Monday, January 28, 2013

Cheaper Food Bill - Making Your Fresh Veggies Last Longer

You can make your fresh veggies last longer in your fridge. You, Dear Reader probably need to know how to do this. Recent studies show that 1/3 to 1/2 of all produce grown goes to waste. Not all of that is household waste, but a lot of it is. Wasting all of this food is costing you a lot of money. What could you do with up to half of your food bill money to use another way?

Not only is all that wasted food costing you money, it is costing you the Earth. I already did a post explaining what a "carbon footprint" is. Well, if you waste a lot of food, then it makes your carbon footprint a lot bigger. That means you are making a big contribution to climate change. 

If you want to help save the Earth and your budget at the same time this blog post may help.

I hope you will use muslin, cheesecloth or other lint free towels instead of paper towels to do this.

When you get your groceries home from the store, you need to wash them off. Even if they are labelled "organic", that does not guarantee there are no pesticides on them. They have been sitting in the grocery before you got them and they don't want bugs crawling on their produce.

This post is going to be mostly about lettuce.

My first step is to run a sink of cold water. I add ice if necessary. I put one or two drops of dish soap in the water. Soap loosens up any oil based stuff, like pesticides, on your produce. I let the lettuce sit for a few minutes in the slightly soapy water and swish it once in a while. If you are very worried about pesticides, you need to swish it a lot and keep doing it.

I decide how to put the lettuce in the sink by how wilted, or not, it looks. If it is very wilted, I may leave it in one piece, attached where the roots were cut off, before I do much to it. The cut root area can help it take up more water to start with. 

If the lettuce looks fairly fresh, I strip the leaves from the root stub and put them in the ice water that way. If I have put the whole thing in, I strip off the leaves once it looks a bit fresher and let it soak more.

The ice water should rejuvenate the lettuce if it wilted any in the store or on the way home. If this process is new to you, it will amaze you to see how fresh looking the lettuce is.

Once you are satisfied with how fresh and clean your lettuce is, then you need to drain the water off of it. I am not that fast at getting the lettuce ready for the fridge, so I leave most of it sitting in the water so it stays fresh, while I work on a little at a time.

I use a collander to put a bit of lettuce aside to work on. I use the collander to let it drip and I shake the collander gently to encourage the lettuce to drip a little bit dry.

If you use a salad spinner, now is the time to use it. If you don't use a salad spinner, you need to use towels to gently pat the leaves fairly dry.

Once the leaves you are working on are a bit dry, you need a large plastic container to put them in. It needs to be lined with cloth (or paper towels) to keep the leaves dry in the fridge. Wetness is what makes your lettuce rot quickly.

Put one layer of leaves on top of the cloth liner of your plastic container. If you want your lettuce ready to eat, you can tear up the leaves by hand at this point. Do not use a knife to cut up your leaves, that will make them rot fast. They have plastic knives for cutting up lettuce and the ceramic knives might work also. I don't use them, but do mine by hand. I think they make the leaves rot a little faster, even if not as fast as metal.

Cover your first layer of leaves with a towel. Add another layer of leaves and cover that with a towel. Keep doing the same until your container is full. If too many leaves touch each other, especially towards the bottom of your container, they will rot faster.

Once you fill your container with lettuce, you need one last layer of towel to prevent the lettuce from touching the container lid. It is now ready to put in the fridge. 

This container of lettuce will last a surprisingly long time. I have had them make it past two weeks. That is unusually long. It will usually last past a week, however. As I mentioned in my posts about how to save money on your shopping, the less time you spend in the store, the less money you will spend.

Keeping your lettuce fresh at home and not needing to go to the store to buy more when it spoils before you finish eating it, will save you money. It will add up enough for you to notice after a while, as long as you don't squander your savings on something you don't really need. I hope you will use your savings to buy something for emergency preparedness.

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