Dave and I are constantly looking for ways to reduce waste and make cooking at home easy to do as much and as flexibly as possible. Some things I’ve known forever, like that you can ripen bananas by putting them in a paper bag, and then when they are too ripe, you can freeze them and use them for baking and smoothies. But as I’ve gotten more interested in food science and cooking, I’ve learned a few new tricks:
– It’s not easy being a green. Salad greens not only wilt quickly in your fridge, but they also negatively affect the produce around them. The best way to store salad greens and to keep them around as long as possible is to wash them, dry them, tear them up into salad-sized pieces, and store them in a plastic container with a damp paper towel. I have no idea why this works, but it does, and it has dramatically reduced the amount of salad green waste in our house! Plus, you’ve already done most of the work in making a lunch salad in the morning.
– Dough freezes beautifully. For this reason I almost never make only one recipe – it’s absolutely worth the time to make two recipes and freeze some of it. I’ve done it with puff pastry, pizza dough – you name it. It is such a relief to know that you have pizza dough already made just in case you need something for dinner. Just make sure you double-layer it to make sure it’s totally water and airtight – I do one layer of plastic wrap, then a layer of foil over top. Then I write the date and what it is on the foil in sharpie.
– Store leftover avocado with its pit to keep it fresher longer. Nifty, right? Again, I have no idea the science behind this, but when an avocado turns brown, it’s not rotting, it’s oxidizing – the same thing that happens to apples and pears if you leave them out. This is a surface area thing only – if you slice of 1/16 of an inch off the brown part, there is bright green avocado underneath. The magic also works for guacamole. This tip actually comes from an old roommate who worked for Applebee’s once upon a time, and apparently that is a common practice of theirs.
– Make rice ahead of time, always. Everybody knows that rice takes way too long to make, so having it ready ahead of time is going to make your life a lot easier. It actually will freeze OR keep in the fridge really, really well. And, many recipes – fried rice for example – are actually much better when made with leftover rice.
– Never, ever put tomatoes in the refrigerator. Will they stay firm and red longer? Yes, but they will taste like cardboard and the insides will become mush. Something about their chemistry just makes the flavor totally disappear when they come in contact with cold – it’s why they are always on separate tables at the grocery store.
What are your best food storage tips?