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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

FOOD WASTE: THREE EASY TIPS TO AVOID IT

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Despite the publicity, food waste in the US continues to be a growing environmental problem.  It also costs you money.  So where are the best places in your home when looking for ways to reduce food waste?  Not surprisingly, think of some of the most common foods you eat, like fish, eggs and milk.  In fact according to the USDA, the average American tosses 40% of their fish, 23% of their eggs and 20% of their fresh milk.  Why?  One big reason is when we question the freshness of these foods after we've had them a few days.  In addition to buying fish, eggs and milk as fresh as possible, try these easy to use tips for reducing waste with these perishable foods:

Fresh fish:
  • When buying fresh fish, there should be no fishy odor and if whole, the FDA recommends that among other things, the eyes of the fish should be clear and its skin shiny.
  • If buying frozen, check package dating and avoid those with a lot of ice inside.
  • Fish will go bad quickly.  To minimize this, try eating refrigerated fish within 24 hours or quick thawing frozen fish in cool water in a bowl just prior to cooking it.
Eggs - most eggs are sold by the dozen.  That may be great if you eat a lot of eggs, not so great if you don't:
  • Short of having your own hens, most of us will end up at the grocery store hunting for eggs.  You should always check the 'sell by' date on the carton for the freshest eggs. 
  • Keep eggs refrigerated.  Per the USDA, raw eggs can be stored in your refrigerator for up to 5 weeks.
  • Try to keep egg cartons organized by date so you are eating the oldest eggs first.
  • An easy trick for storing extra eggs is to freeze them before they go bad.  Do not freeze eggs with the shell on though.  Simply crack them into a bowl, gently stir them to mix the yolks and egg whites and then freeze them in ice cube trays.  Once frozen, they can be stored in the freezer in a bag or food container, then thawed as needed for recipes or egg dishes.
Milk:
  • Select the freshest milk by checking the 'best by' or 'sell by' date on the carton, and don't buy more than you will consume before it goes bad.
  • If you think you won't use all of your milk before it will spoil, know that milk can be frozen.  Most people do not like the taste of milk after it has been frozen, but it is perfect for recipes.  We recommend freezing it in premeasured portions, such as 1/2 cup size, which happens to be close to the size of large muffin tins.  Once frozen, the frozen portions can be stored in bags or food containers in the freezer and removed as needed.
Have any tips for reducing food waste you'd like to share?  We'd love to hear from you!

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