Since the dawn of agriculture, humans have had the same problem: How to store food. Industrialized countries today thrive on refrigeration, but there are still many people for whom a daily trip to the market is necessary to have the freshest food.
Traditionally, people have stored their food by drying it, smoking it, salting it, preserving it with brine (salted water and spices) or pickling (vinegar and spices). The following are tips on how to keep food fresher longer using various intriguing methods and applications.
* One way to keep cake fresh longer is by placing half an apple in the cake tin or plastic storage container.
* Add an apple to a bag of potatoes, and the potatoes won’t bud as quickly.
* Celery wrapped in aluminum foil and kept in a refrigerator’s vegetable bin will keep for several weeks and still be crisp.
* Placing an apple slice in hardened brown sugar will soften it.
* Cottage cheese will stay fresher longer if stored upside down in the refrigerator. The position somehow slows oxidation, which is what causes cheese to sour.
* Store onions away from other vegetables, especially potatoes. When stored close together, they produce gases that cause both to ripen and spoil. Keep onions in an open-mesh bag or basket for plenty of air circulation. Always keep onions in a cool, dry place.
* Sweet peppers can be stored up to a week in the refrigerator. Hot peppers are best dried and stored.
* Sweet corn loses its sugar content rapidly, so that the kernels turn starchy. Use or freeze as soon as possible.
* Don’t wash sweet potatoes or store them in the refrigerator. Kept in a cool, dry, dark place, sweet potatoes will keep as much as four months.
* Cabbage heads should keep for several weeks in the vegetable crisper of a refrigerator. To keep for longer periods, consider pickling cabbage into homemade sauerkraut.
* Eggs should be stored in the refrigerator. If they are kept for too long, check for garden cup freshness before using. This can be done by immersing the eggs in cool, salty water. Fresh eggs will sink to the bottom of the pan, pot or bowl, while rotten eggs will float. If the egg floats, throw it out.
* Never eat or cook moldy fruit. Mold on fruit goes deep into the flesh, unlike mold on cheese. If fruit has molded, throw it away.
* Never soak mushrooms in water. Mushrooms are like sponges: They’ll soak up the liquid and turn mushy. Instead, wipe them clean with a paper towel lightly dampened with water or the juice of a quarter of a lemon. Lemon juice will keep the mushrooms from discoloring.
* Potatoes should never be refrigerated. Instead, they should be kept in a cool, dry, dark place, preferably a root cellar. The temperature should be between 45 and 50 degrees F. Do not rinse the potatoes prior to storing and avoid packing them too tightly. Mature potatoes can be stored a maximum of two months. New potatoes should be stored only a week.
Check on stored potatoes regularly and remove any that have sprouted, shriveled or softened.