Food is expensive, so it pays to know how to keep the food you buy for your family, fresh!
Utah State University, Consumer Educator, Teresa Hunsaker, shares her favorite fresh food tips.
With the price of food inching upwards, it is nice to be able to prolong its shelf life until we can get it consumed. Here are a few tips and options to freshen it up, or keeping it fresh longer. (Multiple options are listed for some foods.)
. Get the air out.
. Store in the fridge to slow down mold growth…but this does dry out the bread faster.
. Freezing bread as individual slices in a good airtight wrap, thaw at room temp or toast.
. Dark, dry, cool place.
. Store bread in a humidity controlled drawer in the refrigerator, on high, to keep from drying out.
. Double bag the bread—some say a paper bag first, then the plastic bag over the top of that
. Bread box keeps some air out
Cakes, Muffins, and Cookies
. Add half an apple to the airtight container you are storing your cake or cookies in.
. Layer cookies in an air tight container between sheets of waxed paper…then add a slice of fresh bread to the container…but not right on a cookie. Replace the bread when it gets dry and stale.
. Wrap muffins individually in plastic wrap and freeze.
. Place a fresh slice of bread in a tightly sealed container with the dry/hard marshmallows.
. Store marshmallows in the freezer in a good airtight container.
. Sprinkle with a little extra cornstarch after opening.
. Wilted produce can often be “plumped up” by submerging it in very cold water for 10-15 minutes…great for limp carrots, celery, radishes, and even some lettuce/greens.
. Do not store apples with any other fruit. It will cause the others to ripen faster.
. Store apples with potatoes to keep the potatoes from sprouting as fast.
. Store celery in aluminum foil…it keeps it much longer this way.
. Rinse berries in 2 cups cold water with ½ cup vinegar then spin dry in a salad spinner. It will keep the berries from molding as quickly. Store in a container with a paper towel in the bottom.
. Store produce like apples, mangos, peaches, pears, peppers, summer squash, turnips, and mushrooms in a lower humidity crisper or portion of the fridge.
. Store greens, herbs, broccoli, cauliflower, and green onions in a little higher humidity.
. Do not wash produce until ready to use.
. Store in an airtight container with a small slice of apple, lettuce leaf, or bread.
. Use the commercial Brown Sugar Bear…a terra cotta clay bear that you soak in water and then place in with your brown sugar. (Available at many restaurant/kitchen stores–$3-$5 each.)
. To soften hard brown sugar heat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds on high, while wrapped, but without a metal twisty. Use softened brown sugar immediately.
. Keep nuts fresh longer by storing them in an airtight container in the freezer.
. To freshen any type of nuts before you eat or use them, toast on a baking sheet at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Or, place nuts in a small bowl in the microwave, sprinkle with a little water, and heat on HIGH for 1-1/2 minutes.
Products to Help:
Food Saver or Seal-a-Meal products.
Lettuce Keeper by Progressive…available at kitchen/restaurant stores ($12-$15)…keeps lettuce up out of any moisture that may accumulate from condensation or washing, while still providing and airtight seal.
Bread Keeper by Fox Run Kitchens ($12-$15)…available on Amazon and some kitchen/restaurant stores…it is a “breathable” acrylic box (like a mini bread box) that is intended to keep just the right balance of moisture and air to keep the bread fresh longer.
The Blue Apple www.thebluapple.com ($9.95 two pack)…to help produce last longer by absorbing the ethylene gas that causes fruit and some veggies to oxidize and speed up the ripening process which then causes the food to breakdown faster. Available in Macey’s, Lee’s, Harmons.
Vacuware www.vacuware.com ($160)… This is a compact and space saving alternative to the FoodSaver style of vacuum sealers. It is engineered with their handheld pump and specially designed lids.
Quick Seals www.quickseals.com ($4.00 pack of 10)…this product has a clever ziplock option after it is adhered to the tops of bags or boxes with an adhesive.
Days Ago www.howmanydaysago.com ($5-$10)…this is a gadget that is a digital reminder of how many days it has been since you last did something, like placed a container of food in the refrigerator…it has both suction and magnetic options.
If you have any questions, contact Teresa Hunsaker at the Family and Consumer Science Education Department at the Weber County USU Extension office at (801) 399-8203 or online at www.extension.usu.edu/weber