|Food Storage Tips
Preserving the nutrients in your veggies
|While different vegetables have protein, fibre and starches, they also contribute to your health because of vitamins and minerals. The amount of nutrients that are retained by vegetables is highly dependent on how they are prepared. Here are a couple of points to help you get the most (nutrients) out of your veggies.
Vitamin C and B leach easily into the cooking liquid when immersed in water. Further, up to 20 percent of the Vitamin C in a vegetable can be lost every minute that it takes to heat to boiling. This is because an enzyme that destroys Vitamin C becomes more active as temperature rises. However, this enzyme no longer has an effect at the boiling point. For this reason, vegetables should be added to water only after it is boiling.
Steaming veggies keeps more than twice the Vitamin C than boiling does. To preserve color as well as nutrients, a good idea is to cut vegetables into small, uniform pieces and cook them quickly. Happy cooking!
Preventing Food Contamination
|Here are some frequently asked questions about how to prevent food contamination through proper storage and cooking.
The Fridge and Freezer
Left over Food
- What is the ideal temperature for the refrigerator?
The ideal temperature for a fridge is between 34 and 40 degrees to slow the growth of bacteria.
- If the power goes out in the fridge, how long will food last for?
If you keep the fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible, food should last in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours and in the freezer for 1 to 2 days depending how full the freezer is. The fuller the freezer is, the longer the food will last.
- How cold should the freezer be?
The freezer should be below 0 degrees. If items are not frozen solid then the temperature is too high.
- Is it safe to refreeze partially thawed food?
Yes, as long as the food still has ice crystals. However, this may reduce the quality of the food and cause it to become mushy or watery.
- What Foods Can You Freeze?
You can freeze any food except cans of food or whole eggs in the shell. Some foods, however, do not freeze well. High fat dairy products like cream and mayonnaise tend to separate when defrosted and high water content vegetables like lettuce and cucumber will go soggy.
- Does Freezing destroy bacteria and parasites?
No, freezing does not destroy bacteria or parasites. It prevents the growth of any microbes, but once the food is thawed these microbes again become active.
- What is the best way to defrost food?
There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the fridge, in cold water or in the microwave. It is not safe to defrost food at room temperature. The most ideal way to defrost is by planning ahead and allowing the food to defrost slowly in the fridge. Unfortunately we are not always this organized so there are other alternatives. You can submerge the food into cold water, remembering to change the water every 30 minutes. The only problem with this method is that certain types of food can become watery. The other method is the trusty old microwave. With this method it is best to cook the food directly after defrosting it as the food tends to partially cook in the microwave. It is not safe to keep partially cooked food in the fridge.
- Is it better to wash produce before storing it?
It is better to wash produce right before you are going to use it, not before storing it. The moisture from washing it can encourage spoilage.
- If there is mould on cheese is it safe to cut it off and use the rest of the cheese?
Generally, this is fine as long as you cut off at least 1 inch on each side that is growing mould. With softer cheeses like cottage cheese, Brie and cream cheese, it is safer to throw away the entire cheese as you cannot be certain that you have removed all of the mould.
- How much should you heat up leftovers?
You should heat leftover until they are steaming hot.
- How long can cooked food sit out on a plate outside of the fridge?
Food should only sit out for 2 hours.
- If you're not sure whether a food item has gone bad, is there a way to tell if itís still safe to eat?
No. Smelling or tasting the food will not necessarily help you to determine if the food is safe to eat. It is best to throw the food away.
- What is the best way to store non-perishable food items?
It is best to store non-perishable food items in a cool, dark place. Store your food in cabinets that are far from the stove, oven, dishwasher or heater.
- What should be done with a bulging can?
A bulging can should be thrown away. Do not try to open it or taste the contents as it may contain the deadly botulism organism.
- How long can you store herbs and spices?
Spices typically last for about 6 months before they loose their potency. Whole spices last longer and can be kept for about a year.
Tips to keep your groceries fresh
Should be kept in the fridge in a closed plastic bag, with air perforations or peeled and submerged in water.
Whole eggplants should be kept at room temperature or in a cool dark cupboard. Once you cut into this Italian squash, you should rub any exposed flesh with lemon and stored covered with plastic in the fridge.
Keep your tomatoes out of the fridge unless they have been sliced. Putting tomatoes in the fridge makes the inside watery and shortens their shelf life.
All leafy greens have high water content so they wilt easily. Once faded they are hard to revive. To ensure they stay fresh as long as possible, wash and dry them thoroughly using a salad spinner. Rip the leaves into bite-sized pieces and put them in the fridge in a sealed plastic container with a tea towel or some paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Cotton bags, like pillow cases also work excellently.
This hearty cruciferous will keep for up to a couple of weeks if you store it like a bouquet of flowers in the fridge. Cut about an inch off the stem right away & plunk it down in an old margarine container filled with water - only submerging the stem. Change the water every couple of days and if the base of the stem seems a little slimy, just give it a new cut. Broccoli can also be kept in a plastic bag.
Store your potatoes in a cool, dark place (a covered bin on your back porch/balcony is ideal). If you leave them exposed to light, they will turn a greenish colour. This greenish colour is called Selenium and can be mildly toxic, and therefore should not be eaten, especially by children.
These should be kept just below room temperature in a very dry place. Yellow and white onions tend to have a longer storage life than red onions. Never put onions in plastic bags.
These should be kept in paper bags in the refrigerator. Plastic bags cause them to go mushy.
Bread:Bread should not be put in the fridge! Bread goes stale faster in the fridge than on the counter. Freezing, however, is an excellent way to keep bread fresh if you cannot finish it in one day. Cut bagels and buns before freezing - then toast to defrost. Make sure the bread is protected from freezer burn by closing the bag tightly.
Dairy Milk: Milk is very sensitive to temperature. Milk will stay fresh for 24 days if kept cold. However, you can reduce its shelf life drastically by leaving it on the counter for just two hours. Always put your milk back in the fridge as soon as you finish with it.
Tofu: Once you have opened a package of tofu, you should store the unused portion in a container of water, with a tight fitting lid. Tofu should be used within three days from when you first open the package. The water should be changed daily.
Eggs: should last anywhere from 4 to 5 weeks in the fridge. If an egg is rotten it will feel lighter and it will float when placed in water. A boiled egg should not sit in the fridge for longer than a week.