Category Archives: Food Storage

A Guide To Correct Food Storage

A vital aspect of maintaining health and safety standards in a restaurant or another establishment that serves food is knowing how to store food properly and safely. Even in your own home, it’s also essential to have a good working knowledge of best practices for storing ingredients and how long you can actually keep different types of food.

Here are some tips to help you store these different categories of ingredients correctly.

Meat and fish

Most meat and fish you buy from the butcher’s, fishmonger’s or supermarket will keep for a few days in the fridge. It is essential to keep any raw meat in its original packaging so it cannot come into contact with other things in your fridge. If possible, store it on the bottom shelf to minimise the risk of any juices dripping onto food stored below. Cooked meat does not pose a significant contamination risk but it should be fully wrapped.

You can freeze most things if you need to keep them for longer, typically for up to 4-6 months. Vaccuum packs keep for longer as they are less likely to be damaged by freezing. Cured meat and fresh, fatty fish are the only main things that should never be frozen.

Dairy products

Generally, dairy should be kept refrigerated. Once opened, many dairy products will not keep for longer than two or three days, so it’s essential that you check the individual use-by dates where possible.

Most soft or sliced types of cheese and butter are not suitable for storing in the freezer, except for some solid blocks in their original packaging, or grated cheese. Yogurt can be frozen, however, which extends the length of time you can keep it by around 2 months.

Fresh fruit and vegetables

Although different examples will vary and different factors can be involved (e.g. how ripe a fruit is when you buy it), most fresh fruit and vegetables will keep for around 3-7 days when refrigerated. Many items can also be stored at room temperature, for a little less time.

Usually you should keep fresh produce in its original packaging or wrap it in plastic yourself. Only wash items before bagging if they are particularly dirty, for example vegetables with a lot of soil or dirty marks on the outside.

Baked goods

It is usually best to avoid freezing bread and other items from the bakery if possible, as the results of thawing can be mixed, but if you’re careful it’s possible to keep these items in the freezer for around 3-6 months. Again, dairy should not be frozen in most cases, so any desserts, pies and so on made with cream should be kept only in the fridge.

Be careful when storing bread in sealed bags at room temperature, as an airtight seal can soften up crusts and make them damp over time. Make sure there are air holes in your packaging to maintain a fresh crust.

Condiments, herbs and spices

Many sauces are relatively safe to keep at room temperature but should ideally be stored in the fridge for the most part. Most oils, vinegars and prepared herbs and spices will keep for 12 months in a cupboard at room temperature, and typically a few months once you start using them. Nothing should really be kept for more than a year as the effects of storage start to become unpredictable.

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How to look after your herbs and spices

To ensure your cooking is always top quality, it’s really vital to start with a great herb and spice collection. But once you’ve figured out where to buy your seasonings and how to choose the best ones, your efforts might still be wasted if you don’t store and look after your collection properly. Here is some of our tried and tested advice regarding the best ways to look after your spices.

Review your storage cabinet

First of all you need to review and analyse your collection closely. Do you have a load of spices that can’t be used any more because they’ve been left too long and gone stale? If you’ve had them for more than a few months, chances are they’ve either gone off, or they have too many preservatives in them to be considered good quality. There are a few exceptions which will keep for years, but for any particular spice make sure you throw it out when it’s too old rather than spoil your food.

Keep everything organised

If you enjoy tidying up and keeping things in order then you’re the perfect seasoning connoisseur in the making. You don’t have to obsessively label everything, but it’s a good idea to mark things with the date you purchased them, and also to group things by theme or based on what you use them for. Ones you rarely use might end up at the back of the cupboard but you need to be careful they don’t get lost and go off.

Choose where to keep them

If your herbs and spices are too close to the oven, chances are they’re going to be weakened faster. Heat, light and air getting to them will make the flavours evaporate faster and they’re more likely to be unusable. You can put your seasonings and condiments in a dedicated cupboard, or keep them mobile in plastic containers or glass jars that you can move around your kitchen as needed.

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