When it comes to food storage, you need to take extreme care as any wrong move on your part will risk the lives of your family. All the food borne illnesses take place mainly due to improper storage of food items. Often, you store all sorts of food products in the refrigerator or the freezer. However, you still need to follow certain tips to ensure that the food you’re eating is fresh and clean. Mentioned below are some tips for the same.
1. Keep an eye on the temperature – Use a food thermometer to measure the temperature inside the fridge. According to the statistics by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the temperature in the refrigerator ought to be 5 degree Celsius and the freezer should touch or be less than -18 degrees. You need to ensure that the temperature of the refrigerator does not increase as warmth can spoil the food items and lead to infestation by bacteria as well. Hence, you must get your refrigerator checked at regular intervals to see if the temperature maintained is optimum to keep all the food in it fresh and clean.
2. Store fruits and vegetables first and wash them later – Often when it comes to fruits and vegetables, we tend to wash them first. However, that shouldn’t be the case as the moisture that’s left out in the veggies and fruits can invite a lot of bacteria. This can render them tasteless and unusable. In case of green leafy vegetables or lettuce, you need to first wash them, drain the water completely and store in plastic sealed bags. You can also use paper towels to absorb the excess moisture developed in the process.
3. Food should be stored after 2 hours of cooking – That’s the maximum amount of time you can keep your food away from the refrigerator. Most of the food items get spoilt if they are not refrigerated within 2 hours of preparation. That’s because most of the substances begin to deteriorate at room temperature itself. That is why refrigeration plays a very important role in increasing the shelf life of cooked as well as uncooked food.
4. Store everything in shallow containers – Shallow containers spread the temperature evenly within the food particles. This keeps the food in good condition for a long period of time. The containers should not be more than 2 inches deep for the optimum refrigeration of eatables. Shallow containers allow proper air circulation within the food particles which prevents the food from deteriorating easily.
5. Ensure that the food is wrapped tightly – In case you’re using plastic sealable bags for storage of food items, you need to filter out all the air. This will give you more space to store the eatables that can prevent them from spoilage. In case you’re storing curd or any other eatables, store them in a small container and ensure that there’s no room for moisture getting in.
6. You can refreeze the food as well – You can always refreeze food that has become slightly warm. However, you need to remember that freezing doesn’t guarantee bacteria-free storage. Though it prevents the formation of bacteria, it does not destroy the ones that are already present in the food.
7. Don’t keep opening and closing the refrigerator door – If you keep opening and closing the refrigerator door frequently, the temperature inside it keeps fluctuating which can lead to spoilage of the food. Generally when there’s a power cut, refrigerated food can be consumed for a day or two after storage.
8. Use up all the stored items before buying new ones – For saving on your money as well as time, it is efficient to use up all the stored food first and then buy new items. You need to check the manufacture and expiry dates of all the canned food that will help you to store the goods accordingly. Even when you buy certain things such as bread or buttermilk, have a look at the manufacture and expiry dates to get an idea of how long you can use the food. Be very careful, as consumption of expired food may lead to food borne illnesses.
9. Throw away food if you’re in doubt – If you’re not sure whether a particular food item has become infected or is fresh, simply throw it out. There are bacteria which cannot be recognized even via smell or taste; hence the best option is to dispose of the item as soon as possible.
Keep the above tips in mind before you store food in the refrigerator or the freezer.