Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Keeping Your Food Fresh-Longer

Have you ever stored a tasty dish safely inside your fridge with the expectation that it would still be fresh and ready to eat when you came back, only to find it covered in mold and completely inedible a couple days later? Maybe you figured your meat would last a couple of weeks in the icebox but instead you discovered it riddled with freezer-burn. Or have you stored a loaf of bread on the counter and opened the bag to find a bread-flavored rock awaiting you? And don’t forget about the time you delved into your bag of flour and came up with a cupful of weevils (ick). There are a lot of ways that your food can get spoiled, but most of them can be controlled with a little background knowledge in proper storage techniques.

First and foremost, you need to store your food at the proper temperature. For the fridge, this means somewhere between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit while the freezer should be kept at, or slightly below, zero. If your temperature is any higher, it will result in premature spoilage. The fridge can be kept slightly cooler than recommended (although if you begin to see liquids freezing, it’s probably a bit too cold). And keep in mind that items like fruits and vegetables can be kept in crisper drawers designed to keep them fresh (sometimes with their own temperature control). But if you crank the AC in your freezer, you’re likely to suffer the ugly spots that are a telltale sign of freezer-burn. If you think there’s something wrong with the temp in your fridge or ice box, simply throw in a magnetic thermometer strip and check it out. You may need to have it serviced.

As for dry goods, the main way to store them properly is in an area that is neither too hot nor too humid (to discourage mold from forming). You should also use sealed containers for everything. This will keep harmful bacteria to a minimum as well as discouraging the presence of insects. Tupperware is a good choice for items like flour, sugar, cereal, and pasta (products that will likely be stored for quite a while). As for crackers, cookies, breads, and the like, you should consider placing them (packaging and all) inside Ziploc bags (squeeze out excess air before sealing to ensure freshness). Food items stored in the fridge and freezer can receive similar treatment and Ziploc even offers special bags that are sure to stave off freezer-burn.

Since it’s not only inconvenient to suffer food spoilage, but also expensive, you want to do everything you can to keep your foods fresh and ready for consumption longer. To do this, you simply need a little know-how and a few tricks up your sleeve. By checking your refrigerator regularly for a constant temperature, you can keep cold items from succumbing to mold and spoilage. And by using air-tight containers or baggies to store food, you will avoid the incursion of pesky bacteria and persistent insects. It doesn’t take much to keep your larder stocked, so save money and time by following these guidelines for fresh food storage.

Kyle Simpson writes for Spee-Dee where you can find auger filler and a rotary filling machine to meet your packaging needs and increase speed and efficiency in your business.
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