storage bins will help you take inventory of what you have, while grouping similar things can make them more accessible.
Preservation Techniques to Make Your Food Last
There are countless ways to preserve food and avoid generating more food waste. Although these five tips are seemingly basic and straightforward, they’re easiest to implement and ensure your food lasts and is safe to eat.
Good tips! I get paranoid about meat spoiling
These are excellent tips!