The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in a home. Creating a marvelous meal can do wonders for practically anyone. Food sustains us — it brings out the best in us.
However, sometimes we end up cooking — leaving leftovers that can potential spoil. And unfortunately, sometimes we’re forced to throw out food that has spoiled due to poor food storage methods.
Simple and Safe Food Storage Tips
Maybe you’re like many who find themselves going through a produce section of a grocery store, which is stocked with great-looking fresh produce. It can be awful hard to avoid picking up everything in sight.
Having fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables around the house can be quite satisfying because they are extremely flexible and can be used to make so many healthy meals and snacks.
However, if a lot of vegetables, fruit, and herbs are brought home, it’s important to store them in separate areas — especially produce that will be stored at room temperature.
For example, if you plan to store onions and potatoes, they definitely should be stored separately. If onions and potatoes share the same storage container, they will spoil much faster. Ideally, having several different food storage containers placed in a pantry helps to avoid waste and spoilage.
It’s important to store food correctly to avoid spoilage and waste. If you routinely find yourself in need of storage ideas and space — and if you’re tired of losing leftovers, the list below offers 10 simple and safe food storage tips.
- Save your cheese — Cheese can be a satisfying delight, if you’re not allegoric or intolerant to dairy products. Storing cheese requires a different method from other foods. For example, do not store cheese in an airtight container. This dairy product needs to breathe. Use cheese paper or parchment to store cheese. Do not use plastic wrap or tinfoil. Plastic wrap and tinfoil will cause cheese to dry out faster. Cheese that doesn’t get enough oxygen will end up dry, brittle, and unpleasant tasting.
- Freeze fresh herbs — Fresh herbs are one of the healthiest and natural additions to most meals. Freshly cut parsley or basil makes a world of difference in a meal and are advantageous to our health. But one of the biggest problems with fresh herbs is that they go bad so fast. And there aren’t very many simple ways to store them. One alternative to storing fresh herbs is to freeze them in olive oil. Freezing herbs in olive oil stops them from browning. Freezing herbs in olive oil also helps to avoid freezer burn.
- Store your flour in the refrigerator — Flour is a staple in most kitchens around the world. If whole-wheat flour is in your kitchen, and you don’t think you’re going to use it too much, consider the option of storing it in the refrigerator. If wheat-flour is left in a cupboard or pantry too long, the flour can go rancid in a container due to the high level of oil in the wheat germ. Instead, place the flour in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. The flour should last up to six months. Smell the flour before using it. Good flour will be almost completely odorless. If you detect a sharp or tangy smells, it’s best to throw it out. Regular white flour can be stored in the cupboard in an airtight container for up to a year.
- Use mason jars — Stop using plastic, including Tupperware and other plastic containers. Start using glass containers, instead. Glass containers and mason jars are much easier to clean. They’re more hygienic, and they actually keep stored foods fresh more efficiently.
- Store red spices in the refrigerator — Not all spices are fine when they’re placed in a pantry or counter top. Red spices, like chili powder and cayenne lasts much longer if they’re stored in the refrigerator. Storing these red spices in the refrigerator helps to keep them their bright red color much longer. In addition, by avoiding the heat and light, these red spices preserve much longer.
- Use vinegar on berries — A bowl of fresh picked berries — like strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries — are a natural healthy delight. However, they tend to get moldy. When you pick up berries at the market, there’s a chance you may miss some mold hidden on the tasty fruit. When you bring the berries home, rinse them off in a mixture of vinegar and water — one part vinegar to ten parts water. This mixture will get rid of the mold.
- Freeze butter — If butter is left unopened, it can last up to four months in the refrigerator. Additionally, you can freeze unopened sticks of butter in the freezer, inside of a plastic bag, for up to and over a year. When you’re ready to use butter, make sure to check for color consistency. If it looks like the butter is beginning to lighten on the outside — and the inside stays dark, oxygen has probably ruined it.
- Wrap banana stems tight — Bananas are incredibly nutritious, easy to eat, and delicious tasting. They also help in settling your stomach. Unfortunately, bananas go bad in a short time. To help preserve bananas for up to four or five days longer, consider wrapping each individual banana stem with a small piece of plastic wrap. This is an inexpensive and simple method to increase the freshness and longevity of this edible fruit.
- Freeze fresh vegetables — Fresh vegetables are healthy and delicious; but they spoil quickly. Sometimes it’s hard to eat them before they spoil. To help keep your vegetables fresh and last longer, you may want to consider chopping up your leftovers, blanching them in some hot water, and then freezing them inside freezer bags. Most vegetables — as well as fruits — are able to store well in a freezer.
- Refrigerate or freeze perishables right away — Foods that require refrigeration should be put in the refrigerator as soon as you get them home, according to a consumer update by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA suggests, “Stick to the “two-hour rule” for leaving items needing refrigeration out at room temperature. Never allow meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or produce or other foods that require refrigeration to sit at room temperature for more than two hours — one hour if the air temperature is above 90° F. This also applies to items such as leftovers, “doggie bags,” and take-out foods.”
Food Placement and Storage Material Matters
It’s important to be well balanced when you purchase and store food products. Buy several items, rather than a large quantity of one or two items. The ole’ saying, “Variety is the spice of life” holds true here. Exciting and new experiences make life more interesting. The same applies to the food we consume.
If you’re faced with an unforeseen emergency or financial hardship, you will have to live on your present food storage. You could do much better having a one-month supply of a variety of food products, rather than a year’s supply of just two or three items.
And it’s an ideal time to inventory your refrigerator when you’re putting groceries away. Get in the habit of cleaning out your refrigerator every time you come home with groceries.
When you’re putting food away, don’t crowd the freezer or refrigerator so tightly that air cannot circulate. Make sure foods aren’t rotting, and consider making plans for meals based on what food products you have that are starting to lose their freshness.
The most important thing to know about long-term food storage is to recognize and appreciate that the place and material you choose for food storage matters.