A recent column on the proper storage for fresh fruits and vegetables generated a lot of great reader feedback—plus dozens of new tips and tricks to make all grocery items last longer. I love this stuff so much, I must admit to being slightly compulsive—gathering, testing, and assessing techniques. Here are a few of my new favorites.
BerriesAre you familiar with that sick feeling that comes when you notice that the berries you bought yesterday are already showing signs of mold and turning brown? Here's the remedy: As soon as you bring them into the kitchen, prepare a mixture of 1 part vinegar (white or apple cider) and 10 parts water. Give the berries a bath in the mixture. Swirl them around a bit and then gently drain, rinse, and place in the refrigerator. Don't worry. The solution is so weak, you won't taste the vinegar. This treatment should give your strawberries an additional two weeks of useful life and raspberries a week or more. Vinegar retards the growth of bacteria that causes berries to spoil so quickly.
PotatoesTo keep potatoes from growing big, ugly sprouts before you have time to use them up, store them with a couple of apples. For some reason, that really works to halt the sprouting.
NutsRoast nuts and then store them in the freezer. This is for all kinds of nuts, even those that you plan to use in baking. Roasting improves the flavor and increases the useful life; freezing keeps them from turning rancid. As soon as you get home from the store, spread the nuts in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Place in zip-type freezer bags or jars with lids and then pop them into the freezer.
Disinfect the FridgeI plead guilty on this one. I just don't think about it if I can't see a mess. The truth is that any time something spoils in the refrigerator, it leaves behind mold that you can't see, which then attacks the new, fresh stuff that you put in there. Disinfecting the inside surfaces on a regular schedule will make everything last a little longer and smell a lot better.
Store Onions in PantyhoseOnce you get past the perceived gross factor, you'll be able to enjoy the fact that keeping your onions suspended in a pantyhose leg keeps them perfectly edible for up to eight months! If you don't have an old, ruined, clean pair of pantyhose lying around, buy a cheap pair from the dollar store. Cut off the legs from the panty part. Drop an onion into the toe and tie a knot. Drop in another onion and tie a knot. Repeat. This is great for storage because it keeps onions fresh, and it's easy to hang in your pantry or on a wall. Need an onion? With scissors, cut one off right below the lowest knot. See how that works? So cool.
Aluminum FoilLet me just say that I'm a believer! It drives me crazy that I don't know why this works, but it certainly does: Wrap celery, broccoli, and lettuce in a single layer of aluminum foil before storing in the refrigerator. Celery will stay crisp and fresh for up to a month stored this way. It's simply amazing.
MushroomsNever store these guys in a plastic bag because that traps moisture, which just encourages the growth of mildew. Instead, store mushrooms in a paper bag. Now the air can circulate and the mushrooms will remain dry and lovely for weeks.
Want more? Check out The Complete Guide to Storing Fruits and Vegetables at EverydayCheapskate.com/guide.