4 Ways to Better Store Your Food (and Nutrients!)
I think you deserve a high five and a “Great job!” thrown your way. Not because you hit your sales numbers at work or gave yourself an amazing blowout (all by yourself!) or shuttled your kids around to basketball practice and Spanish class and cello lessons and still snuck in a few workouts (not that those things don’t deserve praise also!).
But because you made it to the market. And now you have fresh food at home! In the super busy, overstimulated world we live in with a million forms of obligations, distractions and entertainment pulling us one way or another, it certainly is a almost like a Herculian achievement in this day and age. It might not always seem like the most fun use of your time, buy boy is it important. So high five again!
When I was living in NYC I was among the few people that I knew that actually regularly went food shopping. And my significant other admitted before I started cooking dinner every night that he hadn’t had a home cooked meal in over a decade (except for Thanksgiving and decadent holiday fare). So don’t take such efforts for granted. They are in fact… awesome! I am so very happy for you and want to remind you what a wonderful job you are doing.
Okay, so you have great food at home, and you are ready to nourish yourself and your loved ones. But now that you’ve spent all the time and effort to get that wonderful food from the store or farmer’s market into your bags and car (or bike, or in a cart to truck on home with, as I used to do myself in New York City!) and into your fridge, it’s important that we honor that effort and the bounty from the earth and store those foods in the best possible way.
How awful to go to all that effort and have the foods spoil to an extent- or have the nutrients diminish in some way! For instance, researchers at Penn State recently studied the effects of storage on the nutrient content of fresh spinach.
Spinach stored at cooler temperatures in the fridge retained 53% of its folate after eight days. Research from the International Journal of Chemical and Biomolecular Science has shown a decline in vitamin C in fruit after 7 days. These days and nutrient declines could be further accelerated with improper storage.
In contrast, it adds to better taste and respect for your efforts and the foods to preserve them in the best possible way.
Here I wanted to share some tips on how to preserve our magnificent food friends in the best possible ways, for maximum health and beauty nutrition…especially after your colossal effort in swinging by the market (after a ridiculously long work day with an extra hour of commuter traffic and it’s ‘friggin 15 degrees outside and your feet hurt from your pointy flats):
1) Fruits & Veggies: Besties in Your Glowing Green Smoothie But Store Separately!
I like to keep my fruit for the most part in the fridge, which helps to preserve the vitamin C and other more delicate nutrients. If I’m trying to ripen hard pears, for instance, I leave them on the counter.
Be sure to not mix and match your fruits and veggies. Keep them relegated to their own separate compartments, or crisper drawers in your fridge. Why?
Because fruits give off high levels of ethylene, which is a ripening agent. If you let the fruit hang out with your greens, it can lead to premature rot and spoilage of your veggies.
I usually have lemons, apples and other fruity friends chilling together in the top crisper, and the leafy greens like arugula, kale, cilantro, leafy romaine and some other veggies (if there is room for those guys) in the bottom one.
Look but don’t mix my friends! You guys will see each other soon in the Vitamix for your GGS and in my tummy ☺.
2) Keep Your Greens Happy!
First of all, don’t pack all your greens in as tightly as the clothes in your tiny college dorm closet (remember that?!).
They need space to breathe and stretch out like yogis! Otherwise they will rot faster and get brownish and slimy. That obviously shows they are not happy.
I admit that when I’m super busy (which is most of the time, now especially with Bubs and all!), I just try to carefully not over pack my crisper and consider that a triumph for a job well done.
Buuuut, if you want to go the extra mile(s) to get the ultimate greens storage technique, then here it is: remove your greens and soak them whole in a big bowl or sinkful of water. Then drain out the water and lay them out in a thin layer on clean kitchen towels (or flour sack towels, which are larger).
Roll the towel up tightly and secure it with a rubber band on each end. This method allows the leaves to dry and keep moisture away from them so they stay fresher longer. Roll it out bit by bit, for as many green treasures as you use at a time.
Again, I can’t say that I do this that often myself these days, but it’s a good one to try out, especially if you only get to the market once a week or so and need to store your greens for longer time periods.
3) Food Friends That Like to Be Kept Outside of the Fridge
It’s not best for all our veggie and fruit friends to be thrown in the fridge. For instance, tomatoes (technically a fruit), have an aversion to colder temperatures (kinda like me!). If you put them in the fridge they can turn mealy and squishy, which is a real bummer and can make them downright repulsive for eating raw.
Same goes for basil. I learned this the hard way, after sadly wondering why all my basil turned brown so quickly (sad face). They too do not like the cold so much- we also have that in common!
Store them like flowers on the counter with the stems in fresh water. Change the water often. Ideally, cover your basil bouquet with a plastic zip-lock that is open at the bottom to help retain some moisture in there.
Potatoes should stay out as well- as cold temps can make the starch convert to sugar more quickly in potatoes, which can adversely affect their flavor and texture.
Lastly, if you have a rock hard avocado there is pretty much zero chance it’s going to ripen well in your fridge. No bueno there. Keep it out and let it get into a slightly mushy but not too mushy state.
Then you can move it in the fridge until your exact perfect moment to dive into that divine green luscious amazing joyful avo. Mmm, perfect!
4) What About Seeds and Nuts?
Nuts and seeds are amongst our top Beauty Detox Foods. Chia, sunflower, almonds, walnuts…hello amazing nutrients!
But these foods also have high amounts of delicate, mono and polyunsaturated fats that can become rancid quite easily from heat, light, and oxygen.
Rancidity is a humongous no-no, which means that not only do these beautiful nuggets of bounty from the earth start to taste bitter. It means that they do not digest well for us and their oils essentials become varying levels of toxic.
Lately, I’ve been eating a lot of pecans and walnuts, and I keep them in sealed jars in small amounts on the counter, where I can easily access them and refill them.
For nuts and seeds that I have larger quantities of (if I bought some in bulk in bins or whatever) I store them in the freezer in sealed containers to keep them and their nutrients as fresh as possible.
I wouldn’t keep them in there longer than 6 months though, so keep that in mind when buying in bulk. Bulk is good but massive bulk is not.
So there you have it. I hope that these tips helped inspire you to take the best possible care of your precious produce. You work hard to get fresh food and you deserve to get the most out of it!
Take great care of yourself and have a beautiful day. Remember you are special for being you. ☺
With great love,