It’s a complete lockdown for India to prevent the spread of the COVID 19. Central and State Governments are constantly announcing to remain confined in the home. The number of affected people increases sharply. So, human isolation is the only way to save us, our friends and relatives, neighbors, our state and nation.
Most of us are going to the nearest market and getting whatever vegetables/fruits are available. Most fruits and vegetables are perishable, that does not remain fresh for a long time. Now the question is how can you preserve them at home with limited resources?
· We have limited space – at home as well as in our refrigerator
- Many vegetables remain in good condition outside the refrigerator
- We can utilize different kitchen waste (cauliflower leaves, orange peel, coriander stem, etc,) to prepare many interesting recipes. We should also try to utilize certain kitchen wastes in our cooking.
- Storing of grocery items is comparatively easy, requiring no special attention.
Being a nutritionist and food scientist, I tried several methods for preserving perishable foods in my own home without using any chemical preservatives. Let me share my personal experience of using suitable methods to extend the storage life of food.
Preservation of Fruits
All fruits are perishable items. They can not be preserved at room temperature for a long time. Different methods are useful for extending the storage life of fruits.
Banana becomes overripe, fruit flies keep coming which is the major problem of storing banana. Keeping it in the refrigerator may not be a good idea as the peel gets black. Keep it in the kitchen or on the dining table. Keep it covered with a fine cotton carrying bag, it will prevent attacking the fruit flies.
If you like to keep the banana for 7 days, then purchase green colored, matured, hard banana without any black spot on its skin. Ripping takes around 2-3 days and the ripe fruit can be kept for 3-4 days.
Don’t throw the overripe banana, rather use it for making pancake, smoothie, pakora, etc. An overripe banana is a richer source of antioxidants than the ripe banana.
Watermelon can be kept at room temperature for 7-8 days. When you cut the watermelon, consume it fresh, the excess amount should be kept in an air-tight food-grade plastic container which is to be kept in the refrigerator. In this way, you can store cut watermelon for another 2 or 3 days in good condition.
When you like to consume watermelon, take out the pieces you want and place the container back in the freezer immediately.
Orange / Mosambi /Grapes
Take a food-grade plastic box and spread tissue paper inside the box. Arrange a layer of citrus fruits, cover it with another layer of tissue paper, arrange another layer of tissue paper and close the box. Keep the box inside the refrigerator. In this way, you can preserve any citrus fruits for around 10 days. If you like to consume the fruit, take out the pieces you want and keep the box immediately inside the refrigerator.
Like citrus fruits, both black grapes, and green grapes can be wrapped in tissue paper, kept in a container which is to be stored at 4oC for 10 days.
Lemon is the most commonly available citrus fruit that can be stored well. Just squeeze the juice of 12 lemons, fill the ice tray of your refrigerator with the lemon juice, make lemon juice cubes. You can use these cubes for more than 15 days.
Fresh coconut can be kept at room temperature for 7 days. After that, you should shred the coconut or cut it into small pieces. Keep the pieces in a container and placed them in the refrigerator. If you keep them in the deep freeze, they may be kept for around 15 days whereas they may be stored well in the good condition at 4oC for 7 days.
Preservation of Vegetable
Like fruits, the storage life of the vegetables can also be increased by using proper preservation methods.
Potato and Onion
It should be kept at a cool and dry place in the absence of direct sunlight. They should be spread on a thick layer of newspapers in a single layer, preferably in a tray. If you have a big refrigerator, you may also keep them inside the freeze, it will increase their shelf life up to one month.
Ginger and Garlic
Both ginger and garlic remain fresh for around 15 days at room temperature but if you preserve them in the refrigerator, they remain fresh for around a month.
Beet and Carrot
Both beet and carrot remain in good condition for a comparatively long time. Cut them into small pieces and kept in the refrigerator, you can use them for around 10 to 12 days.
Cabbage and Gourd (Lauki)
You can keep them in fresh condition for 4 – 6 days outside the refrigerator. After that, you should cut them into pieces and keep them into the refrigerator for another 4-6 days.
For best preservation, remove the stem and leaves of cauliflower and store the edible whole flower inside the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Don’t try to keep them outside the refrigerator, it may develop a black or brown spot on the white flower, causing wastage of your vegetable.
Fresh Sweet Corn
Fresh corn can be kept at your kitchen for 3 to 4 days. You can boil them with a pinch of salt, remove the grains and preserve it in the refrigerator for a month.
Green peas are the easiest to preserve. Just remove the outer covering of the peas, fill the food-grade plastic container with the edible parts of the peas, and kept the container in the deep freezer. They remain fresh for more than a month.
Coriander /Mint Leaves
Keep the fresh coriander leaves in a cup of water, they remain fresh for 2 days. After that separate the stems and leaves, and preserve them separately in a small container, wrapped inside with white tissue paper.
Remove the upper part of green chilies and preserve them in the same way of preserving citrus fruits, they remain in fresh condition for 15 days.
Preservation of Fish
Fresh fish should be cut into pieces, cleaned with running tap water, marinated with salt and turmeric powder, kept in the airtight container which is to be stored in the deep freeze. In this manner, you can store fish for around 7 days.
Remember, when you like to remove a container from the freeze, thaw it at room temperature, avoid re-enter it into the freezer.
Preservation of Dairy Products
Store only pasteurized branded, closed packets of milk and /or curd. If you keep them in the deep freeze, you can remain in good condition for around 4 to 5 days. But it is best to store milk powder instead of liquid milk.
Try these techniques to preserve your perishable items. Hope this will help you. Feel free to pour your thoughts in the comment section below.
Stay at home and stay safe.