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How to store food correctly

Paula is a qualified nutritionist and a personal trainer and she shows her love and passion for health and fitness through her writing.

Food Storage

Food Storage

Storing food correctly is just as important as eating the right kinds of foods in terms of maintaining its nutritional value.

Some vitamins are destroyed by the light, heat, alkali and more whilst minerals don’t, the quality of food depends on how it is stored.

In this post, I’d like to go over some of the best practices for storing your food.

Why is it important to refrigerate some foods?

Some foods need to be kept in the fridge and in a specific temperature to reduce limit any growth of germs or bacteria as well as to keep food fresh and safe for longer. The foods that are normally kept refrigerated are marked by the "use by" date and "keep refrigerated" on the label. These foods include milk, meat and ready meals.

It is always important to follow the manufacturer's guidance on storing food and keep the food in an air-tight container.

Tin cans, especially the ones made of aluminium, should be kept out of the fridge as the food inside may develop a metallic taste. This is normally caused by the trace amounts of metal ooze onto food and causing it to taste metallic. This is not necessarily harmful unless there is a substantial metallic particles in food.

Tips for keeping your fridge right

Keeping your fridge the right temperature and ensuring food is stored correctly in it is very important. The temperature in your fridge should be set to 41F (5C) or below.

If your fridge is one of those modern ones with a digital temperature display then make sure to regularly check the temperature using a thermometer as the digital is not always displaying the correct temperature.

One last tip for keeping your fridge right is ensuring it works correctly. To do that clean and inspect your fridge regularly to ensure it remains hygienic and in good working order.

The ‘use-by’ and ‘best-before’ dates

All food, even tinned food has an expiry date, and when food is stored correctly it may keep well for longer - but it will always expire at some point.

Therefore, you should always check the food labels and especially the 'use by' and 'best before' dates.

The "Use by" date states when the food needs to be used by. Should you use the food after that date, it can be dangerous to your health with food poisoning being one of the major risks.

The "Best before" date is exactly what the name suggests, the food is at its best before that date. Eating it after that date won't cause harm but it may not taste as fresh as it would before that date.

If you’d like to understand more on food labels, then check out this article.

What about freezing of food?

You can pretty much store anything in the freezer but there’s a couple of things you should think about.

Anything with a high-water content like strawberries and tomatoes will go squishy but are still fine to cook with. To avoid food getting squishy after being defrosted, you can place it into an airtight container or into a freezer bag before placing it into the freezer. This will dry out its water content a little.

frozen strawberries

frozen strawberries

How to store eggs?

Many people keep eggs on a counter or in a cupboard, but eggs should actually be kept in a fridge. You can also freeze eggs (I know, that's weird but you can).

To freeze eggs correctly think about why you'd like to freeze them. If you are looking to bake them, then you should separate the yolks and the whites and placing them into food bags or containers before freezing. I

If you are looking to make an omelette or scrambled eggs then you can actually store a boiled egg in a freezer (make sure to remove the egg shell)

How to store meat and poultry

More caution should be taken with meat and poultry as germs and bacteria can spread fairly quickly and contaminate the meats. This can lead to food poisoning.

To limit the growth of germs and harmful bacteria, always make sure to store any meats and poultry in the fridge.

Some tips for storing these:

  • Raw meat can be stored in an air-tight container
  • Do not eat any meat or fish after its 'use by' date and for best practices follow instructions on labels
  • cooked and raw meats should always be kept separately

Tips and tricks for freezing and defrosting meat and fish

Both mean and fish can be frozen but again, a few things to be considered:

  • Always ensure it is frozen before the use by date
  • When defrosting, make sure to keep it in a bowl as germs may grow in the water/liquid that comes out the food
  • Always ensure the meats and fish are defrosted properly before cooking as it can cause a dramatic growth to germs and harmful bacteria
  • For best defrosting practices, either defrost it overnight or check if you can use your microwave

Freezing meat and fish is safe and keeps it fresh for a long time, but the quality can deteriorate if you freeze it for longer than 3-6 months.

Can you refreeze meat and poultry?

You can refreeze meat and poultry but never if it is raw or if its been defrosted.

You can refreeze meat and poultry if it was defrosted and then cooked but you can only refreeze cooked meat and fish only once. To refreeze meat and poultry, make sure that the they are kept in a cool or refrigerated place before being put back to the freezer.

Once food is defrosted, it needs to be eaten within 24 hours or thrown away. It may be best to put portions into the freezer and then defrost portions as you need them.


leftover rice, chicken and broccoli

leftover rice, chicken and broccoli

Summary

I hope that this information is helpful, and that you can now protect the food from losing any nutritional values as well as protect your health from any harmful bacteria that may grow as a result of poor storing.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.