Are You Storing Your Belacan, Spring Onions and Fresh Herbs the Right Way?
When you open the lightly-used belacan wanting to add to vegetables only to find that it has gone mouldy and smells off – that’s quite a disappointment, right? That same feeling hits when you see spring onions and fresh herbs turning yellow or wilting. Condiments and freshly bought herbs add flavour in our dishes, so we really do want them to stay fresh for as long as possible.
Let’s find out why you might be storing them wrongly, and what are the best ways to keep belacan, spring onions and herbs fresh!
How to store belacan so it stays fresh for longer
This well-loved fermented shrimp paste is often a must-have in Asian homes, particularly for Peranakans and Malays. It may be pungent to some, but a dollop of belachan instantly enhances flavours of ingredients turning them into delectable dishes.
If refrigerated, belacan can last up to 6 months. The secret to ensuring that the shrimp paste stays good lies in how it is packed and kept.
- When storing raw belacan slabs
Open the original packaging, portion the belacan out and break them into small pieces to fit into small airtight containers. Alternatively, wrap the smaller portions of belacan with plastic individually and store them in an airtight container. The airtight containers help prevent the strong smell from “escaping” and lurking around in the fridge. Each portion makes it convenient for when you need to use them. Store these containers in the refrigerator.
- When storing premixed belacan sauces
There are many options of belacan sauces, and many love it spicy. Sambal belacan is a popular condiment in homes. When buying premixed belacan sauces like Sambal Belacan Power, Belacan Chilli, Sambal Belacan Mangga and Sambal Belacan Bunga Kantan, they are usually stored in glass or plastic airtight containers. So, what should you do after using it for the first time? Most of us would usually just leave them as is in their original packaging and keep them in the refrigerator. Most of the time, they can last for a few months.
However, the ideal way to store these sambal belacan sauces would be to scoop them out into smaller portions and keep them in small individual containers. Store in the fridge or freezer so they can last even longer.
Image Source: Singaporean & Malaysian Recipies
What’s the best way to store spring onions?
Do you prefer storing spring onions in long sprigs, or do you cut them first before keeping them? There’s no right or wrong way, but purely a matter of preference. However, storing spring onions that arrived as is with your grocery delivery isn’t the correct way.
Step 1: Wash the spring onions.
Step 2: Trim off the roots, leaving the white base on.
Step 3: Take a clean container and cut the spring onions to fit your container. Place these shortened spring onions into the container, close the lid and leave in the fridge.
(Optional step): You may like to chop up the thinner ends of the spring onions for ease of use. Simply keep them in a container with the lid on, and store in the fridge.
TADA Fresh Market food hacks: The above storage method works for keeping scallions and chives fresh for longer too!
Smart hacks to keep fresh herbs for longer
Herbs add extra flavour to meats and even home-baked breads. Ordering fresh herbs online helps ensure your kitchen is always well-stocked and ready for whipping up any cuisine! How can we increase the shelf life of fresh herbs and reduce food wastage too?
First, why do fresh herbs go bad?
Basically, 4 conditions are at play. So, it’s about finding that balance across moisture, temperature, oxygen levels and light.
Most people just leave the freshly bought herbs in the fridge as is. However, the best way is to first rinse them under cold running water, dry with a paper towel or kitchen towel, and store appropriately depending on the type of herbs. Some like using the salad spinner to rid the excess moisture – remember that more moisture increases the likelihood of decay.
Soft and hard herbs need different storage ways
Soft herbs are more delicate and are characterised with tender stems and leaves. Hard herbs have woody stems and firmer leaves and tend to look “drier”.
How to store soft herbs in the fridge:
These need TLC like a bouquet of fresh flowers. Trim off the ends of their stems, fill a glass with cool water and put them in with leaves sticking out. Cover it loosely with a plastic bag. Some folks say that giving soft herbs like cilantro, English parsley, Italian parsley, coriander, Italian basil, Thai basil, Chinese celery and mint, dill, tarragon a quick rinse will help remove the dirt and potential pollution or chemicals that linger and increase their deterioration rate. Change the water every 2-3 days (or when it starts to discolour) and these soft herbs should last a week or two.
How to store hard herbs in the fridge:
These seemingly “hardy” herbs need some moisture lest they dry out in the cool space. Wrap them loosely with a damp paper towel, then pack them into an airtight container or resealable bag. The moist paper towel prevents them from drying out, while the container or bag keeps oxygen out and prevents them from browning. Following these steps, hard herbs like thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, turmeric leaves, and bay leaves should last up to 10 days, if not a couple of weeks.
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