The average NI family bins £500 worth of food every year...here are some tips to reduce food waste
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The average local family bins £500 worth of food every year – and as energy bills soar and consumer prices rise at the fastest rate seen in two decades campaigner Tessa Clarke from OLIO has some smart storage approaches to counteract the money drain and reduce food waste.
Tessa says: “Food waste is now a serious issue worldwide. Between 33-50% of all food produced globally is never eaten, and the value of this wasted food is worth over $1 trillion. To put that in perspective, in the US food waste represents 1.3% of the total GDP. Food waste is a massive market inefficiency, the kind of which does not persist in other industries.”
In the UK, for example, food waste worth £12.5 billion annually goes straight to landfill, Tessa continues: “Millions of people in the UK have become dependent of food banks. In the US, 40 million Americans live in food poverty,” she adds. And yet some 800 million people around the world go to bed hungry every night.“
Tessa and her OLIO team have put forward some ideas to reduce food waste and also to help in countering rising costs.
Potatoes should never be stored with onions, as onions accelerate their sprouting. Stored in a cool, dark, dry place 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 in a tinfoil hat or beeswax wrap on the top of a bunch to give them a couple of extra days.
Bread can be made to last longer by buying 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, however, is in the freezer, so you can just pull out a slice or two whenever you need it.
Cakes keep 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: Don’t store them on the door but at the back of the fridge where it’s coldest to give maximum shelf life. 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 and vinegar solution (1 part vinegar to 10 parts water), then pat them super dry and store in the fridge to stop them from going mouldy too quickly.
Celery: Wrap in tinfoil and store in the fridge to keep it nice and crisp.
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 four 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.
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.
Tessa adds: “And finally, if you know you’re not going to eat something in time, then think about giving it away on the OLIO app instead. Half of all food added is requested in less than 30 minutes.”
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