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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Keep Food Fresh Longer - Easy Tips

Now is the "prime time" for fresh food. At least here in Pennsylvania, there's no time of the year like the present when all manner of freshly-grown produce is abundantly available. The sources, also, are multiple -- you have whatever one grows in one's garden, you have farmer's markets, you have roadside fruit and vegetable stands, and of course, plenty to choose from in local grocery stores.

It really does seem, however, that the more "organic" the produce, the more rapidly it tends toward a state of not-so-fresh. This would apply equally to home-grown vegetables which where never subjected to pesticides or synthetic fertilizers as it does to homemade bread. These things are best eaten almost immediately, if possible, because otherwise, the clock seems to be ticking in overdrive.

And there's an additional problem, especially this time of year, if your foodstuffs are very whole, natural and organic, and actually even if they're not really fresh but in dried form. Humans won't be the only ones to whom fresh or high-quality food will appeal; ants, for instance, are very active foragers, and few houses (that don't spray toxic pesticides everywhere) are totally immune to their intrusion, especially when the ants are "swarming." The list goes on and on of the other insect pests that might already be in one's kitchen, but hopefully in small numbers, depending upon the region: fruit flies, houseflies and cockroaches (of course), flour beetles, grain weevils, pantry moths and so forth. You can be sure your purely-grown garden vegetables, or the organic dried grain products you've made great pains to obtain, will appeal just as much to the tiny but acute senses of these common pests.

So, you have the dual problem of fresh food tending to lose its freshness rather quickly (especially during high-temperature periods), and also that of insect pests potentially feasting on your foodstuffs. What can one do? Well, what follows are nine tips you could use to keep at least some of your food fresher longer, as well as more pest-free.

1) Spread some cloves on and around the countertop surfaces of your kitchen, and also spread some likewise under the sink. This will keep ants and other pests away very effectively and naturally. You could also sparingly use drops of clove oil for maximum potency, but beware that, as I mentioned in my homemade toothpaste article, clove oil will react strongly with many types of plastics and will actually dissolve some of them, so be careful where you apply the oil. Peppermint oil is good too, and also good around food areas, but it doesn't seem nearly as powerful or last nearly as long as even a drop or two of clove oil. Alternately, you could just sprinkle dried ground cloves judiciously in out-of-sight areas where crawling pests may have been seen before.           

2) For repelling pests further, place some bay leaves inside your bags of flour, rice and any other dried products that insects might consume. Bay leaves will help to keep these items pest free, but it's best to change the bay leaves once every three months or so.

3) Place half a potato in the refrigerator. Let's face it, seldom is there a refrigerator which has no odoriferous trace of anything rotting in it. Thus, if there's any emerging noxious smell in the refrigerator, the half-potato will absorb it. As you would replace any air freshener periodically, you would need to replace the potato half when it stops working so well.

4) Store eggs with the pointed side down. As peculiar and trivial as this may seem, storing eggs with the pointed side down keeps them fresh for a longer period.

5) Place a few cubes of sugar in the bag or container where you store American cheese. When you place two or three cubes of sugar with the American cheese in an air-tight receptacle, the sugar absorbs the moisture and prevents the cheese from getting bad.

6) Do not store tomatoes and cucumbers in the same exact place. Tomatoes give out gases that cause cucumbers to rot faster, so make sure that you keep these two apart.

7) There's the age-old trick of slicing an apple or potato in half and placing the halves within wherever you store your bread. By adding a few slices of raw potatoes or apples along with the bread, you ensure that the bread remains fresh for longer than it would have otherwise.

8) In contrast to the previous suggestion, and in a similar vein to #6, be sure not to store apples along with the rest of the fruits and vegetables. Apples release certain gases that cause fruits and vegetables to rot faster.

9) Store radishes in a container along with some water in the refrigerator. The water will keep the radishes fresh and crisp for a long time. For the same reason, if the radishes have shriveled, place them in a jar of cold water. Water will restore the radishes to their previous splendor.

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