By Tessa Clarke, co-founder of sharing app OLIO.
With the cost of living rising at its fastest rate in 30 years, and the climate crisis feeling more real than ever, there’s never been a better time to learn more about food storage hacks.
This could make a real difference given the average UK family throws away £730 of food that could’ve been eaten each year; and collectively we in our homes throw away 4.4 million potatoes, 2.7 million carrots and 1.2 million tomatoes every single day.
Check out the top tips below to save money and the planet through storing food more efficiently.
TOMATOES — Should be stored in a bowl on the counter top rather than in the fridge as they tend to go ‘mealy’ in the fridge
POTATOES —Prefer to be kept in a cool, dark, dry place (avoid plastic) and unwashed until you use them. They should never be stored with onions, as onions accelerate their sprouting. Stored properly potatoes can last for several months
APPLES — Work well in a fruit bowl, but any bruised apples should be quickly removed as they give off more ethylene — it really is true that “one bad apple spoils the bunch”
BANANAS — Also give off ethylene which accelerates their ripening. To slow this down, simply pop a beeswax wrap or tin foil hat on the top of a bunch to give them a couple of extra days
BREAD — To make your bread last longer, buy whole loaves rather than sliced, and wrap them in reusable cotton bags or plastic and store in an airtight container on the countertop. Perhaps the most effective way to store bread though is in the freezer, so you can just pull out a slice or two whenever you need it
CAKE — Keep your cakes moist by storing them with a slice of bread on top of them; the bread will dry out (and can be used for breadcrumbs) but the cake will stay lovely and moist
WINE — Freeze the ends of a bottle of wine in jam jars then pull one out whenever you’re cooking a risotto, or making a stew or gravy
AVOCADO — Pop a slice of onion in a Tupperware with an opened avocado and it will prevent the avocado from going brown. Or alternatively rub the open side with lemon juice. For your guacamole, simply spray it with a light layer of lukewarm water to prevent the air making contact and so keeping it fresh longer
HERBS — Should be stored like flowers, so in a jar of water on your countertop. Another option is to store them in Tupperware with a damp cloth/piece of kitchen towel in the fridge. Or if you want them to last even longer you can chop and freeze them in an ice-cube tray in oil or water (depending upon whether you want to use them for a stir fry or stew); or freeze them on a tray before bagging up for later
DAIRY PRODUCTS — Store them at the back of the fridge where it’s coldest to give maximum shelf life, not the door. Milk and cream can both be frozen, although make sure to freeze the bottles ¾ full to allow for expansion
BERRIES — Give them a quick rinse in a water & vinegar solution (1 part vinegar to 10 parts water) then pat them super dry and store in the fridge to stop them going mouldy so quickly
CELERY — Wrap in tin foil and store in the fridge to keep it nice and crisp
LEMONS — Lemons keep well at room temperature for about a week. However pop them into a sealed plastic bag or container in the fridge and they’ll last 4 times longer than when kept at room temperature
HONEY — When stored in a sealed glass jar in a cool, dark place, honey can last forever. However if it does crystallise, just pop the jar in some warm water and it will liquefy again, just like magic
EAT ME — It can work wonders by having an ‘eat me’ shelf in your fridge so you know everything there needs to be eaten soon before it goes off
And finally, if you know you’re not going to eat something in time, then why not make a neighbour’s day by giving it away on the OLIO app instead? Half of all food added is requested in less than 30 minutes!
About the expert
Tessa Clarke is the co-founder of sharing app OLIO.
OLIO is a local community app that connects neighbours with each other to help them share more, care more and waste less. It has had successful shares in 61 countries in the world. OLIO is well known for its work in tackling food waste, linking neighbours and businesses to share surplus food that would otherwise go to waste. Half of all food added to the app is requested within 21 minutes of posting. A year ago it launched an initiative with all 2,700 of Tesco’s stores, taking food nearing the end of its shelf life and redistributing it locally via volunteers known as Food Waste Heroes. There are now over 35,000 Food Waste Heroes operating in the UK. Since launch OLIOers have shared 34 million portions of food, which has had an environmental impact equivalent to taking 101 million car miles off the road, has saved 5 billion litres of water and has prevented 29k tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions. Since its launch five years ago, OLIO has broadened its offer to include the free sharing of household items such as toiletries, kitchen appliances, books, clothes and toys; as well as providing guidance on how to live more sustainably via its GOALS feature, which provides prompts on how to live in a more planet-positive way.