During lockdown we’re going to the shops way less to help flatten the curve, reduce our chances of exposure to COVID-19, and avoid maniacs bulk-buying toilet paper and Ina Paarman brownie mixes. No matter how reluctantly, we’ve all had to up our home cooking game. And as a result, our fridges and shelves have never been fuller. Here are our favourite food hacks for storing fresh produce, getting the most out of your ingredients, and preventing waste:
1 Freeze your milk, in small quantities
You’ve heard of freezing a bottle of milk and defrosting the whole thing in the sink, now get ready for: freezing just the right amount of milk for a cup of tea. Instead of refilling your ice trays with water (because we’ve all run out of booze by now any way and what good is an ice cube if not in a G&T) use milk. Every time you have a cup of coffee or tea pop one of two blocks in. Ideal for those isolating alone and struggling to get through a whole 2l of milk before it expires (‘cos there are only so many bowls of Frosties a day the human body can handle).
2 Wrap your cheese correctly
Okay, so apparently wrapping cheese in plastic-wrap *doesn’t* keep it fresh (it suffocates your cheese) and can actually ruin the flavour. The best way to store cheese is in cheese bags or cheese paper, but luckily wax paper will do the trick too (just in case you forgot to stock up on cheese bags before the lockdown).
If your freezer is on top of your fridge then keep your cheese at the bottom (in the vegetable drawer) to prevent it from getting too cold. Rubbing olive oil, canola oil or butter on the cut part of the cheese also helps to keep mould at bay. If mould does grow, it will be on the oil, which you can just wipe away. Yummy.
3 Preserve your herb’s flavour
Freezing is a good way to keep herbs without losing flavour and nutrients. To store hardy herbs like rosemary, dill, bay leaves, sage or thyme spread them in a single layer on a plate or tray to avoid clumping. Once they’re frozen put them in a Tupperware in the freezer and snip off sprigs as you need.
For softer herbs, such as parsley, mint and coriander, chop them up and put them in ice trays with water for freezing. Running out of ice trays? Once they’re frozen transfer them into a Tupperware or Ziploc bag and pop that in the freezer to free up tray space. You can also substitute water with olive oil for herbs like basil, oregano and thyme.
4 Keep your potatoes in the dark
You might have noticed your potatoes have started sprouting, which means they’re getting too much light. The same goes for garlic and onions. These veg should be stored in brown paper bags, separately. Also don’t wash your potatoes until you’re about to cook them, as any moisture will also make them sprout.
Oils also like the dark and exposing them to hear and air can cause oxidisation. Keep them in a dark cupboard away from the heat of the stove.
5 Make your avocados last for months
…Or as long as your self-control allows. We were today years old when we found out avos can be frozen. Bethany Ugarte, a gut health specialist, recently shared a mind-blowing video of her cutting into an avocado that had been in her freezer for four months. And it looks perfect inside. Just run your frozen avo under warm water, leave it to sit for 30 minutes, and it’s ready to be sliced/smashed/eaten straight out of the peel with a spoon.
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6 Bananas belong in the freezer, not the fridge
A banana in the fridge will blacken, quickly. This might not be such a bad thing given that everyone is suddenly really into making banana bread, but if you want to keep them fresh then a good old-fashioned fruit bowl will do. Try wrapping them steps in Cling Wrap to make them last longer.
Bananas also do surprisingly well when frozen. Peel them, cut them up, and put in an air-tight container in the freezer. Add to smoothies, or put them in a food processor with peanut butter and some milk and you’ve got your own homemade (healthy) ice cream.
7 Organise your fridge
If you are using the lockdown as a chance to Marie Kondo every room in the house, don’t forget the fridge. Store fruit and vegetables separately (they emit different gases, which can have negative effects on each other). Keep your milk on a shelf, not in the fridge door (the door gets opened throughout the day, whereas the temperature on a shelf remains constant). Don’t overfill the refrigerator as this could restrict airflow. Rather try space out food evenly, not crammed on top of each other. And keep your most used items in front for easy access; keeping the door open for longer means cold air escapes.
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