Without a doubt, when you buy food, you buy it in quantities larger than you plan to consume in a single day. Whether you are buying flour, meats or cheeses, you are likely buying enough of these items to last you anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.This fact is especially true with the growing popularity of larger warehouse stores (such as Costco and Sam”s Club) that tend to sell bulk amounts of items at discount prices.Once you have purchased large amounts of various food products, the question becomes: what is the best way to store them so that you ensure they stay fresh for as long as possible? Unfortunately, there is no simple generic answer for this question. In short, different types of foods (i.e. grains, meats, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, etc.) have specific and distinct temperature and sealant requirements to preserve freshness.Keep reading to learn more about food storage for various foods.
Tips for Safe Food Storage
The key to effective and safe food storage is to date and regularly rotate your foods so that no food is stored or eaten after its shelf life is up.One thing to remember as you are storing food is that there are two aspects to a given food”s shelf life:
- nutritional value
- savory value.
While nutritional value decreases from the moment food is harvested and processed, the flavor of the food may endure of a longer period of time. As you are storing food, evaluate whether or not food is still good according to both of these factors, asking yourself “is the food worth saving if it only has minimal nutritional value?”
Factors that Affect Food Storage
When it comes to storing food, these three aspects will affect how well your food stays fresh:
- Humidity: Ideal food storage conditions should have no more than a 15 percent humidity level (especially dry goods). To prevent more moisture from affecting the food, store food in airtight containers away from wall areas where condensation forms.
- Light: If enough light hits food for a long enough period of time, it will start to decrease the nutritional content, draining food of vitamins A, D and E. As a result, store food in darker places, such as cupboards or the refrigerator.
- Temperature: The best temperature to store food lies between 32?F to 72?F. Keep in mind that for every 18? that your food storage area increases in temperature, your food”s shelf life decreases by half, meaning that food stored at 45?F will last twice as long as if it were stored at 58?F.
Food Storage of Dry and Canned Goods
Here is an outline of how to store canned and dry goods:
- Grains, Pasta and Flour: Store in an airtight, moisture-tight, pest-proof container. Whole grains (such as rice and dry pasta) will stay good for about two years. Flour and mixes for baked goods (such as pancakes, muffins and biscuits) generally stay good for about a year.
- Dry Beans and Nuts: Store in an airtight, moisture tight container for up to one year.
- Baking Soda: Keep in a sealed container (remember: baking soda absorbs odors) for about eighteen months.
- Baking Powder: Keep in a sealed container. Avoid exposure to any moisture. While baking powder tends to stay good for about one year, you can test its freshness by dropping a teaspoon of active baking powder in a glass of hot water (the baking powder should fizz).
- Spices: Remember the rules about light and heat? This really applies to spices. Although many people store spices above the stove (heat) or in a spice rack on a counter (light), spices should be kept cool (refrigerate for longest storage) and in the dark. If possible, buy whole spices and grind them as needed.
- Canned Foods: Most canned foods can be kept in storage for as long as two years without completely loosing their nutritional value.
Safe Food Storage for Produce
To keep produce fresh:
- Apples: Store at 32 ?F/0 ?C for up to six months.
- Bananas: Store in a cool area (but not refrigerated) for one week.
- Berries: Store in a basket or other ventilated container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
- Citrus Fruits: Store loose or in a ventilated container in the refrigerator for up to six weeks.
- Pears: Store at 32 ?F/0 ?C for up to four months.
- Carrots: Store loose or in ventilated bag at 32 ?F/0 ?C for up to six months.
- Greens: Store in the refrigerator for no longer than one week.
- Onions: Store loose or in a ventilated bag in a cool, dry area for up to six months.
- Potatoes: Store loose or in a ventilated bag or box in a cool, moist area for up to six months.
- Squash/Pumpkin (whole): Store in a cool dry place for up to six months. Protect them from bruising to prevent early spoilage.
- Tomatoes: Store fresh ripe tomatoes in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Green tomatoes can be stored in a cool, dry place for about five weeks.
Recommended Maximum Storage Times for Meat
|Beef||3 days||9-12 months|
|Lamb||3 days||6-9 months|
|Pork||3 days||4-6 months|
|Ham hocks||7 days||3 months|
|Sliced bacon||7 days||1 month|
|Vacuum sealed bacon||2 weeks||3 months|
|Minced meat||1 day||3 months|
|Liver, kidney and other organs||1 day||3 months|
|Sausages||3 days||3 months|