Consumer Activist, Regina Lewis, appeared on CBS The Early Show today with helpful hints on keeping food fresh longer.
We all know that eating healthy often means eating fresh, but unless you store your food correctly, not only food winds up spoiled before you prepare it, and any savings by buying it on sale is completely lost.
Here is a summary of the tips Ms. Lewis shared with viewers today.
- Herbs. The best way to keep herbs fresh is to by storing them in whole bunches. First wash them, then seal them in zip lock bags and place them in the freezer. Storing them this way should keep them at peak freshness for up to a month. That’s more than double them time they would last in the fridge. And when you are ready to use them, you’ll find they are actually easier to chop frozen – and they’ll defrost in a hurry once you toss them into a hot pan.
- Flour, Rice and Pasta. Flour keeps for 6-12 months and pasta up to two years. The scent of the bay leave will help repel the bugs. Other items bay leaves will protect are barley, cornmeal and oatmeal. Most cereal products will be just fine for months with the bay leaves to protect them. Also consider scattering a few leaves on your pantry shelves to repel moths, roaches and mice.
- Cheese. Put butter on your cheese to keep it moist when storing it in the refrigerator. Spread butter or margarine on the cut sides and you help seal in the moisture. This trick works best on hard cheeses sealed in wax.
- Veggies. The best way to re-crisp wilted vegetables–result of water loss– is by putting them in ice water. Let them soak in the ice water for up to a half hour. The ice water penetrates their cells and helps restore the crunch. Some foodies also suggest that tossing in a few slices of raw potato.
- Salt. To keep the saltf lowing and shakers unclogged, put a little bit of dry rice in the shaker it will stop the salt from hardening. The rice works like a sponge, absorbing condensation that can cause clumps.
- Butter. One staple you can stock up on when it’s on sale is butter. If you shop in warehouse stores, such as Costco and Sams Club, don’t be afraid to buy it in bulk. Butter will keep in your freezer for up to six months. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container or you run the risk of it taking on the flavor of other items in your freezer.
- Cottage Cheese and Sour Cream. Simply place the cottage cheese or sour cream container in the fridge upside down. What does that do? By inverting the tub it creates a vacuum effect that stifles the growth of bacteria that can cause the food to spoil. Put container into plastic bag to catch any leaks.
- Honey Cannot Spoil! The sugar in honey is itself a preservative. Honey is also acidic, which helps to keep bacteria out. While it doesn’t go bad, all honey will crystallize at some point. But don’t toss it out. The crystals are just sugar and with a little gentle warming you can make the honey clear again. Try microwaving it on medium heat for 30 seconds at a time.
- Eggs. How to test the freshness. Fill up a container with water and place the eggs in it. Fresh eggs will sink; bad or spoiled eggs will float. According to the USDA website, an egg can float in water when its air cell has enlarged sufficiently to keep it buoyant. This means the egg is old, but it may be perfectly safe to use. Crack the egg into a bowl and examine it for an off-odor or unusual appearance before deciding to use or discard it. A spoiled egg will have an unpleasant odor when you break open the shell, either when raw or cooked.
- Brown Sugar. Brown sugar can easily lose its’ moisture and become as hard as a rock. To prevent it you can buy a little terracotta square or circle in most kitchen specialty stores and soak it in water and put it with your brown sugar in a tightly-lidded container. To rehydrate brown sugar, add a slice of orange peel and put into a sealed container–wait a week or so.