Summer is almost here! That means more produce is becoming available to be sourced locally, helping the price to come down, or maybe even be free from your own garden! If you’ve ever struggled to keep your produce fresh and need some new tips to extend its’ shelf life (even I need these tips as a dietitian!) or are looking for some fun and unique ways to use up your produce, look no further!
Make The Most Of Citrus Fruit
Citrus fruits are big, juicy and delicious this time of year! If you are only using citrus for the juice or segments, save the peels and simmer them in a pot of water to release fresh scents throughout your kitchen. Or, toss the peels into the garbage disposal for a quick cleaning with a pleasant citrus scent. Another tip for peeling orange varieties without the mess is to use the backside of a spoon to separate the rind from the white pith, your hands will be far less sticky, and the mess will be minimal!
Prevent Browning With Citrus Juice Or Olive Oil
There are many times when I don’t use up a whole apple, pear, avocado or potato. In order to reduce the amount of oxidation and browning that occurs on the cut and exposed surface area, you can squeeze lemon or lime juice over the area to protect it from browning. Be mindful of the type of juice you’re using (lime juice might not taste good on an apple or pear but could work for an avocado). Another option is to lightly brush olive oil on the exposed area for the same effect. Just be sure to store your produce in a tightly sealed container or wrap it tightly with plastic wrap to increase the shelf life even further.
Don’t Wash Your Produce Until You Are About To Eat It
It can be tempting to wash all your produce as soon as you get it home. Pre-washed produce tends to get eaten faster than unwashed, but you can make your produce last longer by waiting to wash until you are ready to eat. If you wash your produce and don’t let it dry completely, you will be speed up the ripening process or even mold growth and need to use your items much quicker than you may want.
Transfer Your Produce To A Tightly Sealed Container To Extend The Freshness
I own an unnecessary amount of mason jars, many of which I have collected over the years and have used for making homemade pickles and pickled jalapenos from my garden. I recently started using a few of them to store my fruits and veggies in the refrigerator. I am getting many more days of freshness and shelf life compared to when I used to store them in the original packaging. I’ve mostly been doing this with berries, but it has worked for many veggies too! If you don’t have mason jars, any container with a tight-fitting lid will work just as well.
Use Your Freezer To Stretch Your Produce Even Further
A complaint that I often hear from my customers when talking about purchasing fresh produce is that they forget to use it and then it goes bad too quickly. After I share with them my previous hack from above, I then will mention that you can freeze your produce even if it is starting to get mushy or moldy to extend your dollar. Just cut around the rotten area of the produce, and then transfer it into a freezer safe bag. Fruits can be added to a smoothie or thawed out and used in oatmeal or on a yogurt parfait. Veggies can be used in a soup stock, casseroles, chilis, sautéed with eggs, a stir fry… the list goes on and on!
I hope you find these hacks helpful for increasing your fruit and veggie consumption. They are a great way to reduce food waste, but also stretch your food dollar further. Happy Summer!