We're serious when we say that the right food storage has the potential to keep food fresher for longer. And it's easier than you might think. In fact, it's so easy that most of us could probably take a look in our fridges right now and make some changes straight away. The only thing you'll regret is not knowing about these simple food storage hacks sooner.
This is not only great news for those looking to reduce food waste, but also for those looking to save money and – as is particularly relevant at the moment – minimise trips to the supermarket. Check them out below, then head over to our food hub for more advice and information on storing food (plus plenty of recipes)
- Special thanks to Luisa Jamieson, Functional Leader and Food Scientist for Fisher & Paykel, for sharing her tried and tested food storage tips and tricks
1. You need to separate some fruit and veg from others
Yup, you need to separate ethylene-producing fruit and veg from others. Ethylene is a gas produced by some fruit and vegetables that causes other produce to ripen faster. An example of this is avocados which can speed up the ripening process of bananas too quickly when in the same fruit bowl. The best way to ensure that the shelf life of fruit and vegetables is maximised is to store them in a specially designed crisper bin or drawer within your fridge.
However, if you are storing both ethylene-sensitive vegetables (such as asparagus, broccoli, cucumber, leafy greens, strawberries and raspberries) and ethylene producing fruits (such as apples, pears and kiwifruit), they should be kept in separate drawers as ethylene will reduce the storage life of sensitive produce.
2. You can make your own crisper bin
Crisper bins have a different humidity level to the rest of the fridge and are designed to prolong the freshness of produce and to retain the micronutrients needed for a healthy diet. For those without a crisper bin, reusable containers such as lunchboxes can be used as a homemade alternative.
For leafy greens, simply place a damp cloth or paper towel at the bottom of the container to keep the humidity high and cover. In cases where humidity becomes too high and water begins to pool in the container, open the lid slightly to allow ventilation. By nature, fruit needs more ventilation than vegetables and will do well in a slightly ajar container, paper bag or box.
3. You CAN store bananas in the fridge – and they will last for almost a month!
The UK has experienced some unseasonably hot days this spring so far and you may have noticed the contents of your fruit bowl ripening or softening faster than usual. This can be down to a number of reasons, from the warmer temperature to being exposed to direct sunlight. If you are starting to tire of banana bread or freezing bananas for smoothies, then your next option is the fridge.
Bananas can be stored in the fridge and – miraculously – can last for up to month if kept at the optimum temperature which is around 12°C. The reality is that you will need a sophisticated piece of kit that will be able to keep one compartment of the fridge at this temperature while the rest stays cooler for other essential items – but it can be done.
Fisher & Paykel has developed Variable Temperature Zone technology for its fridge freezers. With this, the temperature in certain compartments can be adjusted between Fridge, Chill and Pantry modes in the fridge, and Freezer, Soft-Freeze and Deep-Freeze modes in the freezer to provide ultimate flexibility for food storage.
Other fruits which are best kept in the fridge (according to Love Food, Hate Waste) include apples, parsnips and courgettes (under 5°C for each).
4. You can store large cuts of meat without taking up lots of space
The secret to correctly storing large cuts of meat and significantly reducing waste is portioning. Free flow freezing, where meat is spread in a single layer, frozen until solid and then packed into a suitable container, is a great way to maximise space in the freezer and reduce the amount of produce thrown away.
5. You can freeze most liquids
Batch cooks of soups, sauces and meals like lasagne can all be frozen, and don’t forget you can also freeze milk! Just make sure the bottles are stored upright or empty a tiny bit of milk from the container to allow for expansion. Milk should then be defrosted and stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.
6. You can Marie Kondo the layout of your fridge
Possibly the easiest yet most overlooked way to get the most out of your food shopping is to have a suitably organised layout in your refrigerator and freezer space. By rearranging items of similar heights to be on the same shelves, the height of the shelves can be adjusted, and any wasted space is then eliminated.
7. You should use up and move on
Now is also a great time to turn your attention to the often overlooked door shelves and top shelf of the refrigerator where items you have forgotten about can hide. Make a point to use these before they go out of date.
In the freezer, if there are items that are between six to 12 months old, use them! Anything over 12 months should be inspected and, if necessary, discarded. If you still require more freezer storage, consider forgoing ice for a period of time. Simply turn the ice off and remove the container to create more space for frozen food.
8. You CAN maximise everything
There are some fantastic resources available such as ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ where you can find recipes which utilise even the most random of leftovers before they take their final turn. There is also lots of useful help and advice on storage, expiration dates and information on how you can reduce levels of food waste and help your community