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As much as 40 percent of food is wasted in the US every year, and limiting food waste can be a major money saver when it comes to healthy eating. Extend the life of your foods with these simple tips. Not only will you save money, you'll also maintain optimal taste and flavor.
1. Prevent wilting greens
Wash and dry your greens, then wrap in a few paper towels. The towels absorb any moisture that cause wilting.
2. Stop moldy berries
Store your berries in the original container – unwashed until you use them. You can also extend the life of your berries by briefly soaking in a mild vinegar rinse (3 parts water, 1 part vinegar), then draining and drying before storing in a breathable container (including the original box). Recipe to try: Strawberry Mascarpone Tart
3. Treat fresh herbs like flowers
Store upright in a glass or small vase filled with water. Or roughly chop them and place in an ice cube tray, and fill with water. Use as needed – one cube at a time - for fresh herb flavor. Asparagus also stay fresh stored "bouquet" style in the fridge.
4. Try some cheesecloth
While used for many household functions, cheesecloth is ideal for long term storage of hard cheeses. Remove the plastic or wax paper cover, rewrap completely in cheesecloth and refrigerate. The air circulation helps preserve freshness.
5. Place mushrooms in a dark, cool place
Wash and dry mushrooms, and put them in a brown paper bag poked with a few holes. Store in the fridge.
6. Separate potatoes and onions
While these are a natural combination in cooking, store them separately and don't mix them to avoid the potatoes from sprouting (leading to spoilage). And room temperature is best.
7. Store fruits and vegetables separately
Apples (and other fruits like pears, plums, and apricots) naturally release ethylene gas, which greatly speeds ripening and freshness of vegetables stored with them. Store your fruits and vegetables separately.
8. Avoid over-ripe bananas
Ethylene gas is also released from the top of a banana much. Wrap some plastic wrap around the top to slow ripening and boost freshness.
9. Keep garlic and onions in a dark storage place
Both garlic heads, onions, and shallots remain freshest when stored at room temperature, away from light. Use a brown paper bag, and leave on the countertop. For a more decorative look, use a bamboo steamer to store them all together.
Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD is NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor