Think of the Christmas holiday season, there is always a lot of food and leftovers. Don’t worry; it’s not because of your cooking. It’s because people tend to cook more over the holidays for relatives and friends who come to visit. These visitors often bring additional delicious foods to share. That’s the reason why there’s a lot of leftovers. What do you do with them? Definitely not throw them away.
Here are some of our tips to help you store your food and leftovers properly:
Don’t let other foods in your fridge savour the taste of your fresh meats. Place fresh meats at the bottom of the fridge where they can’t leak on other foods and keep them away from your vegetables. Imagine your leftover cake tasting like fish. Err, yummy? You can also put meat in plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping.
The optimal fridge temperature for food storage is below 50C (400F). Your freezer is a different story and should be set at -150C to -180C (50F to 00F). These cold temperatures prevent bacteria from celebrating and multiplying in your food. It’s a good idea to buy a thermometer if your fridge doesn’t have a thermostat.
Fish, poultry, and raw ground meat can be stored in your fridge for up to 2 days or as recommended under the usage date on the packet. Fresh meat like chops, roasts, and steaks can be stored up to a maximum of 5 days. If you can’t cook them before these deadlines, then freeze them.
How about those unopened boxes or packages of deli meats? They can be stored in your fridge for up to two weeks. If you open them, they should be consumed within 5 days. Deli meats include prosciutto (Yummy!), pastrami, salami, sausages, ham, turkey breast, and others. Make sure you also check their ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ dates.
For optimal food safety, cook thawed fish, poultry, and meat immediately (right after thawing). Also, make sure you thaw them in your fridge rather than on the bench.
Special note on raw eggs. Cook them as soon as you can after bringing them out of your fridge. You don’t want to increase your family’s risk of Salmonella infection.
Here come the leftovers. Unfinished portions should be placed in your fridge right after eating. You can serve them again up to a maximum of 3 to 4 days. The second set of leftovers (and we hope it’s the last) should be returned to the fridge within 2 hours after reheating. Allow warm or hot foods to cool down before putting them in the fridge. Lastly, it’s vital to remember that the quality of leftover food diminishes each time you reheat it.
Let’s not forget about dry foods. According to food experts from the Colorado State University, dry foods can be safely stored in the cupboard for up to six months or even longer if you’re careful. Just remember that if you open the package, better move the leftover food to an air-tight or properly sealed container to guarantee freshness. Proper storage of dry food also shields them from pesky and ugly bugs called weevils which literally destroy your food, not to mention your appetite when you see them.
Practice a FIRST IN, FIRST OUT rotation system for the dry foods stored in your pantry or cupboard. Older food items are then consumed before new ones.
Some foods are more likely to cause food poisoning. Harmful bacteria love certain types of food, and they tend to multiply in them faster.
Proper food storage and preparation are critical for food safety. They safeguard your family against foodborne illnesses from bad microorganisms like Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli. Just don’t forget to wash your hands before and after you store and prepare your food. Follow the practical tips provided here, and you’re on your way to a great start!