How we store the foods that we buy can have a major impact on us health-wise – including their nutritional value, how long they last before expiration, as well as increase or reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Below you will find some basic but extremely important rules for food storage and preparation.
When it comes to storing foods, it can sometimes be difficult to know exactly what you should keep where. Certain foods should be kept refrigerated at all times while others should stay out of the fridge and remain at room temperature – and, in some cases, it doesn’t matter either way.
Examples of foods that should be kept in the fridge include:
• Meat, poultry and fish
• Dairy products (i.e. milk, cheese, yogurt)
• Condiments (i.e. jellies/jams, ketchup, relish, mayonnaise and mustard)
• Certain fruits (grapes, berries and sliced melon)
Keeping these particular items in the fridge prevents early spoilage as well as prevents the formation of mould.
Examples of foods that should be kept out of the fridge include:
Keeping potatoes in the fridge, for example, turns their starch content into sugar which can give them a sweeter flavour when cooked which may make them less appealing to the taste buds, while onions will remain crisp and tomatoes will remain firm if kept out of the fridge.
Optional (in or out of the fridge) foods include:
• Peanut butter
• Certain fruits (i.e. apples and bananas)
These particular foods, when frigerated, may harden, but it all depends on your personal preference.
Canned items can be kept in the pantry and will usually last for a long time, but you should always keep an eye on their expiration dates. It’s also important to note that any cans you have that appear to have a bulge should be thrown away rather than consuming their contents, as you run the risk of developing food poisoning.
How you cook your foods is also important in preventing food poisoning. Things like beef, pork and poultry should always be cooked thoroughly so that you are kill off any harmful bacteria. Beef should be cooked to at least 135 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, while bacteria in pork is killed off at approximately 137 degrees Fahrenheit, and chicken at 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on if it’s chicken breast or thigh.) Any leftover foods that you’ve cooked and don’t plan on eating should always go in the fridge immediately rather than allowing them to cool down to room temperature, as this will guard against the growth of bacteria. You should also avoid soaking meats, fruits and vegetables in water as this will make them lose water-soluble vitamins.