When it comes to food storage, it takes some organization and maybe a few products to keep things tidy. Whether you are trying to preserve food until you use it or safely store leftovers, wise food storage can mean the difference between throwing edibles into the trash and enjoying them with your family. All food storage is not alike because food is kept in different environments.
- Meat: Keep all meat in its original store wrapping. Do not take your fresh meats out of their packaging and cover in plastic wrap or foil, as this will allow for bacteria to spread in your refrigerator.
- Dairy: Use the store-bought containers for storing your dairy products. After opening cheese, wrapping in wax paper will keep the cheese from hardening around the edges.
- Butter: You can store your opened butter in the refrigerator safely by wrapping it in wax paper or placing it in a butter dish. You can also store opened butter in a butter bell like the one shown below.
- Vegetables and Fruits: It is best to store fruits and vegetables separate from each other. Vegetables excrete gases that can cause fruits to rot and vice versa. Contrary to popular belief, you should not wash your produce before refrigeration because the dampness can cause rotting and mold. Some vegetables, like celery and bell peppers, are prone to drying out; store items like these in an unsealed plastic bag or a bag with holes in it. This allows moisture from the refrigerator to keep your fruits and vegetables as plump as possible.
- Leftovers: Most families have leftovers. Some people love leftovers while others cringe in disgust at the thought of eating them. I often wonder if those who do not enjoy their leftovers are victims of incorrect food storage. Some keys to proper leftover food storage are: using airtight containers, refrigerating within two hours of cooking, and not overstuffing the refrigerator in order to keep air circulating. Storing food in small and slim containers will help cool food quickly. Store different foods separately because each item will cool at a different rate.
- Bread: Bakery fresh bread often does not stay soft very long. After a day or two it starts to dry out. In order to keep your baguettes from getting stale, freeze the bread in its original packaging. It is best to seal the packaging with a twist tie to keep the bread from getting freezer burn. When you are ready to use it again, simply take your bread out of the freezer and let it remain in its sealed packaging until it reaches room temperature. All bread can be frozen and defrosted in this way. If you do not want to freeze your bread, simply store it in a breadbox. A tip I learned from an Italian friend is to lay a slightly damp paper towel in the base of the breadbox. This will to keep your bread moist and tasty.
- Cereal: There are several types of airtight containers for cereal storage. The dispenser pictured allows for quick and easy access. The majority of these dispensers come in a standard size and fit in or under most kitchen cabinets.
Most supermarket-baked goods, the kind that comes in prepackage containers, have enough preservatives to extend the shelf life beyond what you need. However, for those of us who enjoy baking, we must take a few steps to preserve our delicious creations. Homemade goodies are kept fresh by storing them in a tin or container. The cake tin pictured is an example of this type of storage.Picture by thecookskitchen.com
Food Storage Chart
Posting a food storage chart for quick reference in your kitchen may come in handy. You can find many variations online, or create your own chart.
With proper food storage you can enjoy food longer and safely. When food is at its peak freshness, your whole family will hopefully enjoy things like vegetables and leftovers. Good luck and happy organizing!
Laura Leist, CPO
Organizing with Laura