Everyone in the world is going through a tough time and quarantine can be a daunting experience. I remember my trip to Trader Joe's a month back and how overwhelmed everyone (including me) were, trying to stock as much food supply as possible.
A few weeks back I had shared a Grocery list of my Instagram on what should be your top priority food items that you should be stocking. I was getting a lot of DMs on how one can increase the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables. So I decided to make a video to give you five tips to increase the shelf life of commonly used produce.
1. Cut and Freeze
This is probably the most easy technique. I personally use it for Banana and Berries, especially when banana reach their ripening stage. All you need to do is peel and cut some bananas and store them in a Ziploc bag. The fruits can last up to 2 months. I use them for my smoothie bowls.
Cooking tip: Freezing the banana and berries overnight makes gives your smoothie bowls thick and creamy consistency.
Blanching is a method that people use as a cooking technique. But this method is very useful for increasing the shelf life of vegetables like Broccoli, cauliflower, peas and corns. Blanching is an easy processing technique that can be done at home. All you need is boiling water, an ice bath, few zip lock bags, and the vegetable you wish to store.
i) Start by cutting (in case of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) or removing (in case peas and corn).
ii) Add the veggies in boiling water for 2 minutes.
iii) After the 2 minutes are up, transfer the vegetables to the ice bath.
iv) Keep it immersed in the ice bath for another minute.
v) Now, transfer the vegetables from the Ice bath to a clean cloth and gently pat the vegetables dry.
vi) Transfer the vegetables to a Ziploc bag and store it in the freezer.
3. Roll and store
This method is for the produce that is "notorious" for having a short shelf life: green leafy vegetables. These leafy vegetables, although packed with nutrients, can start wilting away in a day or two. The method I want to share will help extend the shelf life from 2 days to 7-10 days. But before we begin, a few things to keep in mind are that this method needs to be done as soon as you reach home after buying the green leafy vegetables. It is also important that you do not wash the vegetable as the moisture accelerates the microorganism activity. An additional step that you should do here is to sort the spinach that has gone bad and remove it from the bunch.
i) Take a paper towel.
ii) Spread your leafy veggies on the paper towel
iii) Now, gently start rolling the paper towel till you reach from one corner to another.
iv) Put in the refrigerator.
v) Whenever you need to use, take out the amount you want and wash it properly before using it.
4. Batch cooking (My favorite)
This method I recently started doing due to the Quarantine situation, but seeing how convenient it makes my cooking job, I might just carry on doing this for a long time. Now, I mostly cook Indian food and most of the Indian meals have a common masala base of onion, ginger, garlic and tomato. Here, the former three can have a high shelf life if stored properly. However, tomatoes do not last more than 5-7 days even when refrigerated. So why not prepare the masala paste in bulk and freeze it?
i) Peel and roughly chop the onions, garlic and ginger.
ii) Blend it in a food processor till smooth
iii) Now, take a cooking vessel (preferably with a flat bottom) and add cooking oil to it.
iv) Add the onion mixture to the cooking vessel
v) Meanwhile, take your tomatoes, roughly chop and blend them in a food processor
vi) Once the onion mixture starts giving out the oil and becomes golden brown, add your tomato puree. (Be careful, the mixture may splatter)
vii) Cover the vessel and let it cook for 7- 10 minutes on low flame. You will know the mixture is cooked when you can no longer smell the rawness.
viii) Increase the flame and start evaporating the excess moisture.
ix) At this point, you can also add some salt. This will remove any excess moisture in the mixture and also act as a natural preservative.
x) Let it cool
Storage: You can store the masala mix in a container or a Ziploc bag. I personally like to store them in an ice tray as it saves time thawing the whole mixture in bulk and also controls the portion size.
This is another method that you can use if you are trying to increase the shelf life of your produce. I personally love pickling certain seasonal vegetables. Back in India, vegetables like beetroot and carrot hardly come for 4 months. So, I pickle these seasonal vegetables and enjoy it for the rest of the year. They go so well with veggie wraps or shawarma. I am sharing the recipe of pickled beetroot here.
I am also sharing a printable PDF for the same: RECIPE