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Just a Little Bit Longer: How to Keep All Kinds of Food Fresh

By Tabitha Alterman

Tags: reader tips, question to readers, kitchen tips, storing food,

I find that if you prep fresh food (keeping in mind the specific ways in which you like to eat it) as soon as you get it in your kitchen, you’ll be less likely to let it spoil. I prefer to pick or purchase just what I’ll need for a couple of days and keep it in a beautiful wooden basket on the counter until I use it. I also love to see a vase of fresh herbs on the countertop, and few things make me happier than a terra cotta jar filled to the brim with fresh heads of garlic.

But sometimes — say, when you’ve just received a giant boxful of goodness from your CSA (community supported agriculture) program — you’ve got no choice but to refrigerate the food or you’ll lose it. To this end, I wash berries in water with just a bit of vinegar (a life-extension tip gleaned from the fabulous publication Cook’s Illustrated) before popping them into the fridge. I rinse lettuce and other greens immediately in cold water and spin them dry before storing them in the spinner or a cloth bag. I like to keep celery, carrots and radishes around at all times, so I chop them up and store them in water, which keeps them crisp for a surprisingly long time. Asparagus does well if its thicker ends sit in cold water, too.

My other go-to food saving strategies include roasting beets and tomatoes, and then storing them in a little olive oil in the fridge; dunking sliced hot peppers and cucumbers into a jar of vinegar to store in the fridge; and turning excess basil and parsley into pesto and gremolata, a condiment made with lemon zest and garlic. And of course, if an opened bottle of wine is starting to go off, I cook with it!

More Clever Ideas! 

Keep Food Fresh 

Share Your Kitchen Tips!

We want to hear about the creative ways you use leftovers. Post a comment below, or email your strategies to with “Leftovers” as the subject line.