Do you know that about a third of food produced in America gets wasted every year? That’s shocking! But then, it’s the reason why everyone should be cautious of how they store their food.
Food storage is not only essential to prevent food wastage. It’s also the first line of defense against food-borne illnesses in your home. So it’s best to put in the effort to do it properly.
This article will show you what you need to know about storing foods. So, sit back and learn.
Now, let’s move straight to the question.
How far above the floor should food be stored?
For optimal storage, store your food at least six inches (15 centimeters) above the floor. Ensure dry foods are at a minimum of six inches away from the wall and off the ground. That’ll enable the product to be safe from contamination and allow ventilation.
Be sure that the shelves or platforms in your storeroom are off the wall and floor.
Additionally, maintain a temperature of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit in your storeroom. The humidity level should be about 15%. Ensure you clean your store room regularly to avoid pests. When you do these things right, your food will last longer.
A thermometer will come in handy to help you track your daily storeroom temperature. And if possible, store foods in their original packaging.
Don’t forget that you have to place your food in the correct order in your refrigerator. If you have to store raw and cooked food in one place, please know that storing ready-to-eat foods above raw ones will help prevent contamination.
Tips To Ensure Food Gets Stored Properly
Here are some tips that will help you store food properly.
Tip#1: Follow storage directions:
To store food correctly, make sure you follow storage directions. Always check food labels for them.
If you don’t store food items properly, you’ll have to throw them out. That’s why you have to be careful when preserving your food.
Tip#2: Use leftovers as soon as possible:
If you have any food remains, ensure you use them quickly. Even if you put them in the fridge, they are less likely to last long. And that makes them prone to spoilage, especially if the refrigerator temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Please don’t forget to check leftovers daily.
Tip#3: Refrigerate short-lived food quickly:
When you refrigerate your perishable food items, they’ll last longer. As soon as you get home from the store, please place them in the fridge. They shouldn’t stay more than two hours at room temperature.
Tip#4: Look out for spoiled food:
Always be on alert for bad food. You don’t want to take anything that’ll make you sick. So throw out anything that smells or looks suspicious.
Canned foods may be harmful if they look swollen, have leakages, punctured, or have a hole. If it has rust or denting that can prevent you from opening it with a can opener, then it’s damaged. Be wary of stickiness on the can’s exterior. It may indicate a leak.
Tip#5: Look out for mold:
Mold is another sign of spoilage and can grow even when the food is under refrigeration. It’s best to dispose of it. Even though it may not make you sick, it makes the food lose its taste.
Foods stored in the freezer are less likely to grow mold. But when you keep them for very long periods, they may reduce in flavor or aroma. Their nutrients won’t decrease, but their quality will.
Ensure you keep your food properly chilled. It’ll prevent the growth of bacteria.
Tip#6: Keep raw food separately:
It’s best to store fresh foods separately. Please don’t put them together with ready-to-eat food. That’ll encourage spoilage.
Tip#7: Keep all storage areas clean:
Clean all your storage areas. It’ll prevent the growth and spread of bacteria or pests.
Clean your refrigerator regularly to prevent drips from one food transferring to another.
Tip#8: Store non-perishables properly:
It’ll help if you store non-perishable foods properly. Never keep them close to chemicals or cleaning products. It may lead to poisoning.
Tip#9: Cover foods:
Ensure you cover food when you store them. Refrigerated foods should be in sealed storage bags or containers. It’s better to leave eggs in their carton when you refrigerate them. That’s because the temperature at the refrigerator door is warmer.
Make sure you store dry food items in sealable containers. It’ll prevent the spread of storage pests like weevils.
Tip#10: Look out for expiration dates:
Always check the expiration dates of food before you use them. It’s the manufacturers’ recommendation for the best time to use the product. After this period, it’ll lose its best quality, texture, flavor, or nutrient content.
If you remove food from its original container, indicate its date before transferring it into another one.
Would you please throw out any food that’s long past the expiration period? Ensure you use food with closer expiration dates before using the ones that have farther dates. To make it easier, arrange items according to the expiration dates when storing them.
