Don’t you just love a food hack? They are those top tips that help save you time, money and sanity. Here are some great fruit and veg hacks to extend the life of your food and delay another shopping trip, where you may be tempted to buy items you don’t really need.
We all know you should eat your 5 a day of fruit and veg – but they all seem to go off so quickly if you usually go to the shop once a week for a main shop. So, what can you do to keep your vegetables and fruit as fresh as they can be?
As this list for fruit and veg hacks starts off, remember that a fruit is something from a plant with seeds; if it doesn’t have seeds, then it’s a vegetable.
Veg hacks to cut back
To prevent the celery from wilting in the first place wrap it in foil and store it in the fridge. They can last for weeks stored this way.
As a bonus veg hack, if your celery has started to wilt then you can cut an inch or two off the stalk at the bottom and place the celery in a glass or vase of water. It will be revived within a few hours.
Apples stored with potatoes will prevent the potatoes from sprouting.
The ethylene gas produced by the apples is responsible for this life extension. However, it has the opposite effect on other fruits.
Nutrient depleted carrots
The green tops of carrots need nutrients to keep themselves green and full of life. They get their nutrients from the rest of the carrot, once the carrot has been harvested.
Cutting the tops off the carrots will help them retain their nutrients for longer.
Lettuce has a tendency to go limp quickly. It is mostly made up of water so they need plenty of it to stay crisp.
To prevent moisture from escaping wrap it in paper towel and then in a plastic bag.
To revive an already limp lettuce cut off any brown bits and place the leaves in cold water for a nice drink.
Asparagus needs moisture to survive or it becomes dehydrated and ‘rubbery’.
Put the stems in about an inch of water, or wrap in wet paper towel. Cover the spears with a plastic bag and store in the fridge.
Mushrooms are very porous and retain water. This can make them go slimy in a short space of time.
Storing them in a paper bag in the fridge will absorb the moisture. Mushrooms need to retain their existing moisture but prevent external moisture getting in.
Don’t store potatoes and onions together. They will spoil each other.
An easy veg hack is to store onions is in the legs of a pair of tights, with a knot between each onion. Just cut the knot when you need the onion. This allows air to circulate and prevents moisture.
Root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and beetroot are best kept in pots in sand in a cool dark place. A garage is good, if you have one.
Fruit hacks to save more
Berries tend to have a short shelf life but their life can be extended by rinsing them in a solution of 3:1 water to vinegar. Dry them as much as possible following the rinse. This will prevent mould forming so quickly.
At room temperature lemons soon shrink and become tough.
Storing them in the fridge will increase their lifespan and, if you store them in a plastic bag in the fridge, it will increase it even more, as it adds moisture, so prevents dehydration. They can last up to a month stored like this.
A favourite fruit hack – the best way to store them in the fridge is wrap them in paper towel and put them in a plastic bag.
Avocados can be placed in the fridge to slow down the ripening process and can be kept out of the fridge to speed it up.
You may only want to use half the avocado. If the avocado has been cut then olive oil and lemon juice can stop it from going brown.
Tomatoes should not be stored in the fridge. Storing in a fridge will make them tasteless.
When tomatoes are picked they are usually not ripe, to allow for time taken to get them to the shops. Putting a tomato that is not ripe in the fridge will stop the ripening process.
The full flavour of a tomato can only be appreciated when it is ripe.
To extend the life of a banana keep it in the bunch and wrap Clingfilm around the top of the bunch.
If they are already starting to brown they can be chopped and put into a plastic bag in the freezer. Once frozen they can be put into a blender and they make a tasty, healthy alternative to ice-cream.
Wasted half a pepper
If you want to spread the joy of a pepper over two meals then store the half pepper with the stalk and seeds in a plastic bag or container in the fridge.
5 a day made easier
Using these fruit and veg hacks will extend the life of your food can reduce the number of trips needed to the shops to just stock up on perishables. And we all know that’s not all we’ll leave the shop with!
Cutting out extra shopping excursions will save you money, prevent waste and allow you to make more meals for your money already spent.
Wendy is a writer and blogger for WR Editorial. She has been a lifelong saver, after growing up in a thrifty household. She is interested in leading a healthy lifestyle, without the huge price tag.