Over the last 18 months, more and more of us have embraced home cooking and experimenting with different foods and flavours. As we got used to not dining out, we developed our shopping and culinary skills to include everything from leisurely weekend breakfasts and a working lunch to a hearty home-cooked meal for all the family to enjoy. Making our ingredients last longer not only reduces the number of trips to the supermarket but it also saves money and waste, reducing the food we send to landfill. We all want to do our bit for the planet and climate change, so why not change our habits and lifestyles to make everything go that little bit further. It’s amazing what a few changes can do…
1 STORE FOOD CORRECTLY
It goes without saying that when you shop for ingredients, always look for produce with the longest use-by, sell-by or best-before dates. When you get them home, it’s important to store fresh and frozen food in the best way to make it last as long as possible. This not only saves on waste and saves money but also gives you the most fresh and flavoursome meals at the same time.
Firstly, check the temperature of your Miele fridge and freezer. It should ideally be a maximum of 5˚C in the fridge and -18˚C in the freezer. Some brands will fluctuate depending on the ambient air, but Miele models hold their temperature steady, keeping your food fresh for longer.
Look for PerfectFresh Pro climate-controlled drawers for lower temperatures and humidity, as these can be adjusted to suit the ingredients stored inside. Used for meat, dairy, fruit and veg, fresh produce will last up to five times longer. You can also use these drawers for fresh herbs, which can be washed then wrapped in damp kitchen roll. Items such as onions, garlic, ginger, potatoes and tomatoes on the other hand will lose their flavour if kept in the fridge. Unripe fruit is also best stored at room temperature then added to the fridge when ready to eat.
Miele’s new built-in K7000 refrigeration collection includes plenty of features that will keep food fresh for longer. Mid-range models within the range use DailyFresh to control humidity to keep fruit and vegetables fresh for twice as long. And for professional-style preservation, the top-end appliance boasts PerfectFresh Active, which sprays a fine mist on to the contents of the crisper drawer every 90 minutes and each time the door is opened for optimum humidity. This innovative feature keeps produce fresh for up to five times’ longer.
In the store cupboard, have a good supply of long-life produce such as anchovies, tinned tomatoes, pasta, pulses and rice. These versatile items can quickly and easily be whipped up into sauces and stews then added to meat, fish or vegetables that need using up. Another great idea is to vacuum pack food from the fridge, freezer or cupboard in Miele’s Sous-Vide vacuum drawer. It’s a nifty space-saver and food is completely sealed for hygiene and longevity.
2 BATCH COOK MEALS
This is a really great way to make meals go further. Make time at the weekend or during the week to cook meals or sauces in large quantities, which can then be chilled or frozen to be used another time. As well as saving valuable time, batch cooking also saves money too. A mince or Quorn mince, tomato and kidney bean mix for instance can be used to make spaghetti bolognaise, chilli, lasagne and cottage pie. Think of easy and familiar recipes and make it in larger batches. Additional ideas include curry sauces or pastes and batches of pesto or tomato sauce. Just remember to label the container with the dish and date it’s made before you store away.
Miele’s steam ovens are really handy for batch cooking and prepping food ahead. Blanch vegetables and cook them later or use the steamer to defrost ingredients directly from the freezer. Steaming retains vitamins, nutrients and minerals and it can also be used for things like chicken breasts and fish fillets, too. If you don’t have a steam oven, Miele’s MoisturePlus is also ideal for reheating food. Simply pop in your dish, uncovered, at a low temperature then add as many as three bursts of steam to stop it from drying out. It’s also great for reviving stale bread and pizza.
3 BUY SEASONAL AND LOCAL
Whilst it’s important to have a well-stocked cupboard with long-life packets and tins, another way to make food last longer is to shop for seasonal and local produce. From farmers’ markets to independent delis and grocers, there are so many ways to enjoy the very best of the current season. Eating fresh ingredients is not only better for our environment, cutting back on those air miles, but it’s also healthier for our mind and body too. Look for in-season leafy greens and fruit and veg in a rainbow of colours. Check the packaging to see where it’s come from or better still, buy loose from local artisans, growers, farmers and producers. By only buying what’s in season, you’ll not only be helping the planet, but you’ll also be tasting the most flavoursome ingredients that are at their very best. If a certain item isn’t in season, try not to buy a version that’s been grown on the other side of the world and switch for something local and in season instead. You can also freeze seasonal produce to make it last longer. Think summer berries and vegetables that can then be used come autumn for a burst of freshness.
