Sense-checking fruit and vegetable hacks to help reduce food waste
The hack: putting kitchen paper in bags of salad to absorb condensation
The verdict: the jury’s out on this one — it would probably work, but getting rid of moisture isn’t the best goal when it comes to salad.
Whether it’s mixed bags of salad leaves or spinach and rocket, leafy salads are super-versatile. But, they can easily be lost at the back of the fridge or rot quickly once moisture is introduced.
One popular TikTok hack suggests putting a sheet of kitchen paper in a bag of salad to absorb the moisture and keep it fresher for longer, but our experts say there are better ways to make bags last.
The most important factor when it comes to salad leaves is ventilation, as well as a bit of moisture. Putting the leaves into a well-ventilated storage container would be ideal to make sure there is sufficient air flow. If you’re worried about too much moisture, we’d suggest using a clean tea towel at the bottom of the container as a more sustainable alternative to kitchen paper.
The hack: storing peeled carrots in water in the fridge
The verdict: there are better ways to keep carrots fresh.
This hack is supposed to make carrots stay crunchy for longer in the fridge. The idea is that you peel them, then submerge them in water.
Scientifically, this doesn’t quite hold up. Peeling or cutting carrots actually breaks the cell wall, which reduces the amount of nutrients you’ll get when eating them – not very appealing! A better option would be to store the carrots whole in the fridge. If they do go soft, they can be revived by placing them in water for a short time with the top and end removed, before preparing them for cooking or eating.
If you’re looking to reduce your food waste further, here’s a great recipe to turn your carrot peelings into a tasty snack using an air fryer.
The hack: washing soft fruits in water with bicarbonate of soda
The verdict: this hack won’t be winning awards any time soon.
We can’t wait for summer when soft fruit is in season. But, there’s no getting away from the fact that berries can go soft very quickly, especially when the weather is warm.
This hack suggests mixing cold water with bicarbonate of soda, and leaving the berries to soak for 10 minutes before drying and chilling them. The first thing to be aware of is that if you’re watching American videos, they will call bicarbonate of soda ‘baking soda’. Make sure you don’t mix this up with baking powder – that’s not what you want here and definitely wouldn’t work.
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While this hack will clean the fruit, it won’t extend its fridge life. In fact, it will probably shorten it. If you try to wash your soft fruit, then put it in the fridge, the moisture will speed up the decomposition process and you’ll quickly be left with mush instead of berries – not what you want.
It’s a better idea to store soft fruit in the fridge and wash it straight before eating.
The hack: washing soft fruit in diluted vinegar
The verdict: we’ve got mixed feelings here.
This is another method for washing fruit rather than prolonging its fridge life. For this hack, you mix 1 tbsp white vinegar with 250ml cold water, and soak your fruit in it for 10 minutes before draining, drying and chilling.
Again, this might not be the best hack to try with soft fruit, but would work well for cleaning harder fruits, like apples and pears.
The hack: storing bunches of herbs with the stems in pots of water in the fridge
The verdict: we have a winner!
Herbs are great for adding an extra depth of flavour to recipes, such as our herby spring chicken pot pie and the zesty herby orzo & lemon salad. But, often when you buy herbs, they come in large bunches and you can be left with the surplus wilting in your fridge.
This hack works particularly well with herbs that have hardy, twig-like stalks, like mint, rosemary and dill. Fill a jar or glass with water and put the herbs in so the bottoms are submerged. Cover the leafy part of the bunch using a bag and store in the fridge until you need them.
Check out more tips on how to store different kind of herbs to keep them fresh.
The hack: soaking apple slices in water and apple cider vinegar
The verdict: this is a lunchbox exclusive kind of hack – otherwise, step away from the apple slicer.
Much like potatoes, apples quickly oxidise once cut, as the flesh makes contact with the air, causing them to go brown. By soaking apple slices in 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar mixed with 250ml water, the browning process can be halted.
We’d only recommend this hack if you’re putting apple slices in a lunch box to eat later the same day. Apples will last longest in the fridge if left whole, and if you like apple slices, you should cut the fruit directly before eating.
The hack: wrapping the stalks of tough vegetables in wet kitchen paper before storing in the fridge
The verdict: we’re generally in favour, but there are ways to make this hack more sustainable.
This works best on vegetables like asparagus and broccoli, and ensures that they still have access to some moisture, which means they last longer.
Using sheets of kitchen paper isn’t very sustainable, as they are single-use. A good alternative could be rolling a clean, damp tea towel around the base of these vegetables before putting them in the fridge.
The hack: remove grapes from the vine to stop the ripening process
The verdict: in the words of one of our food experts: “No, just no.”
We’ve seen the hack online, in which grapes are removed from the vine and put in a storage container to make them last longer. Not only is this time-consuming, but it isn’t an effective way to keep them fresh.
Grapes will last longest in the fridge. But, if they’ve started to go a bit soft or you’ve got a large quantity, frozen grapes make a great snack. Put your grapes (on or off the vine) in a freezerproof container, freeze, then remove from the freezer 10 minutes before eating. They’ll have a delightfully chewy texture that makes for a refreshing snack.
Why should we care about fruit and veg storage?
Aside from being good for you, fruit and veg form the foundation of thousands of recipes, and are a great way to enjoy the varying seasons.
But, a huge amount of food, including fruit and vegetables, is wasted every day. The latest fruit and veg shortage hasn’t helped matters, with shoppers facing empty shelves and many supermarkets placing limits on the amount of vegetables that you can buy.
With all this, it’s not surprising that more people are looking for ways to reduce food waste at home and make their fruit and veg last a little longer.
Here in the UK, we waste £1.17bn worth of fruit, veg and bread every year, according to research conducted by Sainsbury’s. Environmental charity WRAP estimate that a staggering 70 per cent of food waste happens in the home, amounting to nearly 4.5m tonnes every year.
And, that’s all without the cost of living crisis, which is continuing to put pressure on households, with everyday food items costing far more – such as potatoes, which cost 17.5 per cent more in December 2022 compared to a year earlier.
Best food storage lunch boxes and containers
Black + Blum stainless steel lunchbox
If you’re looking for a new lunchbox, we’ve got you covered.
This stainless steel option from Black + Blum is a good option if you’re looking to avoid plastic. The moveable divider means you can choose how big you’d like each section of the box to be, so you can keep your sandwich away from your apple slices. It comes with a stainless steel fork, which is secured to the outside of the box with a silicone strap that also keeps the lid secure to avoid any spillages.
3 Sprouts lion lunch bento box
If it’s a kids lunch box you’re looking for, we like this bento box option from 3 Sprouts. It has different sections for each part of the meal, plus a clip-on lid to prevent leaks.
Check out our articles on the best lunch boxes for adults and the best lunch boxes for kids.
IKEA 365+ glass storage container with lid
We like that these storage containers are glass rather than conventional plastic. The clear base and lid make it easy to see what’s inside, and they stack nicely, which will help keep your fridge organised, so you can see what you’ve got and hopefully cut down on waste.