Shelf-smart in the kitchen

Updated: Apr 21, 2020, 09:54 IST | Phorum Dalal | Mumbai

In a time of rationing, use easy-to-follow hacks to increase the shelf-life of your essentials

You buy a packet of chips, and munch on a few. Then, you accept that your next round is not going to be as crispy. There's always the chance that the chips might get soggy. Last week, we applauded American author-chef Padma Lakshmi's video on Twitter. It demonstrated a cool hack of folding a bag of chips to ensure it was vacuum-tight without having to clip it.

It got us thinking: in times of shortage of supplies, where rationing is critical, how can we improve the shelf life of food? We spoke to experts who have got you covered.



. To prevent them from drying off, store unwashed curry leaves in an air-tight glass bottle along with a kitchen paper towel at the base of the bottle. Remember to wash them before use.
LastS up to 20 days

. Bay leaves can be stored in raw rice, flour or oatmeal to keep them free of worms.

. Take tomatoes, wash them thoroughly and discard the eye (top layer). Dice and puree them without adding water and strain. In a non-stick pan add tomato puree; add a little salt or lemon juice and cook it for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool and pour into an ice tray to freeze. Before use, remove the required frozen tomato puree cubes and let them melt/soften. Use it in your gravies or in any preparation that requires tomato puree. LastS up to six months in the freezer

. Peel and mash over-ripened bananas. Store in zip-top freezer bags for up to six months. You can prepare delicious smoothies and baked products like banana bread or muffins.

Reetu Uday Kugaji

Inputs by Reetu Uday Kugaji, food consultant



. Flours like gram flour and buckwheat should be roasted and stored in a glass jar in the fridge to extend their shelf life.

. Roast mixed grains like black chana, jowar, nachni, bajra and akha masoor dal in an oven or toast in a kadai. Pound physically in a mortar and then put in a grinder to make powder. This is a sattu mix that can be used for thickening gravies and improving protein intake per meal. Mix two spoons in water and drink, or mix in water and put in atta.

. Take a chunk of hing or powdered hing (asofoetida) and mix it with the lentils and grains, in a jar or a sack. Considering the lockdown, the quantity of stored food in people's homes has gone up as opposed to earlier. You can throw some hing around the storage area as well as it acts like a natural insect repellent.

. Take eight to nine pieces of full cloves and put them in the lentils or grains jar (or sack)

. Take neem leaves and dry them in the sun for a few days. Hand-crush them and add to the lentils and grains (in the jar or the sack).

Gouri Gupta

Inputs by Gouri Gupta, founder Gouri's Goodies



. Marinate chicken or fish with thyme, rosemary, cilantro, garlic cloves, a little lemon juice and oil. Put it in a ziplock bag; refrigerate it for up to 12 hours. Grill or pan sear when needed.

LASTS UP TO four weeks in the freezer; fish lasts 12 hours in the fridge. If kept for long in the freezer, the acids in the marinade, combined with ice, can damage the fish and make it mushy.

. Marinate chicken or any red meat in Worcestershire sauce, BBQ sauce, chilli flakes, oil, garlic paste or powder and onion paste or powder. Half-cook and deep-freeze or deep-freeze when raw for later use.
LASTS three days in fridge and four weeks in the freezer.


. Wash and boil vegetables like carrots, capsicum and potatoes. Roast them with oil, oregano and chilli flakes, and refrigerate. It can be eaten in as a salad sandwich, an accompaniment with a main course, or tossed with rice or noodles.
LASTS three days in the fridge and eight weeks in the freezer.

. The marination mixture can be prepped and stocked without addition of meats. Use it as a sauce by adding stock water to it and reducing it. Add it to your vegetables, fish, chicken or red meat.
LASTS two weeks in fridge

. Bake vegetables like broccoli and bell peppers. Refrigerate them. Use them later for a sandwich or baked vegetables dish, or as an accompaniment for a main course.
LASTS deep frozen 4-5 days in fridge and 1-2 weeks in freezer

Jasjit Keer

Inputs by Jasjit Keer, chef, Alfredo's, Malad

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