Storing foods can present its own set of problems. And different types of foods have different storage requirements to prevent bacteria from setting in. Here’s some tips to protect your family and yourself.
1. Vegetables should be stored in the vegetable crisper in the refrigerator. However, keep potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and garlic in a cool, dark, well ventilated place, but not in the refrigerator. Tomatoes have better flavor if they are not refrigerated. Once cut, tomatoes should be refrigerated like any vegetable.
2. Store vegetables in the refrigerator crisper in plastic bags to prevent loss of moisture and nutritional values. However, eggplant and capsicums should be stored open in the crisper as they sweat if stored in plastic bags. Put mushrooms in a paper bag (not in a plastic bag) before placing them in the crisper.
3. Apples and berries should always be kept in the refrigerator for maximum crispness. Summer stone fruits and melons should sit at room temperature until they are ripe, then go into the refrigerator. Grapes & fruits that are not yet fully ripe can be left in a fruit bowl in the kitchen.
4. Citrus fruits are fine at room temperature unless it is very hot, in which case, put them in the refrigerator. Bananas should be kept at cool room temperature. Their skins become black if they are refrigerated, although the flesh is still fine to eat.
Storing Dairy Products
5. Always check the expiry date on dairy products, especially milk. Don.t buy milk if it will expire in 2-3 days. Milk generally starts giving smell before its expiry date even if you store it in the refrigerator! Generally, milk bottles at the front of the shelf in the supermarket have an expiry date of only a few days. Look for bottles at the back of the shelf.
Storing Frozen Foods
6. Pack all your frozen foods together in an insulated container to keep them frozen until you get home. If foods defrost on the way home and you re-freeze them in a domestic freezer, large ice crystals will form and can rupture cell membranes in the food allowing nutrients to escape. Keep frozen foods frozen to maintain quality, as bacteria will begin to multiply when the food is thawed.
Storing Meat Products
7. Fresh meat, chicken, and fish always carry some bacteria so these foods must always be kept cold. Bacterial growth slows down in the refrigerator; at room temperature, they grow rapidly. Cooking kills these bacteria. Store meat, seafood and chicken in the coldest part of the refrigerator. See that any uncooked products do not come into contact with other foods in the refrigerator. They should be stored at the bottom part of the refrigerator so that any juices that drip out won’t contaminate other foods on lower shelves.
8. Make sure that fish or other seafood are wrapped and use as soon as possible. Throw them out if not used within two days.
9. If you are going to freeze meat, seafood or poultry, enclose it in freezer wrap and freeze as soon as possible after bringing it home. Store eggs in the refrigerator, preferably in their cartons, as it provides protection and prevents moisture loss through the shell.
Storing Other Products
10. Do not allow pet foods to come into contact with human foods. Pantry items (canned foods, cereals, etc.) should be stored in a dark place like in a cupboard or pantry. Keep oils out of direct light.