Cut the waste and make the most of your fresh produce with our easiest-ever hacks. We've got over 30 simple ways to prep, store and use up your fruit and veg.
33 ways to make the most of your fresh produce
1. Don't bin those berries
Blueberries going soft? Freeze them in a single layer on a tray, then store in an airtight container or sealable bag in the freezer. Add them to cakes, cereal, muffins and smoothies.
2. Cover up celery
To keep celery crisp, wrap it in foil and store it in the crisper section of the fridge for up to 4 days. Snap off stalks as required, then trim the ends and wash just before using.
3. How to peel a pineapple
Don’t cut too deep when peeling a pineapple – the outer flesh is the sweetest part of the fruit. The easiest way to peel a pineapple is to slice off the base and top, then stand the pineapple upright and cut down the sides to remove the skin.
4. Tomato trick
Freeze overripe tomatoes for up to 3 months to use in cooking. Chop them while still slightly frozen so you don’t lose any of the juice, or grate frozen tomatoes directly into sauces.
5. Garlic smash
For easy peeling, use the flat side of a sharp knife to lightly crush garlic cloves – this will loosen the skins. Or, try roasting the whole garlic bulb, then squeeze the flesh from the cloves.
6. Ripe and ready
Bag one with a banana and it will soften up in 2-3 days. When ripe, the avo will be slightly soft at the stem end. Store ripe avocados in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Place in a paper bag and keep out of direct sunlight at room temperature for 2-3 days to ripen faster, then store in the crisper section of the fridge for up to 3 days.
Store in a paper bag with a banana, apple, or pear until slightly soft. Once ripe, store in the crisper for 7-10 days, keeping away from other fruit that you don’t want ripened.
7. Perfectly cooked green beans
Cook green beans in plenty of lightly salted water without a lid. This keeps their colour and they will cook quickly. Drain once they are just bite-tender.
8. Give cucumber a long life
Did you know that cucumbers won’t last as long if they’re stored with other fruit, such as apples and tomatoes? Store them solo in an airtight container in the crisper section and use within a week.
9. Rethink rhubarb
To use up excess rhubarb, toss chopped stems in a little sugar to coat, then add to your favourite muffin recipe or packet mix. Stir some into the batter and sprinkle a little extra on top before baking.
10. Cauliflower leaf stir-fry
Don’t discard cauliflower leaves – turn them into a tasty side. Cook cauliflower leaves in a frying pan with a little olive oil and crushed garlic until softened. Add 1/2 cup (125ml) chicken stock and a splash of soy sauce. Simmer, covered, for 10-15 mins or until tender, adding the pale inner leaves and sesame seeds towards the end of cooking. Serve with grilled steak.
11. Carrot reviver
To pep up limp carrots, peel, chop and soak them in cold water until crisp.
12. Curtis Stone's onion tip
Don’t throw out the ends and outer peel once you’ve chopped up your onion. Chuck them into the pan when you’re roasting chicken, pork or beef. It turns the juices into delicious gravies and sauces. Just remember to remove before serving.
13. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy
To get more juice, roll and press lemons on the counter before juicing – this helps burst the individual cells in the citrus, making the fruit easier to juice.
14. Bloom is your friend
Don’t rush to remove the powdery white film on grapes – this is called bloom and it occurs naturally to lock in moisture, as well as to protect the fruit from bugs and bacteria. Removing the bloom will shorten the shelf life of grapes, so store them in the fridge and wash just before eating.
15. Save silverbeet stems
Most recipes call for silverbeet leaves, but the stems can also be added to soups and stews or sautéed as a side. Store them, covered, in the fridge.
16. Waste less leek
Here’s a great way to cook whole leeks – not just the white part. Halve leeks lengthways, brush with oil, then barbecue until charred and tender. Serve with barbecued steak.
17. Make apple scrap tea
For a clever cuppa, add apple peel and cores to a saucepan of water (allow 1 cup/250ml water per apple). Pop in a cinnamon stick or quill and 3 cloves. Cook over medium heat for 10 mins, then strain and discard solids. If desired, sweeten with honey.
18. When to wash strawberries
To stop strawberries getting waterlogged, rinse them before you remove the stems. Plus, they’ll stay fresher if you don’t wash them until just before using.
19. Pumpkin seed snack hack
For a no-waste snack, coat clean, dry pumpkin seeds with olive oil and paprika. Spread them over a baking tray and bake at 180°C for 10-15 mins or until crispy.
20. Have herbs on hand
Freeze excess herbs to use in cooking. Wash and dry herbs, then chop and place in ice cube trays. Cover with oil and freeze. Use the herb cubes in soups or stir-fries.
21. Curtis' beet-iful tip:
When I’m roasting beetroot for a dip, I usually chuck a couple of extra beetroot on the baking tray, then refrigerate them and slice for sandwiches and salads during the week.
22. Easy spring onion oil
Got a few spring onions in the crisper that are almost at their use-by date? Turn them into a tasty and refreshing oil. Blend chopped spring onion with olive oil, then add to stir-fries or drizzle over soups and salads.
23. Surprise watermelon fries
Try this refreshing way with watermelon: cut into thin batons and serve with a yoghurt dip.
24. Quick chilli seed removal
To remove the seeds from a chilli, cut off the stem end and hold the chilli, cut-side down, between the palms of your hands. Roll the chilli between your palms and the seeds will loosen and fall out.
25. Thanks a bunch
Like cut flowers, asparagus needs to be kept cool and hydrated. Wrap the spears in a damp tea towel and store in a bag in the crisper section of the fridge. Or, stand upright in a container filled with 1cm of cold water, cover with a bag and store in the fridge.
26. Curtis tip: tato favourite
My all-time favourite way with potatoes is to wash them, halve them lengthways and bake directly on the oven rack at 200°C for 50 minutes, then eat them with a slice of butter. The crusty baked skin is the very best part.
Grate excess zucchini, place in a sealable bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Once thawed, drain well and use to make zucchini bread, veggie fritters and muffins.
28. Top fennel fronds
The feathery tops of fennel bulbs have a delicate aniseed flavour and can be used like fresh herbs. Add the fronds to pesto, salsa or vinaigrettes, use them as a garnish, or toss them through green salads, roasted veggies and pasta dishes.
29. Add spinach to smoothies
Use up baby spinach in your breakfast smoothie. Just blend 20g baby spinach leaves, 1 cup Coles Frozen Pineapple Pieces, 1 peeled and chopped kiwifruit, ½ cup chopped frozen banana and ½ cup (125ml) almond and coconut milk or dairy-free milk in a blender until smooth.
30. More ways to reduce waste
Use up and prolong the life of your fresh fruit and veggies with these top tips from Stephanie Alexander:
- Wash and dry the leaves of two to three lettuce at a time. Carefully layer the leaves with paper towel in a plastic storage container and refrigerate. Now you have greens for two to three days instantly available.
- Freeze overripe bananas in a container, with or without their peel, until you have two or three and can make a banana cake.
- Use the thick broccoli stem – peel it, slice it, then blanch or steam it. It tastes as sweet as asparagus.
31. How to stone an avocado
Here’s the safest way to prep avo: carefully cut the avocado in half lengthways around the stone. Twist the halves to split, then remove the stone by gently sliding a spoon between the flesh and the stone to lift.
32. Secret fluffy sweet potatoes
Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and coat with oil before baking. Piercing improves the texture by allowing steam to escape, resulting in a fluffier, lighter sweet potato. Bake them for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 180°C.
33. Get ahead rind
Before juicing an orange or lemon, finely grate the rind and freeze in a sealable bag. Add to cakes, muffins and salad dressings for a citrus twist.