Annually, the UK chucks away 7 billion tonnes of food. When you look on a house-to-house basis, £470 worth of food is being wasted every year in each household. Nowadays we’re pretty hot on our food storage knowledge, but this data suggests we could be doing much better.
Supermarkets are starting to (slowly) adapt to the idea of reducing plastic wastage. Waitrose is currently trialling stores with refillable options for foods such as alcohol, rice and cleaning materials, Morrisons has an initiative to ditch the unnecessary plastic on vegetables and Aldi will soon be trialling loose vegetables. A third of us say we’d prefer to bring our own containers into the store instead of buying pre-packaged food. But a big part of being more environmentally conscious is not wasting the food you buy – especially as it’s often shipped from overseas at the cost of a big carbon footprint.
Storage experts Space Station
have found that correctly looking after our fresh food could reduce waste by an amazing 50%. To help us get there, they’ve created a list of tips to keep food fresher for longer.Fruit and Veg
Proximity is often overlooked, but hugely important. Keeping fruits and vegetables stored too closely together is a common mistake that can lead to food going bad. Build-up of the chemical compound ethylene will cause them to go off. Apples, melons, apricots, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, peaches, pears, nectarines, plums, figs, and other fruits and vegetables should be kept separate as these produce the most ethylene.
If you’re one of the 52% that prefer not to buy frozen fruit and veg, keeping any excess product in an airtight container in the freezer will ensure no food gets wasted.
As soon as you get home, wash your cucumbers straight away. Then carefully dry them, either wrapping them in a tea towel or in kitchen roll and pop them in the fridge. Excess water is a cucumbers’ worst enemy as it leads to them going bad even quicker.
Netting for lemons, oranges and limes is very dangerous to sea life and birds. These types of fruits should always be bought loose if possible. They should then be kept in the fridge and, if citrus starts to turn, slicing them up and freezing them will make great ice cubes for drinks.
Meat and Fish
38% of those asked believed freezing meat after it has been cooked is dangerous, but this is a total myth. It’s absolutely safe as long as it’s re-heated properly. Meat and fish can be stored in containers in the freezer, for the two thirds of us (64%) who don’t want to buy frozen meat, which will save money and avoid waste. Store all frozen food in containers with labels that clearly state the date the items were frozen, as meat should be eaten within three to six months.
Ripening and Sprouting
The trickiest of all the fresh produce - bananas are a bad influence on all other fruit, as they release a gas that can cause other fruits to go off more quickly. Consider using a banana tree to keep them separate and minimise bruising. Or a mug tree can work just as well.
Tomatoes and avocados should be stored outside of the fridge until they are ripe. Then storing them inside it will help keep them at that state for longer.
In contrast, Onions, potatoes and shallots should be stored in a cool dark place to keep them fresh, such as in a wicker basket in a cupboard or a cellar. Avoid storing these products in plastic bags as this encourages spoilage. A clever hack to keep onions fresh is storing them hung up in an old pair of tights in a cool, dry place. Once cut, onions should be stored in a zip-lock bag in the fridge where they will last for around a week or stored in tupperware and kept in the freezer.
A great hack for storing fresh basil and herbs is to chop the leaves in a food processor and place into an ice cube tray with a little olive oil and store in the freezer. When basil is needed for a dish, just pop in a ready-made ice cube.
Other tips involve buying everyday items like toilet roll that aren’t packaged in plastic. Space Station has more tips on recycling and living sustainably here. Have you learnt something new here? Let us know via email or on social media. Or if you think you’re already a pro you can test your knowledge with the food storage quiz here
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