How to keep your food fresh during lockdown
Many of us are doing our best to go to the grocery stores at least once a week, or once every two weeks.
Staying home is the suggested best way of us avoiding infection, as well as frequent sanitising and making sure we wear protective gear like masks and gloves.
However, we are sometimes forced to go to the shops sooner than we had anticipated, simply because the food has spoiled quicker than we anticipated.
And this then leads to us unnecessarily wasting food. Food waste is a crisis the world over. We have seen images of farmers in the US, discarding potatoes, liquor is going down drains and also we are throwing away food in our homes, thanks to unnecessarily bulk buying.
World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA) reports that South Africans waste one-third of all food in the country – approximately 10 million tonnes of food a year. Vegetable and fruits comprise 44% of this food wastage. And one of the main reasons for this is that we don’t store our food effectively.
With the slew of precautionary measures being taken to avoid contracting the Coronavirus, how to keep eating fresh, could take on a whole new meaning.
“It’s not just about eating fresh for health’s sake, a healthy body means a healthy mind. Now that we find ourselves heading into lockdown, we need to look at healthy eating in different ways. This means preparing food well and keeping it fresh for longer," says Charmagne Mavudzi, Volvo’s head of marketing and communications.
Here are some tips on increasing the shelf and fridge life of food.
Store items in breathable bags
Using natural cotton bags (muslin) can extend the lifespan of your fruit and vegetables, as it allows them to absorb moisture and air. When kept in sealed bags, fresh produce breaks down and goes rotten quicker. Breathable bags keep fruit and vegetables crisp and fresh for longer.
Separate your bananas
Separating a bunch of bananas and wrapping each stem in cling wrap extends their lifespan. By wrapping the crown of a bunch, you slow down the ripening process.
For optimum results, separate the bananas and wrap them individually. You can also slice them up and rest the cut sides in lemon juice to prevent browning.
Leave tomatoes out of the fridge
People often make the common mistake of storing tomatoes in the fridge.
Not only is this unnecessary, but it actually reduces the flavour of the tomatoes and makes their texture deteriorate more quickly.
Instead, put them in a bowl that you have lined with a paper towel. If you have bought stemmed tomatoes, ensure the stems are at the top when you place them in the bowl.
You can also keep avocados, bananas, peaches, nectarines, pears and plums on the counter until they are ripe, then toss them into the fridge if you’re not yet ready to eat them.
Keep your food fresher for longer, from Celebrity Chef Jackie Cameron
“Try and keep chicken and meat as dry as possible”, says Cameron “Always put paper towels at the base then cover with plastic.
If something is in your fridge, change this paper once a day so as to remove excess moisture.
Make sure your fridge temperature is set correctly and resist opening and closing your fridge, as this continuous fluctuation of temperature will affect items.
And finally, I find when getting in items like lettuce and rocket, only open the packet at the last minute to preserve crispness”
Take time to prepare your food, says clinical dietitian Kath Megaw
“The wonderful qualities of our fruit and vegetable family is that it is great eaten raw and even greater eaten cooked,” says Kath Megaw clinical dietician.
“Vegetables cooked, activate the anti oxidants, so cooking and freezing vegetables is a wonderful option that will kill any nasties as well as allow for antioxidants to be preserved.
"Washing the skins of fruit in white wine vinegar and then peeling the fruit will offer double protection” she points out.
“While you may lose a bit of fibre in the process, fruit as a whole has an abundance of soluble fibre. Peel, cut and freeze your fruit immediately and you won’t lose any major quantity of vitamins,” she concludes.
Not everything is equal in the freezer, says Woolworths
According to the food retailer’s article titled Freeze Frame, some foods freeze well and others don’t.
Whole eggs can’t be frozen, but egg whites do freeze well; freeze in a bag or plastic container and use the eggs to make meringues, cakes, soufflés, or omelettes.
Other items not to freeze are fruit and vegetables with a high water content, such as lettuce, cucumber, celery, apples, and watermelon, as they will lose their structure and become mushy. Also avoid freezing dairy products such as soft cheese, cream cheese, custard and yoghurt.