Food preservation is a big concern of ours. There’s nothing we hate more than food going to waste. And one of the ways to prevent wastage is learning how to store food properly. Not only does it prevent food going off it is also a matter of health – some foods should never be kept near each other, and some foods should always be handled carefully when raw. We’ve gathered all our knowledge to write this complete guide to food preservation, so you don’t have to worry anymore.
Food Preservation: The Fridge
Ah, the fridge. So many people don’t know how to stock their fridges properly. They have different temperature zones for different foods, which have to be kept at cold temperatures so that nasty bacteria don’t flourish. First things first: never refrigerate tomatoes, onions, squashes or potatoes. They don’t need to be refrigerated and the cold temperatures can actually make them taste worse, lose lots of their flavour, and go bad quicker. In the veg drawers you should keep fruit in one compartment and vegetables in the other – don’t mix them as they actually produce small quantities of chemicals that can make them go off quicker when kept next to each other. On the first shelf make sure you keep eggs, any dairy products, and all your raw meat. Never put raw meat on a higher shelf as, if there’s a spillage you could end up being very ill. On the upper shelves you can store herbs, ready-to-eat meals, drinks, and leftovers. And of course, in the doors, store all your juices, condiments and so on.
Food Preservation: The Counter
You can keep garlic, onions, shallots on the counter in a Kilner jar for up to two weeks. If you put them in the fridge they will lose most of their flavour and turn squishy. Also make sure you keep bananas, lemons and melons but once you cut them up put them in the fridge. As for bread? You can store bread in its bag in a bread bin and if you want to keep it for longer we suggest popping it in the freezer to use later. A top tip? Any crusty, stale bread, can be used for croutons or a quick and easy amateur bruschetta.
Food Preservation: Safety First
Always make sure that you follow the instructions on any meat or seafood you buy, as some raw foods can carry harmful bacteria such as E.coli that can result in people getting very ill. Make sure you keep meat in its original packaging in the refrigerator and once you open the packet, either transfer the leftover raw meat into a plastic container or seal it up again with clingfilm. Never leave it open in the fridge. To freeze you can either put the individual pieces in freezable bags or just freeze the entire container. As for seafood, make sure you keep it in its original packaging and you can also store that in a bowl of ice in the fridge. Any live seafood shouldn’t be put on ice, though, and instead should be kept in an airy place so that they can continue to breathe. Always make sure to check how long your food can be kept in the freezer for, as contrary to popular belief foods still go back even when frozen. We’ve created a quick guide below so that you don’t have to worry. How long will it last? Beef and Lamb Chops – refrigerator for 3 days, freezer for 6 months Minced meat and premade burgers – refrigerator for 2 days, freezer for 4 months Sausages – refrigerator for 2 days, freezer for 2 months Steaks – refrigerator for 3 days, freezer for 6 months Cold cuts – refrigerator for 5 days, freezer for 2 months Packaged sliced meats – refrigerator for 2 weeks if unopen, otherwise 5 days, freezer for 2 months Hot dogs – refrigerator for 1 week if open, freezer for 2 months Cured sausages – refrigerator for 3 months unopened and 6 weeks if open, don’t freeze Bacon – refrigerator for 1 week if open, freezer for 1 month Chicken pieces – refrigerator for 2 days, freezer for 4 months Whole chicken – refrigerator for 2 days, freezer for 6 months Clams – refrigerator for 2 days if alive, 1 day if out of shell, freezer for 3 months Crab – if alive, refrigerator for 1 day, do not freeze Crabmeat – refrigerator for 1 month if unopened and 5 days if open, freezer for 3 months Salmon, mackerel – refrigerator for 2 days, do not freeze White fish – refrigerator for 2 days, freezer for 6 months Lobster – if alive, refrigerator for 2 days, do not freeze Mussels – refrigerator for 2 days if alive, 1 day if not, freezer for 4 months Oysters – refrigerator for 2 days if alive, 1 day if not, freezer for 4 months Scallops – refrigerator for 2 days, freezer for 3 months Prawns – refrigerator for 3 days if cooked, freezer for 3 months if cooked, 6 months if fresh. If you’re concerned about where to keep your foods, there are plenty of other resources available for you to find out more information. One of the most important things to remember is to keep your food separate and always be cautious. When handling raw meat be careful to wash your hands with antibacterial soap as it’s incredibly easy for bacteria such as Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens and Staphylococcus aureus to spread to cleaning supplies such as sponges. If you think you have food poisoning make sure to go and see your doctor. But good food is what we love at La Belle Assiette. And we believe that by ensuring you know food preservation essentials you can make sure that your food tastes the best it can possibly taste, and you’ll waste less in the process.