We all have different reasons how we end up with foods in our refrigerator, freezer, or in the pantry. It could be leftovers that you intend to save for another day or your farm gave a great yield or the fact that a certain food is in season so you end up buying in bulk since food price change depending on availability.
Buying food in bulk to store for future use is advantageous in a number of ways especially when it’s in season. One, it’s cheaper since the produce is in plenty. Two, It’s fresh, you get the best quality. We all know that fresh products store better and for longer. Three, You get to save yourself time and trips to the grocery store every time you need that particular food.
No matter how well you store your food it will always go bad at some point but, it’s different when something triggers the spoilage and can be costly since you dint see it coming.
Food storage mistakes that fasten spoilage
The main aim of storing food whether in the fridge, freezer of in the pantry is usually to cut on cost, save time and minimize food wastage.
However, food storage can be costly due to simple mistakes that we hardly notice or tend to ignore which can lead to more food wastage than you intend to save or even worse, lead to food poisoning.
If you want your stored food to retain its best quality for longer, here are some common food storage mistakes that you need to rectify:
1. Storing food uncovered
Having in mind that there are both raw and cooked foods in your refrigerator, storing anything uncovered in the fridge can cause cross-contamination which can lead to food poisoning.
It could also alter the taste and flavor of other foods in the refrigerator in a case where the food has a strong aroma and vice versa.
Try to invest in airtight containers and zip lock bags for your food to remain of good quality throughout the refrigeration and the freezing process.
2. Storing warm or hot food
When you put warm or hot food in a container and seal tightly, it keeps emitting heat as it cools off which results in condensation forming tiny water droplets on the sides and on the lid. The excess moisture in your food encourages mold growth hence shortening its shelf life. Therefore, even if you put it in the refrigerator it’s not going to last long enough as expected.
Make sure to cool food completely before refrigerating or freezing. However be careful not to live it at room temperature for more than 2 hours as you increase the chances of harmful bacteria growing.
3. Freezing food without labeling
If you freeze food without labeling, most likely than not you will end up over-freezing some. Labeling food helps you to know when you put your food in the freezer making it easy for you to practice the first in first out rule and therefore consuming it while still at its best quality.
4. Not drying food thoroughly
If you choose to dry your food for storage, make sure to dry it completely. Dried foods have a slightly longer shelf life compared to frozen ones. But, if under dried mold could easily grow rapidly and before you know it a full tin of watermelon jerky is all rotten.
5. Failing to rotate food
Most of the time when you bring food from the store you just stuck it on top of the old ones out of laziness maybe. Without noticing that you end up using the fresh ones while living the old ones to go bad.
The only trick is to rotate the food every time you bring in a new one. Put the new ones at the farthest end or at the bottom depending on how you have arranged them, then stuck the old ones on top so you can easily reach for the old ones first.
Rotating food also saves you time to keep checking the expiry date on all the packets every time you want to use them.
6. Storing dry foods in a damp environment
Dampness will definitely encourage mold growth on dry foods like flour forcing them to go bad before their expiry date. Steam alone from a cooking pot can cause dampness therefore, Just like the name suggests, store all dry foods in a dry and well-ventilated area.
7. Storing spices near the stove
Everyone wants to store spices where they can easily access without the hustle of going back and forth. It’s unfortunate that the most tempting shelve is usually the one just above the stove. when you store spices near any source of heat whether stove or direct sunlight, the oils in them that hold the flavor tend to dry out leaving the spices tasteless.
Therefore for you to keep that flavor intact for longer, store all dry spices in a cool, dry, and dark place.
8. Storing perishable foods on door shelves
Most people are used to storing eggs and milk on the door shelf without noticing that every time you open the fridge temperatures fluctuate more on the door shelf.
Dairy products like milk, eggs, and meat are the most perishable foods and you should therefore store them in the coldest part of the fridge usually at the back.
For foods that need to be left at room temperature preferably on the kitchen counter, ensure that you store them away from direct sunlight.