There’s nothing more frustrating than prepping your salad only to realize your three-day-old lettuce is already wilting, or reaching for a handful of berries that are already a little moldy (especially when you realize it too late). Expired produce is a major source of food waste, not to mention a waste of your hard-earned cash. No need to resign yourself to a dry-food-only diet, though. These food hacks will keep your produce, dairy, and grains fresh all the way up to their best-by date!

1. Brush avocado halves with lemon juice, lime juice or olive oil.

The citric acid in lemons helps keep a half-cut avocado from browning. Olive oil has the same effect – it keeps the avocado protected from oxidation from the air.

2. Don’t wash your produce before you put it in the fridge.

Believe it or not, most (with the exception of berries) produce shouldn’t be rinsed before it goes in the fridge because it’ll deteriorate sooner and potentially get moldy if it’s damp. Just don’t forget to wash before you eat!

3. Berries can benefit from a vinegar and water bath.

To prevent your berries from molding prematurely, quickly wash your berries in a solution of three cups water and one cup vinegar, then rinse and dry them thoroughly. This will kill the bacteria before they hit the fridge. 

4. Place asparagus upright it water.

Cutting the bottom part of the stems off of the asparagus and then placing the stalks in a cup of water (about an inch worth) can help maintain freshness and firmness while in the refrigerator. You can cover it with a clean plastic bag to maximize freshness for at least a week.

5. Store milk in old-fashioned glass bottles & NOT in the refrigerator door.

Glass bottles do a better job of sealing that cardboard cartons, plus they get colder, meaning your milk can stay cereal-ready for as long as possible. Keeping milk in the fridge door is also bad news for its shelf life, because they’re too far away from the cooling element. Instead, keep it on an inside shelf (no matter how convenient your fridge door’s milk spot is).

6. Store your fruits and vegetables separately.

Fruits that emit high levels of the gas ethylene (think apples and bananas) ripen other fruits and vegetables quickly, shortening the shelf life of all of your produce. Minimize the problem by storing fruits and veggies in their own drawers in the fridge or in separate areas on the countertop.

7. But, you can keep an apple with your potatoes.

Strange, but true. Try adding an apple to a sack of potatoes because the ethylene in the fruit will actually keep the taters from sprouting.

8. Cut the tops off your carrots.

Even though farmer’s market carrots are undeniably prettier with their leafy green stems, the leaves of root veggies steal their nutrients even after they’ve been picked. This goes for beets, too. Do your carrots a favor and chop ‘em off before you put them in the fridge. Or, if you are purchasing baby carrots, try placing them in a bowl of water to maintain freshness. 

The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public’s health. TSET. Better Lives Through Better Health.

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