Make the most of your fresh produce
Posted on 17 October 2016
We all know that at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day is recommended as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Fresh, seasonal and organic – where possible – is best and more nutrient-dense. Here are some handy tips on how to make the most of fresh produce, prevent waste and enjoy delicious meals.
Farm to table…to freezer
• Moisture is the number one reason your fruit and vegetables are spoiling in the fridge. Line your crisper drawer with paper towels to absorb condensation and keep food fresher for longer. Placing absorbent towels in bags of salad leaves will do the same.
• Mushrooms covered with plastic are prone to spoil quickly due to condensation build-up. Keep them fresh and dry for longer in a paper bag in the fridge or in a cool, dry place.
• With spring upon us, we can look forward to an array of berries and other soft fruits like mangoes, peaches and papaya – but once ripe, they don’t keep for very long. Most fruits freeze really well for months – for best results, use ripened fruit and chop it up before freezing. Frozen fruits make a great addition to smoothies or cook them for desserts, jams or preserves.
• Fresh vegetables like pumpkin, butternut, marrow, leeks, carrots, tomatoes, onions and beans can be stored in the freezer for months and used in soups and stews. Portion the vegetables in sandwich bags or old yoghurt containers and label them so you can keep track of how long it’s been in the freezer.
• Avocadoes can be the trickiest fruit to handle. They often take ‘forever’ to ripen, and once ripe, they need to be eaten immediately and all at once. To keep a ripe, whole avocado from spoiling, keep it in the fridge to stop the ripening process. Once you’ve cut into it, leave the stone in the remaining half and squeeze a little lemon juice over the exposed flesh to keep in the fridge for another day or two.
Keeping your produce fresh on the shelf
• Bananas ripen more quickly when separated from the bunch. So if you’d like to keep them fresher for longer, keep the bunch intact and tear off a banana as needed.
• If you’d want bananas to ripen really fast, separate the bunch and place them in a paper bag. Bananas release the highest amount of ethylene gas as they ripen, so placing them in a bag traps the gas and ripens the fruit faster.
• Keep fresh herbs like parsley or coriander looking green and lively for longer by storing them in a jar of water, like you would a bunch of flowers.
• Buying pockets of potatoes saves costs, but the savings can be negated when the potatoes start to sprout and soften. Storing potatoes with apples will prevent them from sprouting, but remember to keep onions and potatoes separate as the gas onions release spoil potatoes.
Lastly, don’t forget that one spoilt apple really does spoil the whole bowl! If you spot one of these offenders in your fruit bowl, remove it immediately.