Failure to properly prepare, store, and handle food can cause the bacteria in it to multiply to dangerous levels. The bacteria frequently becomes a cause of food poisoning in many people. In addition, a great amount of food goes to waste due to spoilage. Statistics suggest that about 31% (approximately 133 billion pounds) of the overall food supply is wasted in the United States each year.
The Natural Resources Defence Council claims that about two-thirds of household food waste happens due to spoilage. Therefore, it is important to think of some practices at home that can help preserve the food and keep it fresh for a long time. Continue reading to discover some ways that might be helpful in this regard.
Keep the food at the right temperature.
The shelf life of food ultimately comes down to where and how you store it. Storing food at the appropriate temperature can help preserve its freshness and quality. On the other hand, improper storage conditions, especially inadequate temperature, can lead to quick food spoilage. Therefore, the temperature of your freezer or refrigerator is crucial in this regard. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, your refrigerator’s temperature should be set at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and 0 degrees is ideal for the freezer.
Similarly, it is also essential for food supply chains to maintain a constant temperature range during the transportation and storage of their food products. This is because many food products are adversely affected by changes in temperature. Therefore, they should be shipped in a controlled environment to prevent deterioration.
In order to resolve this issue, many temperature control packaging options are available for temperature-sensitive food items. The packaging options include gel packs, EPS molded coolers, insulated shippers, pouches, and more. By using one of these packaging materials, you can ensure the quality and freshness of temperature-sensitive food products.
Use air-tight containers and bags for food storage.
One of the major reasons why foods go rancid is the oxidation that occurs upon their contact with air or moisture. You might have read instructions like “keep in an air-tight container after opening” on the labels of almost all the foods products, right? This is because air-tight containers and bags are designed to prevent moisture and contamination from coming in direct contact with food. As a result, they help keep the foods protected and fresh for a much longer time. Therefore, air-tight food storage boxes are ideal for preserving food in the kitchen as well as while traveling.
Keeping your food in air-tight kitchen storage boxes also helps minimize bacterial growth and activity. Moreover, these household containers are sealed and leak-proof, so they can also protect the food from spillage or any bugs and ants. All kinds of flours should be kept in air-tight containers to protect them from getting clumpy after moisture absorption. Similarly, pulses, whole grains, sugar, and spices can also be kept in these containers.
Do not mindlessly rely on expiration dates.
The best before or expiry dates that are mentioned on meat, poultry, and other foods items do not indicate that the foods should be tossed after that exact date has arrived. The chief purpose of expiration dates is to inform retailers and consumers how long they can expect the food to be in its best quality and flavor. You do not necessarily need to throw out the foods right on the expiration date.
It is always better to rely on your senses to figure out whether the food is okay to eat or not. You can observe the aroma and taste of the foods product to judge if it is still fresh and edible. By doing so, you will be able to save the fresh foods from being wasted. Therefore, it is totally safe to eat the food a couple of days after its expiration date has passed. Just ensure that it passes the visual and smell test before you eat it.
Segregate the different foods.
Keeping the different types of foods separate is one great way of keeping them fresh for a long time. Especially in the case of fruits and vegetables, remember to store them segregated in the fridge. Storing fruits and vegetables together can make them ripe or rot very quickly. Fruits and vegetables release different amounts of ethylene (a ripening hormone) that causes them to ripen faster.
It is important to know which fruits and vegetables emit ethylene gas and which ones are ethylene-sensitive. Why? Because you should never store ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables with those that are sensitive to ethylene. For example, never store bananas and apples next to each other. By storing them separately, you can reduce spoilage and wastage and maximize the freshness of these fruits. On the other hand, please do not keep the rotten fruits with fresh fruits, as it will cause them to rot as well.
Keep the bread covered.
To love fresh bread, one must accept the fact that bread has a very short shelf-life, typically floating between two to three days. However, you can take a few steps to keep it in its most perfect and fresh state, even if just for a couple of days. Store the bread in the freezer instead of a refrigerator. It slows down the staling and reduces the risk of mold growth.
And if you are storing the bread on the counter, the best is to keep it wrapped in paper instead of plastic. Keeping the bread in plastic bags does not let the bread breathe and lets moisture get to the bread, causing mold spores to propagate quickly. And if needed, you can cover it with a paper bag to cover the exposed ends.
No one likes wasting or throwing away good foods, whether it is purchased from a store or cooked at home. To avoid food wastage and spoilage, one must think about effective ways to maximize the shelf-life of food products. Keeping the food fresh for longer intervals is possible by being mindful and following some guidelines, such as those mentioned in this article. Ultimately, preserving food for longer can save you money and will be beneficial for the environment since rotting food that ends up in landfills can emit methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas!