Throwing food in the bin is painful, but necessary when you see mould sprouting on your humous. No one likes chucking food away, but now that we’re stocking up our fridges and cupboards far more to stay at home, it’s harder to keep track of what needs using up when. Don’t worry, there are ten simple ways to extend the shelf life of your kitchen stock. Food-waste expert and Oddbox co-founder Emilie Vanpoperinghe has compiled a guide on how to make your food last longer.
Ignore best-before dates
According to Emilie, the use-by date is the only date you need to pay attention to.
You’ll find it on items like meat and fish that could be dangerous to eat after a certain time.
Best before and sell by dates don’t tell you that food is unsafe to eat – they are simply used by shopkeepers to rotate their stock and are only an estimation of the freshness of your food.
If your food has passed its use by date, you need to bin it.
This is because food may contain bacteria and if stored for too long or at the wrong temperature, can cause food poisoning.
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Use your senses
Rather than relying on best-before dates to tell you whether something is still good enough to eat, use your senses.
Smell it, touch it, look at it, and maybe have a little taste of it.
Be cautious, though, and use your common sense. If something looks off in colour, or smells a little funky, it’s probably not okay to eat it.
Try this trick on all foods past their best-before dates. It’s a good way to reduce the food we chuck.
Climate control your fridge
If you find your food is going off too quickly, it’s worth checking your fridge temperature.
Dialling down the temperature too much may freeze the items at the back of your shelves (you don’t want that).
On the other hand, a temperature too warm isn’t good either. Adjust the dial and keep an eye on what works for your fridge.
You might be surprised about the number of foodstuffs you can freeze.
Not just bread, but milk, fresh fruit, meat, fish and even fresh ginger and chillies.
You can grate ginger and chillies straight from frozen into your cooking.
Defrost milk, meat and fish fully before using.
Use airtight containers
Oxygen is essential for us but is also a key player in the decay of our food.
Leaving our food open to the elements will certainly speed up the shelf-life of some of our foods.
Dry-store foods, like flour, nuts, dried fruit, spices, granola, cereal, and bread, all last longer when kept away from oxygen.
Store bread in a bread bin or tin and recycle handy jars or containers for storing your opened packets.
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Fresh herbs can last a fortnight!
Bunches of fresh parsley, coriander and mint tend to wilt quickly, especially when they’re kept in their plastic packaging.
Treat them like flowers, remove any plastic and stand them up in an inch of water and store in the fridge – they can last for a couple of weeks this way.
You can also wrap herbs in damp kitchen paper and store in the fridge.
Sort your veg drawer
An over-packed veg drawer is fertile breeding ground for mouldy carrots and sweaty courgettes.
Empty your veg drawer, give it a quick wipe and remove plastic packaging so your veg doesn’t sweat in their extra layers.
Store lettuce leaves in a container with a piece of kitchen paper to suck up any excess moisture and revive floppy celery by standing it in a glass of water.
Save your spuds
Leave root vegetables, like potatoes and carrots out of the fridge in a dark, cool cupboard or a dark canvas bag.
Bananas produce a lot of ethylene gas, which has a nasty habit of ripening other fruity neighbours. To remedy this, keep bananas out of the fruit bowl.
Apples, berries and pears last longer in the fridge, so stick them in there straight away.
Peel, chop, de-stone and freeze all fruit you won’t use up in time. This can gradually be added straight into smoothies, pancakes, and compotes as you see fit.
Slice excess lemons and freeze them too. You can pop them straight to your morning tea.
Chill cheese properly
A lazy habit most of us are guilty of is leaving cheese packaging open in the fridge.
Uncovered cheese will dry out and crack. Instead of wrapping it in clingfilm, coat it in a layer of greaseproof paper.
This will protect it while letting it breathe too. Yep, cheese needs to breathe.
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