How to make your kitchen supplies last longer?

As the uncertainty of the lockdown hangs over us, the media frenzy about the hit in food supply chains has driven a lot of us into panic buying mode. While our refrigerators are well stocked and we’ve loaded up essentials, the downside to this is food wastage due to spoilage. To minimize this effect, store your dairy and vegetables correctly and plan your meals in advance while prioritizing perishables. Make a list of what is in your pantry and fridge, that way you can get to all the items before they reach their expiration date. 

Grains, lentils and pulses can last you a good 4-5 months when stored in dry, air-tight containers. However perishables like vegetables and dairy with shorter shelf lives need to be stored differently. Here are some storing hacks to get the most out of your fresh produce.

1) Dairy preservation

Milk is one of those dairy products that has a very short shelf life. If you find you’ve bought too many packets of milk, freeze the ones you are not using and thaw when required. Milk in tetra packs can be stored in a cool, dry place when un-opened, once opened, store it at the back of the fridge where the temperature is cooler, this will help it last longer. The same goes for organic milk, toned milk and curd. If you find that the milk has gone bad, you can use this quick recipe to turn it into paneer.

Ingredients

1 litre milk and 1-3 tbsp of lemon juice

Method

Bring the milk to boil on a medium flame. Once it has started to boil, add 1 tbsp of lemon juice and keep stirring it in. The milk will start curdling, if it hasn’t add some more lemon juice till it does. Turn off the stove and pour the curdled milk onto a muslin cloth placed in a colander. Squeeze off the excess water and keep the paneer wrapped in the cloth. Let it sit for an hour. Now the paneer is ready to be cut and refrigerated.

The shelf-life for paneer can be increased to almost a week by keeping it refrigerated in a bowl of water. Make sure you change the water everyday, otherwise it starts spoiling. 

Cheese if stored incorrectly can turn mouldy and crusty but fret not, dry cheese can be frozen. Don’t freeze an entire block of cheese, make sure you grate the cheese first and store it in an airtight bag/container. 

2) Fruits and vegetables 

If you’re worried that you cannot get through all the vegetables you bought, before they go bad-freeze them. Chop up vegetables like carrots, beans, cauliflower, peas and freeze them separately or in little mixed bags that come in handy when making mixed vegetable rices, gravies and stir fries.

To prevent mould build-up, wash your fruits and vegetables in a 1:3 ratio of white vinegar and water. Vinegar helps in killing bacteria. Once washed you can dry and store your fresh produce in the fridge. However don’t mix your fruits and vegetables in the fridge as several fruits like bananas, melons and apples give off ripening gases that can lead to vegetables like cucumbers and broccoli spoiling faster.

Onions, garlic, ginger and potatoes need not be refrigerated and can be stored in a cool, dry place. But keeping your onions and potatoes together can cause the potatoes to start sprouting, so store them separately. Vegetables like ripe tomatoes (raw ones do not need to be refrigerated), broccoli and mushrooms, on the other hand, last longer when refrigerated. Broccoli stays crisp and fresh when wrapped tightly in a foil and can last upto 4 weeks. A great tip to stop your mushrooms from browning too quickly is to remove them from its plastic packaging, dry them and store it in a brown paper bag. Paper bags help absorb the moisture that comes from mushrooms whereas plastic packaging traps it in.

3) The FIFO rule 

One way to make sure that you use all the produce you have on time is to follow the First In-First Out rule (FIFO). Store older food items at the front of your fridge and keep the newer items at the back and use them in this order. 

Tough times call for sustainable living practices and it is high time we put them to use. These will not only help us during the current scenario, but in the long run as well. Sustainability is that which meets the needs of the present without compromising on the ability of the future to meet their own needs. So we at Earth basket urge you to take a step towards sustainability when it’s most needed. If not now, then when?  

Kitchen Hacks During Lockdown

These are trying times for the entire world. It feels as if everything has come to a standstill, the future is uncertain and there is no place to go. But, if you look at it from a different lens, it is a time to be grateful for the food in the pantry, the health of your loved ones and the gift of time that has been given to us. There is so much that one can do in terms of making lifestyle changes that will not only be of use now but will also be sustainable once we beat this virus. 

With the household maids gone and the task of kitchen chores falling on the family members, here are a few kitchen hacks that are sure to be of great help! 

  • Meal Planning

The most important thing to do at a time when food and external help is limited, is to do meal planning. If your family is buying groceries every week, then sit down with everyone and make a meal plan for all the meals in the coming week. Once the meals have been decided, list down all the ingredients that you need for the meals. Remember, that it is advisable to be smart and use limited resources in different ways. Include vegetables and fruits that can be used in different ways for different meals. Include things that are zero fuss and easy to make. Once that is done, ration out how much is needed for the entire family and then buy only that. There are multiple benefits to doing this; it saves money, ensures zero waste of food, possibly feeds another family from the extra food that you did not buy.

  • Long-lasting fruits

Pick up fruits that stay up to ten days in the refrigerator or on the shelf. Apples, oranges, pomegranate and pear are great for ten days on the shelf. Cut pineapple and watermelon are great for ten days in the refrigerator. Pro Tip: Citrus fruits like oranges aid in immunity boosting.

  • Versatile veggies

Look for vegetables like potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, cauliflower, green beans and tomatoes that you can stock up in bulk and are ones that can be used in a variety of recipes. You can also convert vegetables to pickles and then use them to spice up dals in the weeks to come.

