Fresh Food, Fresh Ideas: Our Guide to Proper Food Storage

Alison Pedler
6 minute read

Storing food properly is an important part of maintaining its freshness and preventing food waste. These proper food storage techniques can help to extend the shelf life of food and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. By keeping food stored in the right environment and using airtight containers, you can ensure that your food stays fresh for longer and is safe to consume.

 

Condiments: Storing condiments in the produce drawers can be a great way to ensure that you use them before they expire. Oftentimes, condiments can get lost in the back of the fridge or pantry and get forgotten. By storing them in the produce drawers, they are more visible and accessible, which can encourage you to use them more frequently. By keeping all your condiments in one place, you can easily see what you have and what you need to purchase. This can help you to use your condiments more efficiently and prevent waste.

 

Refrigerated foods: Foods that need to be kept cold, such as meat, dairy, and eggs, should be stored in the refrigerator. This will prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. These items should also be stored in airtight containers or wrapped tightly to prevent contamination from other foods. Make sure to keep the temperature of your fridge between 34° and 40° Fahrenheit.

 

Frozen food: should be stored at or below 0° Fahrenheit to maintain its quality and safety. It is important to properly package frozen food to prevent freezer burn and to limit the amount of air and moisture that comes into contact with the food. This can be done by using airtight containers or resealable freezer bags. It is also important to properly label and date frozen food items so that they can be easily identified and used before they expire. Frozen food should be arranged in the freezer in a way that allows for easy rotation and use of older items before newer ones. It is also a good idea to keep an inventory list of the frozen food items in the freezer to help keep track of what's on hand.

 

Fresh fruits and vegetables: Fruits should be stored at room temperature until they are fully ripe and then can be transferred to the refrigerator. Some fruits, such as apples and pears, give off ethylene gas which can cause other fruits and vegetables to ripen and spoil faster, so it's best to store them in a separate part of the fridge or in a perforated plastic bag.

Vegetables should be stored in the refrigerator, ideally in a high-humidity crisper drawer or in perforated plastic bags to maintain their moisture. Check our recipe for using cabbage past its best-by date. Some vegetables, such as potatoes and onions, should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place, away from direct sunlight and other fruits and vegetables.

 

Leftovers: Proper storage of leftovers is important in order to maintain their quality and safety. Leftovers should be stored in airtight containers or resealable bags in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking, or within one hour if the temperature is above 90° Fahrenheit. This helps to prevent the growth of bacteria, which can cause food poisoning. 

When storing leftovers in the freezer, they should be wrapped tightly in airtight packaging and labeled with the date of storage and can be frozen for up to 4 months.

When reheating leftovers, they should be thawed completely and heated to an internal temperature of at least 165° Fahrenheit to kill any bacteria that may be present. Avoid reheating leftovers multiple times as this can also increase the risk of food poisoning.

 

Dry foods: Foods such as grains, flour, sugar, pasta, and cereal should be stored in airtight containers or in a cool, dry place. This helps to prevent the absorption of moisture and odors, as well as the infestation of pests. If a package is open, it's a good idea to transfer the food to an airtight container to keep it fresh for a longer period of time.

It is also important to properly label and date dry foods so that they can be easily identified and used before they expire. A general rule of thumb is to consume dry foods within 6 to 12 months.

 

Canned foods: Canned foods have a relatively long shelf life and can be stored for 1 to 2 years before they expire. However, it's still important to check the expiration date and use the cans before they go bad. Cans that are dented, leaking or swollen should not be used as they may indicate that the food inside is no longer safe to eat.

When storing canned foods, it's important to rotate them so that the oldest cans are used first. This can be done by organizing the cans in a way that allows for easy rotation, such as by the date of purchase or expiration date.

 

Baked goods: Baked goods such as bread, muffins, and pastries should be stored in airtight containers or resealable plastic bags at room temperature. If the baked goods contain perishable ingredients, like dairy or eggs, they should be stored in the refrigerator. This helps to prevent the absorption of moisture and odors, as well as the growth of mold. 

A general rule of thumb is to consume baked goods within 3 to 5 days. If you plan on keeping baked goods for a longer period of time, it is best to freeze them, or alternatively, this recipe for overnight French toast is a great way to use up leftover bread or muffins.

When storing baked goods in the freezer, they should be wrapped tightly in airtight packaging and labeled with the date of storage. When thawing frozen baked goods, it's best to let them thaw at room temperature, or in the refrigerator to prevent any condensation that could make them soggy.

 

Proper food storage is vital in maintaining food freshness, quality, and safety. Different types of food have different storage requirements and it's important to follow the guidelines specific to each type. Proper packaging, labeling, and dating of food can help to reduce waste and ensure that food is consumed before it expires. Proper food storage also helps to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and uninvited pests which can cause food poisoning and spoilage. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your food stays delicious, fresh, and safe for consumption.

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