4 PRESERVE WITH PICKLING
Another great way to make fresh ingredients go further is to preserve them by pickling or turning into jams and chutneys. Home-made condiments such as this taste amazing and allow you to enjoy their freshness and flavour long after the season has ended. Ideas include soaking fruit and vegetables in a brine of water and acid such as vinegar or lemon mixed with salt until no longer raw or easily spoiled. The result is a tangy sour taste that goes wonderfully with cheese. Pickling has a long and global history and has always been a natural way of preserving food. It’s perfect for a glut from the allotment or an over-zealous visit to the farmer’s market! Think cucumber, cauliflower, radishes and serve with a ploughman’s or cheese and biscuits. Fermented pickles also act as probiotics, supporting the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Brine kills off any harmful bacteria, so the good stuff can do its thing. To sterilise jars, simply pop them into a Miele steam oven on 100˚C for 15 minutes and use the vacuum drawer to seal the jars.
5 EAT EXPERIMENTALLY
A really simple way to cut back on food waste is to eat everything! Food waste contributes massively to global warming, as when it rots it lets off methane, a greenhouse gas. This is more potent than carbon dioxide and according to Love Food Hate Waste, UK households throw away seven million tonnes of food every year! So, when it comes to ingredients, whether it’s meat, fish, dairy, fruit or vegetables, try to eat as much of the produce as you can. This is usually called nose to tail or root to shoot eating and it’s all about being inventive with your cooking to use up every morsel. This sustainable way of eating reduces waste, saves money and challenges us to be more creative when cooking. You could use carrot tops to make a pesto, potato skins as healthy crisps, broccoli stalks in salads, asparagus ends for a soup and even an avocado stone as a fine powder for use in gluten-free flatbreads – simply dehydrate it in the Miele gourmet warming drawer then blitz into fine powder.
6 ORGANISE YOUR FRIDGE
We’ve touched on keeping your fridge at the optimum temperature but it’s also important to organise your chilled storage too. Before a big shop, go through and check what’s still usable. Position use-by dates in order and rotate items so you can see what you have to save doubling up. Features on Miele refrigeration such as Dynamic Cooling, PerfectFresh and PerfectFresh Active will help keep produce such as meat, fish, dairy, fruit and veg fresh for longer. Use the top half of the fridge for cooked meats, yoghurt cheese and leftovers, deli items, snacks and salads. The middle shelf is best for dairy, cheese and butter while the bottom is the coolest so it’s for raw food such as meat and fish, which should be kept in its packaging or wrapped up to avoid cross-contamination. The door shelves can then be used for jams, chutneys, your pickled jars, soft cheese and juice.
7 FREEZE FOOD FOR FRESHNESS
A great way of preserving food and making it last a lot longer is to freeze it. This totally natural method of preservation won’t affect the taste or texture of meals and you can freeze pretty much anything! Batch cooked dishes, soups and sauces are ideal for freezing as well as freshly cooked pasta and rice, nuts, butter, grated cheese, bread and herbs. Avoid freezing anything near its use-by date as well as foods with high water content, milk or potatoes. To get the best out of your Miele freezer, make sure food is completely cooled first and use sealable bags or containers. Never refreeze raw meat or any other item that has been previously defrosted. You can however freeze cooked dishes that are made from previously frozen ingredients as any bacteria will have been killed off during cooking. Use Miele’s vacuum drawer for vacuum packed meals that are quick and easy to reheat and blanch vegetables in the Steam Oven before freezing ready for another day.
8 CHOOSE THE RIGHT APPLIANCES
Now you’re armed with the knowledge on how to make your food go further, it’s the perfect time to reassess your appliances to make sure you have the best kit for the job. Miele fridge freezers will keep ingredients and produce fresh for longer with features such as humidity controlled drawers, PerfectFresh Pro and Dynamic Cooling. Miele’s steam ovens can be used to blanch vegetables, sterilise jars for pickling and steam seasonal produce. The gourmet warming drawer is perfect for roasting squash seeds while any of the ovens can create perfect results for roasting, baking, crisping, browning, grilling and more. Lastly, use the vacuum sealing drawer to extend food’s shelf life up to five times’ longer – ideal for dishes prepped ahead of time or batch cooking.