How to save your food during the lockdown

Mary Swu
Padumpukhuri, Dimapur 


Bought groceries more than you need just to find it rotten the next day?  Ever wondered why your fresh fruits and veggies got rotten even after it's kept in a refrigerator? If so, then you probably need to read this. The first and basic thing is to keep your fridge clean. Left over residue or mold spores can make your fruits and vegetables go bad much faster. But this alone is not the solution for all. The placement of the food items in the right manner will make a significant impact in storing your food.


There are some food items that should not be kept open with others as it can cause spoilage. Some fruits and vegetables produces a gas called ethylene, a ripening agent that will cause the neighbouring food to go bad.


Explanation: Ethylene breaks down the chlorophyll, the chemical that keep plants green and helps them make energy. When chlorophyll breaks down, leafy greens turn yellow or brown.

 

PRODUCERS OF ETHYLENE:
Apples, Apricots 
Avocados
Onions
Tomatoes 
Peaches
Plums
Pears
Guava
Jackfruit
Passion fruit
Custard apple
Bananas 
Melons

 

Ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables that should be kept away from ethylene producers
Broccoli 
Carrots
Cauliflower 
Celery
Cucumber 
Eggplant 
Green beans
Lettuce
Turnip
Mint
Squash
Grapes
Cabbage
Leafy greens 
Asparagus

Usually what we do is separate the food items in two categories: those which can be kept in fridge and those which should be kept outside. But storing vegetables together can actually affect by the flavor and some combination may speed up the rotting. Example some vegetables like potatoes and onions can be cooked together and has a delish combo, but it is not a good idea to store them together as the ethylene gas emitted by onions can speed up the sprouting of potatoes. Potatoes also produce moisture which can cause onions to go bad. 


Many fruits and vegetables will start going bad quickly when improperly stored. The common mistake of placing foods in the refrigerator seems safer and more hygienic to many of us. And so we usually pack our fridge with foods that really don't need to be there. But what we need to know is: not all vegetables are made for cooler place. This is because the temperature requirement for each food item may vary. Root vegetables such as carrots, yams, beets and onions should be stored in a cool, dark and humid place to retain their nutrients. Some others like pumpkins, squash and hot peppers are better stored in warmer place. While some vegetables like carrot can be stored for more than 3 months if properly packed and kept in the coldest place in your refrigerator. So the placement depend on the kind of food.


There are two ways to stop your foods from decaying: you must eat them quickly to prevent from starting to rot, or store them in a proper place.  


Here are some of the foods that shouldn't be stored in refrigerator:


Cucumber: They hate refrigerator. Anything below 50 degree will cause them to spoil faster. The best way to store them is to wrap it in a plastic wrap to minimise the amount of moisture, which slow down the process of decay. If cut into slices, put it in a container with lid. This prevents it from drying out.  


Melons: USDA research found that storage at room temperature might help keep the antioxidants more intact. Once they're cut, refrigerating can keep it stored for 3-4 days. 


Mangoes: Unripe mangoes should be stored at room temperature, since cold slows down the ripening. But once they get soft they can be refrigerated in a plastic bag. 


Coffee: Store your coffee in airtight container. 


Onion: According to Nation Onion Association (NOA) onions are best stored in a dark and well ventilated room. However, Once you've cut onion, it should be stored in fridge to avoid bacterial contamination. According to USDA, peeled onions can last 10- 14 days in the refrigerator. Store them separately from other vegetables. Avoid leaving them in plastic bags. If you want it to last upto 8 months, it is best to hang them in tights


Potatoes: If your potatoes turn green, it's because they've got too much light. Store them at a low constant temperature. Plastic bag promote moisture and speed decay process. Keeping potatoes in refrigerator may affect their taste and texture as it breaks down the starch. 


Bread: Refrigeration can dry out bread


Garlic: Garlic should be kept away from other root vegetables (it is fine to keep next to onion). Garlic in whole bulb can be stored for about 8 week, while the cloves from the bulb can be kept for 3- 10 days. To preserve the powerful flavor of garlic, store it in cool, dry and well ventilated place. 


Including some other food items such as:
Nuts 
Berries
Jam
Dried fruits 
Pickled vegetables 
Peanut butter
Pastries 
Hot sauce
Eggplant 
Honey

 

Make sure your food items are placed in a right way. If your refrigerator is overcrowded, you can keep it in the coolest place of your house. This will increase the life shelf of the particular food. 
Hope this will help when you can't go grocery shopping everyday.