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Tips to prolong the shelf-life of food

A recent New Zealand survey of 1000 New Zealanders revealed 86 per cent of us buy food only to throw it away — and about half of this food wastage is fresh fruit and vegetables.


Apples love the cold and will last much longer in the fridge compared to at room temperature.


Store in the fridge in a paper bag to absorb excess water.

Potatoes and onions

These two veges don’t get along: store them separately as they both produce gases that spoil each other.


Being sensitive to cold temperatures, prolonged storage below 10°C can damage them. In a fridge, cucumbers will have a storage life of about three days before showing signs of chill damage such as water-soaked areas, pitting and decay.


Best stored with the pointed end facing downwards, and under the right conditions can keep for about three weeks from purchase.


Correct storage is important to prevent wastage of what can be an expensive food item, and to ensure food safety:

  • Store raw meat on the bottom shelf, and cooked or ready-to-eat meat on the top shelves so any possible leaks from the raw meat won’t drip on and contaminate other foods.
  • Always marinate meat in the fridge and make sure it is covered or sealed.
  • Keep an eye on use-by dates and freeze any meats you know you won’t use before their expiry date.
  • Rotate frozen items when unloading shopping so older items are at the top.

Date modified: 10 September 2021
First published: Apr 2012


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