Food Going Bad Quickly? Here's How to Fix It

By Amanda Meadows on 15 May 2015 0 comments

Ever remember that you have delicious leftovers or fresh veggies in the fridge, only to discover rolling hills of mold covering their surface? It's the worst and it's time to learn how to prevent rapid food spoilage. Keeping food fresh for longer saves money — and it's easy.

1. Store Fresh Produce Correctly

Do you place different types of produce in different areas of the kitchen, or do you shove everything in the crisper drawer? Here's how to store them best.

Greens

These go in your vegetable crisper. Be sure to keep them at the top, never stacking heavy veggies on top of lettuces and baby greens.

Vegetables

Remove rubber bands and twist ties. Be sure to trim leafy ends and wash the veggies. Place in a clean bag with air holes punctured for air flow. Give them a space in the crisper or the bottom shelf of your fridge.

Fruit

Do not store fruit and vegetables together — a gas called ethylene accumulates, attracting bacteria too quickly. Stone fruits, apples, pears, and melons should all be left to ripen on the countertop. Oranges and all citrus, bell peppers, and most berries should be refrigerated immediately. And because bananas ripen fastest, place them near any other fruit you'd like to ripen faster, such as apples or pears.

Roots

Basic roots like onions, potatoes, beets, and turnips should stay outside in their own basket. Once they have been cut, store them in a Tupperware in the fridge.

2. Store Leftovers Immediately

Do you normally let dinner cool on the stove after eating? That actually allows bacteria to accumulate faster, giving it a head start before entering the colder, less hospitable fridge environment. For best results, store food while it's still piping hot. Build time into dinner prep to immediately pour a portion of leftover food into storage containers and throw into the fridge.

3. Use Natural Preservatives

There's no need to go out and buy antimicrobials and antifungal chemical preservatives unless you are cooking for large groups. For home cooking, here are a few simple ways to keep food from spoiling without resorting to pickling everything:

Brining (or Salting)

Have a whole bird or large cut of meat and worried you might not get to it in time? Freezing is only good if you have the right containers to prevent freezer burn. Try brining your meat by coating it in salt. This pulls water from bacterial cells, killing the bacteria which cannot live without moisture.

Sugaring

Similar to brining, sugaring also pulls moisture from bacterial cells, making food safer to eat for a very long time. This is great for fruits, making delicious snacks out of fruit you may not have had enough time to eat fresh.

Citric Acid

Lemon and lime juice are a godsend for fruits and vegetables that have already been cut and are vulnerable to browning or spoiling. From guacamole to pre-made salads, use plenty of lemon or lime juice that not only adds vitamin C and brightness to your food, but also stalls the spoiling process for a day or two.

4. Sweep the Refrigerator

It's smart to take stock of the fridge once a week and clean it out. Here what to look for.

Other Rotten Food

If there is anything rotting in your fridge, get rid of it immediately. The gases coming from those bacteria flourishing in nearby rotting foods could be spoiling your fresh food by proxy.

Cleaning

For the same reasons as above, random condiment smears, beverage spills, and other grime attracts bacteria and fungus along the surfaces inside your refrigerator. Be sure to clean any food residue from the surfaces regularly.

Temperature

Be sure that your fridge is cold enough to prevent fast bacteria growth, but not so cold that it freezes fresh food (which can ruin most fresh produce by the time you want to eat it).

5. Sterilize the Tupperware Regularly

One of the easiest things you can do is also one of the easiest things to forget: keeping Tupperware clean. If things get really bad, sterilize containers by soaking them in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.

Are you still bothering with flimsy plastic containers? It can be difficult to remove mold spores from plastic, so invest in some more durable and less porous glass containers. They are not only easier to clean, but are safer to store food for much longer than their plastic counterparts.

How do you keep your food fresh for longer?

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