It can seem like once tender greens and fresh herbs are brought home they can expire quickly, which leads to an all too common kitchen waste issue. With a bit of simple know-how and a small amount of extra care, herbs and greens can keep well for several days up to a week or more.
Proper Food Storage Minimizes Waste
Just like cut flowers, fresh cut herbs and leafy greens love to be hydrated from the stem. Make a fresh, clean cut to the stem ends, fill a jar with water and place your herbs in as if you are making a bouquet. You can keep them in the fridge this way, or leave them right out on the counter out of direct sun. I’ve found some herbs, like basil, actually do better at room temperature. You get to have the visual enjoyment of your fresh greens this way, too!
On the left in the photos above, is a bunch of basil that spent the day out in the wind and open air. It looked a little sad. On the right is the same bunch next morning, after it had been cared for as described above. Such a transformation. Just like new!
This method applies well to most greens, such as kale, basil, parsley, dill, pea shoots, chard, collards, and any other leaves with stems! For leaves without much of a stem, like spinach and arugula for example a shallow bowl with some water, stem ends submerged, works in the same way. Or a salad spinner is an excellent tool. Once you spin your greens, leave them covered in the spinner, refrigerated, and that bit of moisture will keep them crisp. If you don’t have the fridge space, wrapping them gently in a damp cloth and storing them in the crisper drawer in the fridge works well to maintain freshness.
Storing and Refreshing Other Types of Produce
For other fresh foods like carrots, beets, radish, fresh peas, hydration will also extend their freshness. These sugar snap peas were accidentally left uncovered in the fridge overnight and started to become soft. By soaking them in cold water for couple hours or so they were brought right back to juicy, crispy plumpness. Drain and store in a covered dish in the fridge. For roots like carrots, turnips, beets, radishes that have become soft, this same method will work just as well.
“American households waste approximately $1600 each year in produce (just produce!). Enough to pay for more than an entire month’s worth of groceries for a family of four.” RTS
Food waste is a huge problem worldwide, from farm to grocer to household. It’s empowering to have a few simple tools that allow us to make the most of the energy required to produce nutritious foods, and to no longer be a contributor to the problem. What types of foods tend to go to waste in your household? We can share some ideas!
Other resources for proper food storage and to learn more about food waste
A Guide to Commonly Wasted Foods and the best ways to store some of them – https://www.foodwise.com.au/foodwaste/ingredient-guide/
Worldwide Food Waste – “In the United States 30 per cent of all food, worth US$48.3 billion (€32.5 billion), is thrown away each year. It is estimated that about half of the water used to produce this food also goes to waste since agriculture is the largest human use of water.” – https://www.unep.org/thinkeatsave/get-informed/worldwide-food-waste
A third of the planet’s food goes to waste — here’s what we throw out the most – https://www.businessinsider.com/food-world-wastes-most-2016-10#7-milk-yogurt-and-cheese-171-1
The Most Wasted Types of Food in the World and Ways to Save Them From the Bin – “Each year, over a third of all food intended for human consumption is thrown away- enough food to feed all the world’s 800 million starving people twice over. ” – https://earth.org/most-wasted-types-of-food-in-the-world/