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food waste

Food Waste Tips

How To Store Lettuce So That It Romaines Fresher for Longer

Are you looking to cut your food waste? Here are my top tried and tested plastic-free tips on how to store lettuce so that it romaines fresher for longer. Yes, this article contains lettuce puns of a similar calibre – you have been warned!

Did you know that here in the UK we throw away 40% of the bagged salad we buy every year? This works out at around 37,000 tonnes – the equivalent of 178 million bags – of lettuce being discarded year on year. According to research, this waste stems from the fact that shoppers do not always buy bagged salads with a specific meal in mind. This then, in many cases, leads to these bags of lettuce being forgotten about and then binned.

I’ve been blogging for years now about food waste. And for good reason. When food is wasted, the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package that food is wasted too. And if food isn’t composted, it goes to landfill. Here it produces methane – a greenhouse gas with 21 times more warming potential than carbon dioxide.

I think that Government and supermarkets have the biggest responsibility when it comes to tackling food waste. However, that’s not to say that we as individuals shouldn’t take responsibility for our own food waste. Reducing our food waste also saves money too, so it’s very much a win win. Luckily, there are lots of tips and techniques on proper food storage that can prolong the life of our food. Like lettuce leaves, for example. Lettuce take a look!

How to store lettuce to keep it fresher for longer

How To Store Lettuce To Keep It Fresher for Longer

Let’s chat through the three main ways to store lettuce, to keep it fresher for longer. For extra eco brownie points, all of these methods are plastic-free.

The Tea Towel Method

One of the first ways to make your lettuce last longer is what I refer to as the tea towel method.

First, pick out any slimy leaves and compost these. Then give the remaining leaves a good wash. You don’t have to wash the leaves, but I find it a hundred times more convenient knowing that the lettuce leaves are ready to be used straight away.

Next, dry the leaves off as best as you can, either with a salad spinner or a tea towel. I know some people use kitchen roll for this purpose, but a clean tea towel works really well.

Now, get another clean dry tea towel and spread your lettuce greens out on it. Then gently roll up the towel, like you would roll a Swiss Roll, and store the lettuce (towel and all) in the bottom drawer of your fridge. This method works because the towel absorbs any excess moisture, keeping the lettuce fresher for longer. I find lettuce stores for around a week using this method. You can also store bagged salad using this method.

The Jar Method

Another great way that I’ve found to store lettuce is to store in a jar in your fridge.

Take a large clean and dry lidded jar, and again, pick out and compost any slimy leaves from your lettuce.

Next, wash the remaining lettuce, and dry it using a salad spinner or tea towel to remove as much water as possible. Then chop or tear the lettuce leaves up into whatever size you prefer. Finally, pop the dry leaves in the jar. Pop the lid on, and place it in your fridge. Your lettuce should keep for a week. Again, bagged salad can also be stored using this method.

There is a bit of a lettuce myth going around. Some people say a torn lettuce leaf lasts longer in the fridge, compared to a cut lettuce leaf. The rationale behind this is that, when you tear a lettuce, it tears along the natural seams of the lettuce. This damages fewer cells, limiting their exposure to oxygen. In theory, cutting the leaves damages more cells, increases their oxygen exposure, and makes the leave brown quicker. I personally don’t find tearing or chopping makes a difference – but proper storage definitely does.

The Cup of Water Method for Storing Lettuce

If you have a whole head of lettuce, then much like storing spring onions, it’s a good idea to store a whole head of lettuce in a cup or bowl of water to keep your lettuce fresher for longer.

Simply slice a tiny amount off the end of the lettuce, and then pop the lettuce into a cup of water (end side down) until you are ready to use the lettuce. Not only will your lettuce stay fresh, but it may also continue to grow. Store it in the fridge or on your countertop – wherever you have the most space. Don’t forget to change the water when it goes cloudy, or top up the water when needed.

How to Revive Limp Lettuce

You’ve followed all the tips on storing lettuce, but you accidentally forgot abot your lettuce, and now the leaves have gone limp? It’s ok, it happens! If the leaves haven’t gone slimy, and are just a little wilted, then it’s really easy to revive limp lettuce.

Simply get a bowl of icy cold water, and submerge your lettuce leaves. Leave them in there for up to around 20 minutes to rehydrate. Next, remove the leaves from the water and allow them to drain. Alternatively, spin the leaves in a salad spinner to remove excess water. Then serve or store as above.

PS: as an additonal tip, did you know that you can regrow lettuce? Kitchen wizardry at its finest!

Food & Drink, Food Waste Tips

How To Keep Milk Cool on Your Doorstep In Summer

Does your milkman deliver milk in the dead of night? In winter, it’s no big deal, but in summer, it can cause milk to spoil quicker. Here’s how to keep milk cool on your doorstep in summer to help reduce food waste.

Way back in January we switched to getting our oat milk delivered by our local milkman. And boy, has it been one of the best plastic-free switches we’ve made. We’re not discarding tetra-paks anymore. Instead, the oat milk is delivered in returnable glass bottles, and the milk itself is made by a UK-based oat milk company – Oato. In fact, I need to add the company to my guide to the best oat milk as I think it’s hands down the best milk. If you happen to be in Central Scotland, then I get mine delivered through McQueens.

We’ve had zero problems with the milk since January. However, over the last few weeks, when it’s been really warm, we’ve noticed the milk going off really quickly, and I couldn’t work out why. I had entertained the idea that perhaps the milk was going off on our doorstep, as it hasn’t been particularly cool in the mornings lately. But I thought the milkman delivered our milk at around 5 or 6 am, and that an hour or two sitting outside wouldn’t have much effect on the milk.

The Ah-Ha Moment

Then one evening, I had been beavering away working on Moral Fibres whilst the rest of my family slept. In the summertime, when my kids are off school, it’s the only time I really get to work on the site undisturbed, and I ended up working until 11:40 pm. Whilst I was creeping through the hall, trying not to wake anyone, I heard a clanking noise outside my door. I thought someone or something had knocked over our empty milk bottles. That was until I realised it was the milkman. It turns out they deliver our milk before midnight! This means our milk is usually sitting outside on our doorstep for more than 7 hours before we get up, which isn’t particularly cool. This isn’t a problem for most of the year, but in summer it’s not ideal.

That evening, I was able to bring the milk bottles in and pop them straight into the fridge. However, I’m usually in bed way before 11:40 pm, so I started to think how best to keep milk cool on our doorstep until morning, to stop it from going off. Here’s what I came up with.

How To Keep Milk Cool On Your Doorstep Until Morning

tips on how keep milk cool on your doorstep in summer

If your milk has been going off on your doorstep in the summer heat, then don’t worry. My best and easiest solution to keep milk bottles cool on your doorstep until morning is a simple freezer bag. Just before I go to bed I pop an ice pack inside a freezer bag (just a standard freezer bag from the supermarket) and leave it on my doorstep. The weight of the ice pack not only prevents the bag from blowing away but also keeps the milk nice and cool on our doorstep until we wake up. No more off milk, and less food waste.

For another top tip, on the first evening, I left a note on the door for the milkman saying to pop the milk in the bag. The milkman knows the drill now.

If you don’t have a freezer bag and ice pack to hand, then there’s no need to go out and buy anything new. I’ve also heard of people leaving a shallow bucket of cold water outside their front door, for the milkman to pop the milk into. I’d also reckon that would work pretty well.

Any other tips or techniques that you use? Do share in the comments below!