By now, we have all seen the anxious scenes at grocery stores--people hoarding on fruits, vegetables, hand sanitizers, and other essential commodities. It all started after PM Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown on Tuesday. Panic still prevails among the general public owing to the shortage of groceries, veggies and mostly, the general uncertainty of it all.
Given the current atmosphere, it's the perishable food items that pose the biggest challenge right now. Add to it the fact that most Indian households rely heavily on fresh produce for their daily meals and you'd understand the general panic pertaining to food supplies.
However, instead of panicking, the need of the hour is to make the best of the available resources, correctly preserving all that you have handy so as to make it last as long as possible. To make things easy for you, here's are some ways to make your food last longer during lockdown:
To begin, here' a list of fresh produce that lasts the longest:
Ever heard about “blanching” spinach for palak paneer so as to retain the striking green colour? Well, blanching does more than just preserving the colour of your veggies. When properly blanched and frozen, the veggies retain all their flavours and nutrients.
The process involves boiling veggies first and then tossing them in cold water immediately after that, draining them nicely, packing them, and then putting them in the freezer. Basically all you need for the process is two large pots, your veggies, and some zip lock bags.
But before that, let’s identify the veggies most suited for blanching or preserving. There are the veggies that can be easily preserved: broccoli, peas, french beans, asparagus, and tomatoes. And here's how you can preserve them:
Step 1: Start the process by preparing your veggies for the blanching. Chop the broccoli into small florets, peel the peas, and chop the french beans. (Ps. all the veggies need to be processed separately.)
Step 2: Next comes the boiling. Boil your veggies for approximately 30 minutes each. In case of tomatoes, the peel would start coming off after a while and that’s what we are aiming for as well. Once boiled, remove these peels completely.
Step 3: Once the boiling is done, “Using a slotted spoon, scoop them out into a bowl of heavily iced water. Once chilled, drain the vegetables and scatter them onto a tray lined with kitchen paper. Freeze on the tray, then transfer to a freezer bag,” suggests food writer Caroline Hire.
Additionally, the tomatoes can also be preserved after turning them into a paste. All you need to do is cook the tomatoes over medium heat and add a teaspoon of salt for every five tomatoes. Leave the paste to cool and then transfer it into zip lock bags before putting them in the freezer.
While most of us might have lemon and mango pickles handy at home, it’s time to up the game and pickle the stuff that you never thought of pickling before. The beauty of pickling lies in the fact that it’ll let you preserve even fast perishing food items like chicken and mutton.
Here’s a chicken pickle recipe that you can follow:
Additionally, you can also pickle carrots, beetroots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and even beans by dipping them in brine in a glass jar. Keep this jar in the freezer for 48 hours and they'd be good to go.
An easy way to preserve your fruits is to either beat them into a pulp or squeeze out their juice and then freeze them in ice trays. You can also make popsicles out of these pulps. Here's a fun popsicle recipe to follow:
And while freezing your leafy greens is not really a good idea owing to their high water content which turns them into a literal mush upon freezing, there’s still a way to extend their life. You can increase the life of your green onions, celery, parsley, and cilantro by simply trimming a tiny bit of their stems every couple of days. You can follow it by soaking the greens in warm water for 10 minutes approximately and then soaking them in cold tap water for half the time.
While almost everything edible can be frozen one way or the other, there remain some food items that just aren’t preservation friendly because they can't be frozen. Here is a list:
Hard-boiled eggs: Because they go rubbery
Veggies with high water content: Coz once frozen, it’s basically just mush
Soft Herbs: Because no garnish looks good with herbs that look like they have beaten up
Egg-based sauces and curries: They’ll separate in the most unappetizing way and are sure to curdle up.
Butter and cheese: While butter can be frozen as it is for up to 3 months, to freeze cheese all you’d have to do is grate it. Loosely pack the grated cheese into the holes of a muffin tin or an ice cube. You can save this cheese for up to 4 months.
Milk: In case you have a milk carton, it can be frozen as long as it’s unopened and there is some gap between the liquid and opening as it will expand once frozen.
Yogurt: If you purchased large portions of yogurt, then you can freeze it in portions in clean muffin tins.
Raw eggs: Break open the eggs, separate the yolk or freeze then as it is in muffin tins.
Vegetable Stock: Now, making vegetable stock out of veggie waste is a great exercise in sustainability especially in the time of crisis when every last drop and morsel counts. Thus, follow the following section for a detailed recipe of making stock out of kitchen waste
Added all the ingredients to boiling water, cook on high flame for 5 minutes, and them keep simmering on low flames for an hour. Strain the stock and freeze.
So guys stop panicking and start preserving!
Featured Image: Unsplash