Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

For the last year or so I've been a keen user of mesh plastic reusable produce bags.

As fruit and veg storage systems go, these draw string bags are the best I've used.

I take them shopping with me and don't use the plastic bags supplied for selected produce. These mesh bags weigh about the same as the shop supplied.So checkout prices are not gonna rob you by weight.

That may seem environmental but it is actually extremely convenient as there is no double handling.

Since I refrigerate most of my veg I simply bag what I harvest or buy -- and store the loaded bags in the fridge. If you store items like tomatoes outside the refrigerator, that's OK too as the bags will keep fruit fly away from the flesh.

Spuds, onions and such can also store well bagged this way in dark cupboards  because  the bags allow for air circulation to reduce moisture and mould.

The bags come with a hand wash recommendation but I machine wash mine as they freshen up best that way.Hanging them outside briefly in the sun will also sterilise them.

Those who grow fruit will note that you can also use these bags -- maybe just the older ones -- to protect your prided growing fruit from attack from creatures while still on the bush or tree.

The other must have bags are string bags. I mention this as I seem a lonely advocate.

Once a shopping essential in my youth, the humble string bag makes for an easy pick up and carry out to and from the car. I also love the great colours.

You can go shopping with just one of these -- and few of the mesh ones--  in your pocket.

For meats, cheeses, preserved meats and cut veg ends, I use aluminium foil -- but foil I can re-use over and over again.

Forget the supermarket shelves and Alcan -- what you need is a really strong foil. If it isn't strong it's simple: don't use foil. Aluminium is congealed electricity.

Some places -- like BBQ specialists -- can sell you iKON pack super heavy duty aluminium foil.

This product is great and will last you for years without much actual wastage. You'll pay around $25 for 65 metres!  I use it to rest the cut edge of a cabbage on for instance.

Long term, I'm primarily a freezer guy as I found preserving took up too much fridge space and required a lot of effort. What I've done there is switch almost all my freezer storage to the  same size -- 1 litre -- plastic container. All the same lids too, of course.

The choice of containers are many but I'm using Sistema 1 litre for the price and quality.

I can fit much more in my freezer with these containers and all I need do in most cases is prep the food by cutting it up.

I seldom have a harvest glut unless it is consciously grown with freezing in mind.

I do dry some foods but primarily for the concentrated texture and taste change.

Today my major preserving efforts are Filmjölk yogurt, chilli paste, and mustard. I found a lot of my efforts --such as kimchi -- did not marry well with my shifting cuisine focus. I may be yogurt dependent but it's worth noting that all preserved foods you make through harnessing lactobacilli,  produce the same or similar family of probiotic microbes. And I consume yogurt several times per day without having to wait for the menu to feature it.

You'll note that most cultures in the world celebrate one or two preserved foods at every meal.Yogurt -- Filmjölk yogurt -- is mine. I drink it like you do plain  lassi.

Finally, I use masa corn flour. While I love tortillas, whole grain corn, like masa, keeps much better than wholemeal wheat flour and need not be refrigerated. So if you were planning your larder for long term supply, Masa corn flour  is a good choice.

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Here's a (just one of many no doubt) link to the bags Here

Thanks for those great hints Dave. You are always generous with sharing your knowledge.  I have in fact purchased a set of bags that you mentioned and also a tea gadget, saves tea bags and they had on special some other string bags for $10. Free postage when you order at least $50 worth.

The alfoil is next on the list, it would be better than g-wrap and reusable.

One thing I tend to reuse is the big waxed paper bags that dry breakfast cereals come in.  We cut the top with scissors then clip with re-usable plastic clips and when the bag is empty, we rinse out, hang to dry and reuse for lettuce and green leaves etc. It can hold a little moisture to stop food drying out. 

We also use cleaned mutta pasata sauce bottles for drinking water with lemon or lime in it.

For thems with sewing machines - I've noticed that spotlight/lincraft etc seem to have a stash of mesh/laces/cafe-curtain material in the remnant bin. Cheap that way (for thems withouth sewing machines - fabric is usually expesive) and super easy to make your own.

I just made up a few additional bags last night using some net curtain from an op shop. Plenty of options around if people want to repurpose and recycle. We just need to think outside the box.

Our local Op shop has just put their prices up.  I went to buy an old net curtain to cover my plants and they wanted $20.  We used to be able to buy them for about $2 - $5.


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