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.
1 litre milk and 1-3 tbsp of lemon juice
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?