Chucking away food that’s past its best can be disheartening. Many of us are filling our fridges fuller than ever before and it can be difficult to keep track of what we have and when it needs using up. We’ve shared some easy tips that will help your salad and veg last longer. Choosing a weekly or fortnightly local veg box can also act as a prompt to check on what you have and make sure you know what needs eating first.
Root vegetables have a natural outer layer for protection so if you buy washed vegetables they won’t last as long. We deliver root vegetables such as carrots, beetroots and potatoes with their soil on to keep them fresher for longer as well as to help lock in nutrients such as polyphenols, vitamins and flavonoids. Simply rinse the vegetables and use your fingers or a wooden vegetable brush to remove the soil before preparing or cooking. You can buy wooden vegetable brushes from Stroud Valleys Project or Loose on Stroud High Street.
Some vegetables, such as ‘washed’ bagged salads, are commercially cleaned in a chlorine solution. However, it is now recommended that all salads and vegetables, even those labelled as ‘pre-washed’, are washed again in water at home, so we would recommend avoiding commercial ‘pre-washed’ salads and choosing local, seasonal food from ethical producers if you can.
We’re fanatical about restoring and maintaining the health of the soil on our farm and regularly look at worm counts, probe depth, root depth and rhizosheaths. We’re also working towards our organic certification so you can rest assured that the earth you’ll find on some of our veggies is good earth.
Freezer of love
In the fight against food waste, your freezer is your best friend. You may be surprised by how many vegetables you can freeze. Freezing fresh vegetables helps to retain their nutrients and can also reduce your meal prep time. You can freeze fresh chillies and ginger and then grate from frozen straight into your cooking. Other vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beans, peas, asparagus and Brussels sprouts benefit from being blanched before freezing. To blanch, simply cook in boiling water for 1-3 minutes and then place in iced water. Dark leafy greens such as kale, chard and spinach can be blanched (which will save some freezer space) or frozen fresh. Tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and squash can be placed straight in the freezer. You can also double up on your cooking and then freeze half to use as homemade ready meals at a later date.
Buying direct from a local farm or local farmers’ market
Most fresh vegetables contain between 65 and 95% water when they are harvested. This starts to evaporate as soon as they are dug up or picked. Local vegetables will usually be fresher, more nutritious, taste better and last longer. The salad, flowers and vegetables we sell each week at Stroud Farmers’ Market have been harvested the day before and the veg for our veg boxes is always freshly picked and the best of what is in season. We are on a mission to make regeneratively farmed, nutritious food available and affordable for our local community.
Keep your herbs fresh
To keep your soft herbs such as basil, parsley, coriander and mint fresher for longer, treat them like flowers. Remove the packaging, then trim the stems and place them in the fridge in a jam jar, glass or small vase with a couple of centimetres of water.
Re-root your roots
Root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, squash and beetroot will last longer if they are kept in a dark, cool cupboard rather than in the fridge. It has been shown that if you store potatoes at 6-10 degrees (a little warmer than the fridge) they will maintain more of their vitamin C content and last for longer.
If food in your fridge is going off too quickly or feeling slightly frosty, it’s worth checking the temperature. The ideal fridge temperature is between 3 and 5 degrees.
Ignore best-before dates
Best-before dates on vegetables and salad don’t tell you that the food is unsafe to eat (unlike use-by dates on meat or fish that could be dangerous to eat after a certain time). Use your senses to tell you if your vegetables and salad are still good to eat and forget about the best-before dates. We love Melissa Hemsley’s ‘Anything Goes’ Fridge Raid Frittata for using up veggies that have seen better days – we’ve also found it freezes really well.
If you have tips on how you make your vegetables and salad last longer, we’d love to hear them. You can get in touch here.