Ways You Can Keep Your Food Stored Correctly
One good way to store food is freezing. It’s useful for storing and preserving lots of food items. From soups to veggies to baby purees, you can freeze almost any food.
You can store foods for an extended period if you maintain your freezer. The temperature should be below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Then you can thaw and cook them whenever you want.
Sometimes, you may forget some old food items for an extended period in the freezer. To avoid this, always put newer foods at the back and bring the older ones forward. You can also use a permanent marker to write the date on the container.
Idea#2: Dehydrating or drying:
It’s an excellent way of preserving and storing vegetables, herbs, and fruits. It’s also a cheap method of food preservation. When you dry your food items, it becomes easier to preserve them, reducing their size.
Drying food removes moisture from it, and that stops bacterial growth. You can do it through sun-drying, air-drying, oven-drying, or using a commercial dehydrator. If you dry it effectively, the water content should be about 20% or less.
You can dip some fruits and vegetables in boiling water before drying them. It’ll help in their preservation.
You’ll find that the food flavor increases after drying.
It’s a process that makes low acid food acidic, with improved shelf-life. It promotes the intake of good bacteria (probiotics), and that’s great for immunity and digestion.
Fermenting starts with bacteria preserving and boosting the nutrients in the raw food. All you have to do is grate or chop the food. Then choose any culture of your choice like whey, salt, or a starter culture.
Next, prepare and add brine. And then put everything in a tight container. Please keep it in a cold environment (60-75 degrees Fahrenheit).
Make sure you use clean materials and fresh food. You may also use lots of salt (about 1-3 tablespoons per quart of water) for the process. That’s because it aids preservation and prevents mold.
Fermented food hardly develops mold. But in case you notice it, remove the top layer. The portion underneath is okay (as long as it smells and tastes that way). When you’re in doubt, throw it out.
Another way you can store food correctly is by canning. It’s a great way to preserve food at home. It also maintains food quality and is cost-effective. Some foods that you can store this way include vegetables, baby purees, and applesauce.
To can properly, first wash the fresh food you want to store and sterilize the jars. Then peel and hot pack the food if needed. Next, add vinegar or lemon juice if the product is not acidic enough.
Place the canning jar in boiling water when you’re storing high-acid fruits and vegetables. If they are less acidic, use a pressure canner. That’ll prevent bacterial growth. Ensure the jars have air-tight lids and store them at the correct temperatures.
Even though your food loses few vitamins during the process, it still retains significant nutritional value. Vegetables are more likely to maintain their nutrition if canned quickly and adequately.
One good thing about canned food is that you can eat it right out of the container. You won’t need to do anything to prepare it for eating.
Another excellent storage method is pickling. You can use it for diverse foods, such as cauliflowers, cucumbers, cabbage, beets, and even fruits.
Pickling involves preserving food in an acidic solution. You can do it through natural fermentation or by adding salt and vinegar. It serves to extend the shelf life and minimize spoilage.
You can do this at home. All you need is the acidic brine solution (vinegar, salt, water, and sugar, which is optional). Then you can get an air-tight container and get your fruit or vegetable ready for pickling.
Idea#6: Cold storage:
It involves storing food in a refrigerator or an underground root cellar. Products stored using this method can last for several months if you do it correctly. So ensure you follow the proper temperature and storage conditions to improve their shelf life.
The temperature of your refrigerator should be about 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
Some foods that you can store with this method include celery, apples, and root vegetables. However, don’t store them close to each other. That’s because many vegetables and fruits release ethylene gas. And it ripens other things stored around them.
It’s essential to know the right time to place each fruit or veggie in the fridge. Some food like grapes, green onions, and strawberries can go in right away. But pears, peaches, and avocados have to get ripe before you put them in.
Additionally, some produce like ginger, pomegranates, and mandarin oranges are best at room temperature. So, keep them off the refrigerator.
You can store your food at a minimum of six inches above the ground. It serves not only to preserve the food but to avoid contamination.
Ensure you store your food items in an air-tight container, whether in the fridge, freezer, or storeroom. Adopting the best storage practices will help keep your family from illnesses related to food.