How To Avoid Food Poisoning and Illness With Proper Food Storage

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Produce

* Raw fruits tend to lose their vitamins when kept at room temperature, but tropical fruits go downhill quickly when stored in the cold. Most fresh produce should ideally be kept at around 50degrees F or 10 degrees C.
* Avoid storing fresh produce in plastic. The plastic does not allow air flow and they will rot quickly. Instead use cellophane or paper.
* Lettuce, cabbage and carrots keep well at about 30 degrees F (0degrees C ) and can be kept in a cool basement. Wash and spin dry lettuce and keep in a sealed bag with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Wash other salad vegetables just before use to inhibit rotting.
* Always wait until you are ready to use berries before you wash them. Washing before storing them will make them rot.
* Cut the tops off of all root vegetables before storing. Leaving them on will allow the tops to continue to draw nutrients from the edible roots.
* Store potatoes in a cool dark place. When potatoes are exposed to light, poisonous alkaloids can form.
* Before freezing vegetables, always blanch them for a few seconds in boiling water, then put them directly into cold water. Frozen vegetables that are not blanched often break down because their natural juices freeze and cause ice crystals to form, or because of enzymatic activity. Blanching prevents this problem. (Always cook frozen vegetables straight from the freezer. If allowed to thaw, it will encourage the activity of residual enzymes and microorganisms)

Dairy Products

* Milk and cream should always be kept in sealed containers so that they do not take on the odors of other foods. Milk keeps it`s nutrients longer when stored in a carton rather than in glass or plastic bottles. Exposure to light can destroy some of the riboflavin and vitamin A content.
* Butter and soft cheeses should be wrapped tightly and kept refrigerated. Hard and ripened cheeses ( Parmesan etc…) needn’t be refrigerated. Keep them loosely covered in a cool, dark space. If any mold appears, trim it off and the cheese is still safe to eat.

Meat, Fish, and Poultry

* Meats and fish should always be kept in the coldest part of your refrigerator
* Shellfish should only be kept in the refrigerator for a few hours, but will keep considerably longer in the freezer if packaged properly. Try to avoid wrapping meat and fish in plastic wrap before freezing. It allows moisture to escape and can cause freezer burn.
* Hot dogs and commercially package cold cuts will stay fresh until they reach their expiration date if you don`t open them. After they are opened, store in an airtight baggy and use as soon as possible.
* Get rid of any meat that has an off smell or is discolored

Oils

* Exposure to light can rob oils of vitamins E, A and D. Store oils in the refrigerator or a cool dark cupboard. Make sure that they are tightly sealed so that they don`t take on the smells of other foods.
* Store bought mayonnaise can be kept refrigerated after opening, but it is best to discard leftover homemade mayo to avoid salmonella

*Tips

When packaging leftovers, always make sure that the container that you use is not so big that it allows for a lot of air space. If you are using a zip lock bag, be sure to remove as much air as possible before sealing it.

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