There’s something so sad, so shaming, so reminiscent of money (or gardening time) wasted when you look at a withered fruit or vegetable. There are so many snacks you could have made together, so many healthy sides you didn’t cook. Ah, well, next time. But this next time you’ll mean it, because you’re equipped with eight new tricks that will miraculously extend the life of your produce.
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Freeze lemon or lime juice in an ice cube tray
Sometimes lemons and limes run one dollar each, and sometimes it’s like some kind of citrus free-for-all, where you can get a cart-full for the same amount. Or maybe your backyard tree is producing an unbelievable amount. During these times of abundance, save! Squeeze lemons or limes into the squares of an ice cube tray so you can use them for months to come—in sauces, soups, or drinks.
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Isolate the trouble fruit
Fruits like apples, bananas, and peaches emit a gas called ethylene that will make your vegetables ripen more quickly, so store those fruits in their own area or container.
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Line the bottom of the crisper drawer
Ever wonder why your parents’ put paper towels on the bottom of the crisper drawer? Well, it wasn’t just because they had a compulsion for lining drawers; it’s because paper towels absorb moisture that can cause veggies to go bad prematurely.
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However, if you can’t be responsible about it, forget the crisper
The crisper is known by some as the graveyard of the refrigerator. Out of sight, out of mind, many pieces of produce—with so much potential!—have been placed in this drawer, only to wither and die. If this sounds familiar, forget your crisper and put your fruits and vegetables in produce baggies on shelves that are in your sightline so you can’t forget them.
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Don’t be a fridge junkie
Different fruits and vegetables need different environments, and some thrive best at room temperature. So keep your avocados, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and sweet potatoes on the counter or in a drawer under it.
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Know the secret formula for freezing herbs
Most recipes call for only a tablespoon or a few branches of fresh herbs, and then most of us watch the rest of the bunch go to waste. This is a sad process wherein we repeatedly promise the herbs we’ll find another dish for them, then we break our promise, and dump the forgotten bundle in the compost bin. But Susan Belsinger, culinary herbalist, wrote in the Washington Post that the best way she’s found to retain the flavor of herbs is to chop them up and mix them with some oil, so that it becomes an “aromatic paste,” which she then freezes, ostensibly in airtight plastic baggies. She recommends this for herbs used in baking, soups, and sauces, including pesto and salsa verde.
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Learn carrot CPR
Resuscitate limp carrots by peeling them and then soaking them for a couple hours in ice water. They’ll soak up the fresh water and regain some snap.
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Only wash what you’re eating
Resist the temptation to wash fruits and veggies before you stick them in the fridge. No loopholes! If you’re only eating a portion of berries or grapes, only wash what you need. The added moisture from washing invites mold and spoiling.