  • One pot meals

The best thing to do is look for recipes that are one pot meals. These are easy to cook, taste delicious and do not stir up a mess in the kitchen, resulting in less utensils to wash! Some ideas for your one pot meal planning which you can eat  – khichdi, thuli upma, masala chickpeas, bisi bele bhaat, vegetable pulav, coconut rice – these are just ideas. Bring out your creativity during these times and involve your family in the kitchen. 

  • For the fitness heads

For people who are conscious about their daily nutrient intake or people who workout, the best option at this point is to take your protein shakes as one meal so that you can get all the required nutrients. Be sure to keep your calorie intake steady. With all the free time on hand, it could be tempting to snack on unhealthy chips or chocolate. Refrain from doing so and try to meal-prep some protein rich snacks and stock up instead. 

Finally, stay home, stay safe and stay positive! We will get through this together 😀

4 Ways to be eco-friendly during a pandemic

A nation-wide lockdown! This is certainly not something to brush aside, but a time to stay completely conscious of one’s safety. 

We are sure you would have heard things such as stay indoors, always wash your hands, eat home-cooked food, stay protected on the news, on social media and everywhere!

As the world continues to brace itself for more cases of infection, it is important to take personal precautions to protect yourself. But, how does one keep in mind to protect themselves from the coronavirus outbreak whilst minimizing the impact on the planet. Are there eco-friendly ways to do so?

Home-based disinfecting

While there are quite a few environmentally friendly products on the market, making your own environmentally friendly disinfectant is very cheap and extremely quick hack. Here are a couple of ways to do it yourself at HOME.

  • Just Eucalyptus oil and water

Simply mix 50 ml of eucalyptus oil with a liter of water and there you go – not everything that is effective needs to be complex. Eucalyptus oil is a proven disinfectant with anti-septic properties. Be sure to shake well before use and keep it out of direct sunlight. 

  • Ceramic or Glass Stovetop Cleaner

Day-to-day cleaning can be done with simple soap and water or vinegar spray. To remove stuck-on food, wet the area with hot soapy water and sprinkle with baking soda. Cover with a damp towel and allow to stand for half an hour, then wipe with a clean damp cloth. Use a silicone spatula to help loosen food. Be sure to remove all residue.

  • Natural all-purpose cleaner

Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda into 2 liters of water. Use for removal of water deposit stains on shower stall panels, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, etc.

Not only will you have a greener disinfectant, but by making your own, you’re more likely to use the same container, which means you are cutting down on your plastic consumption.

Boost your immunity with home-cooked food

Be aware and be precautious! The best way you could do this is by keeping your immunity high. You must stay healthy during this period because that largely reduces the chances of an infection. 

And what if we told you that a good hot rasam is the best solution to this?

This sour and spicy goodness is very easy to cook and gulp!

  • In a bowl take 2 cups of water and soak tamarind (as per taste). Grind 1 teaspoon of jeera/cumin seeds, half a teaspoon of pepper and four to five garlic pods together. Add turmeric and salt to the bowl.
  • Now heat the kadai and add a little ghee, rai (mustard seeds). Add hing, methi dana (fenugreek seeds), kadi patha (curry leaves). Now add the ingredients in the bowl to the kadai. Add salt and bring it to bowl.
  • Relish the delicious hot pot of rasam. 

Simple and easy!

Ward off any risk through age-old desi remedies

Did you know there are  many traditional immune-boosting hacks?

Some are as simple as warming up a mug of milk with 1 tsp of turmeric. To improve the absorption of curcumin (key ingredient in turmeric), add a tsp of ground black pepper as well. Turmeric is known for its anti-viral and anti-oxidant properties. Anti-oxidants are key to the functioning of our immune system. A good night’s sleep and staying hydrated are also essential to be followed along with this routine to aid in immunity boosting. Drinking filtered lemon water throughout the day gives us a boost in Vitamin C, which is known to prevent bacterial infections.

An option to do the right thing with face masks

Even though we do not advocate single-use masks, over-using the same cloth masks can carry the risk of more infection than single-use masks. Hence, they should be avoided. However, developments are currently underway to try and create an effective face mask that is reusable in the light of limited supply and the environmental footprint it will ultimately leave behind.

Considering these are the safest and easiest ways to lead an eco-friendly yet conscious life during this COVID-19 situation, we at Earth Basket strongly recommend all of you to stay safe, eat healthily and not ignore any signs and symptoms. Most importantly, order only if in dire need and do not hoard.

Common myths about Organic food

If it doesn’t look good then it isn’t good quality

In general, fresh organic produce may have a few scratches or scars. An apple in the store is smooth. That gloss is wax. Once an apple leaves the orchard, it is sprayed with a commercial coating specially formulated to impress buyers. These coatings are harmful for consumption and don’t come off even after washing. At Earth Basket, the organic produce has no such coating to make it look better. Only quality fruits and vegetables that are firm and fresh are sourced. Produce may only have cosmetic imperfections and never quality issues (such as mold, decay, etc.)

Organic food is too expensive

Organic farmers have higher production costs because of lower yields, higher organic fertiliser cost and greater labour input. Therefore, organic food can be expensive, but only marginally by about 25%. At Earth Basket we keep our margins low and make our products affordable. Also, conventional food can have some hidden costs, such as health costs related to issues caused by pesticides. Investing in your health today is better than paying hospital bills in the future.

Therefore, the best way to understand and enjoy the benefits of organic produce is to try it yourself.