The stark reality is that each year, 119 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States. That’s the same as 130 billion meals and more than 408 billion dollars in food thrown away yearly. Reading this stat was more than enough motivation for me to look for new ways to maximize the lifespan of my fresh produce and set up a foolproof game plan for organizing my pantry and fridge to reduce food waste. Of course, while we can't overhaul our entire food system in one sitting (much as we may wish otherwise), even the smallest changes we make can be a step in the right direction and make an impact on the amount of food waste we contribute.
So, first on my list of ways to reduce food waste is a genius food storage hack for keeping cucumbers crisp—read: preventing them from turning into soggy, slimy mush–for over a week that I came across on TikTok. Spoiler alert: All you need is a resealable container, clean water, cucumbers, and a refrigerator. Easy enough, right? We certainly think so.
How to clean and store cucumbers so they last over a week
In a recent TikTok video by @kelseyvenkov, Kelsey Venkov demonstrates how to prep and store cucumbers so that they last over a week and maintain their crunchy texture. To start, she removes the cucumbers from their original packaging and rinses them under cool tap water. (FYI, this step is 100 percent in line with the FDA’s guidelines for cleaning produce, which recommends you wash all produce thoroughly under running water before preparing and/or eating, including produce grown at home or bought from a grocery store or farmers’ market.)
@kelseyvenkov My cousin showed me this and we've done it ever since! They last so much longer and taste crunchier✨ #storingvegetables #vegetablestorage #cucumbersnack #storingfood #foodstorage #foodstoragetips #kitchenorganization #fridgeorganization #fridgeorganizing #freshvegetables #fridgestocking #fridgestorage #fridgeorganizer ♬ original sound - Kelsey Venkov
Next, Venkov fills a large bowl with clean water and adds about a cup of distilled white vinegar. She then soaks the cucumbers in the vinegar-water solution for about 15 minutes. Why? A homemade vinegar-and-water solution can be more effective than a store-bought produce wash, as Megan Roosevelt, RDN, a nutritionist and founder of Healthy Grocery Girl, previously shared with Well+Good. This extra step (though it’s not totally necessary) can potentially help remove even more grit (as you might do with fresh strawberries) if they’re super dirty.
Once they’ve soaked, Venkov strains and rinses the cucumbers one more time. Then, the fun (and slightly surprising) part: she preps a few clean airtight containers and fills them with fresh water. Finally, Venkov adds the cucumbers into the water-filled jars, closes the lid tightly, and stashes them in the fridge. The result is crunchy, crisp cucumbers for over a week.
Why this cucumber storage hack is helpful for maintaining crispness
Cucumbers—which are basically synonymous with H2O—are made up of about 96 percent water. This means that aside from their ultra-hydrating, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, they also have the innate ability to become a soggy mess in the blink of an eye when stashed in the produce drawer. That’s why we’ve found that storing cucumbers immersed in water can help preserve them and keep them from drying out due to your fridge’s harsh cooling system for over a week.
The key to nailing this trick, however, is swapping out the water every few days to reduce the risk of contamination or bacterial growth. And ICYMI, the same water-submerging storage technique applies to carrots (and celery), too. As the food storage and produce queen, @emilymariko, demonstrates in this TikTok video.
@emilymarikoVeggie prep for the week!♬ original sound - Emily Mariko
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