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Food storage hacks

Save money and the planet with these simple tips for extending the life of your food
Frozen basil leaves in an ice-cube tray with fresh basil on a wooden table

With the cost of living rising at its fastest rate in 30 years and the climate crisis feeling more real than ever, there’s never been a better time to extend the life of the food you buy. 
 
Improving the way you store food could make a real difference to your finances; each year the average UK family throws away £730 of food that could have been eaten.

Collectively, in our homes we throw away 4.4 million potatoes, 2.7 million carrots and 1.2 million tomatoes every single day.

TOP FOOD STORAGE TIPS

Tessa Clarke, co-founder of sharing app OLIO, shares her top tips below.
 
TOMATOES should be stored in a bowl on the counter top rather than in the fridge as they tend to go ‘mealy’ in the fridge.

POTATOES prefer to be kept in a cool, dark, dry place (avoid plastic) and unwashed until you use them. They should never be stored with onions, as onions accelerate their sprouting. Stored properly potatoes can last for several months.
 
APPLES work well in a fruit bowl, but any bruised apples should be quickly removed as they give off more ethylene — it really is true that ‘one bad apple spoils the bunch’.

BANANAS  also give off ethylene which accelerates their ripening. To slow this down, simply pop a beeswax wrap or tin foil hat on the top of a bunch to give them a couple of extra days
 
BREAD will last longer if you buy whole loaves rather than sliced, and wrap them in reusable cotton bags or plastic and store in an airtight container on the countertop. Perhaps the most effective way to store bread though is in the freezer, so you can just pull out a slice or two whenever you need it
 
CAKE can be kept moist if stored with a slice of bread on top of it; the bread will dry out (and can be used for breadcrumbs) but the cake will stay lovely and moist.

 
WINE left in the bottom of a bottle can be frozen in jam jars then pulled out whenever you’re cooking a risotto or making a stew or gravy.
 
AVOCADO when opened can be stored in a Tupperware with a slice of onion to stop it going brown. Alternatively, rub the open side with lemon juice. For your guacamole, simply spray it with a light layer of lukewarm water to prevent the air making contact and so keeping it fresh longer.
 
HERBS should be stored like flowers: in a jar of water on your countertop. Another option is to store them in Tupperware with a damp cloth or piece of kitchen towel in the fridge. If you want your herbs to last even longer, you can chop and freeze them in an ice-cube tray in oil or water (depending on whether you want to use them for a stir fry or stew) or freeze them on a tray before bagging up for later.

DAIRY PRODUCTS should be stored at the back of the fridge where it’s coldest to give maximum shelf life, not the door. Milk and cream can both be frozen, but make sure to freeze the bottles ¾ full to allow for expansion.
 
BERRIES can be given a quick rinse in a water and vinegar solution (one part vinegar to 10 parts water), then patted super dry and stored in the fridge to stop them going mouldy so quickly.
 
CELERY wrapped in tin foil and stored in the fridge will stay nice and crisp.
 
LEMONS keep well at room temperature for about a week. Pop them into a sealed plastic bag or container in the fridge and they’ll last four times longer.
 
HONEY can last for ever when stored in a sealed glass jar in a cool, dark place. If it does crystallise, just pop the jar in some warm water and it will liquefy again, just like magic.
 
It can work wonders to have an ‘eat me’ shelf in your fridge so you know everything there needs to be eaten soon before it goes off.
 
And finally, if you know you’re not going to eat something in time, then why not make a neighbour’s day by giving it away on the OLIO app instead? Half of all food added is requested in less than 30 minutes!

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