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Simple Food Storage Guidelines

By following Food Storage Guidelines, you can maintain the quality and taste of your food and prevent yourself and others from becoming ill due to foodborne illness. This post is intended to provide you with some simple guidelines for food storage.

This post was contributed to by Cuisipro Kitchenware. No compensation was received by Hostess At Heart.

Storage containers filled with food sitting on a counter.
Close up of female hands holding glass containers with fresh raw vegetables

By preserving color, flavor, texture, and nutrients in food, appropriate home food storage contributes to food safety and quality. Foods that are stored properly can last much longer. Here are some of the greatest tips for maintaining the freshness of all your food. Let’s start!

3 Types of Storage

There are three types of storage that I’ll address here.

  1. Dry storage
  2. Refrigeration
  3. Freezing

I’ll also provide you with food storage temperature guidelines and simple tips for shopping and the proper storage of fresh produce.

Keep Out of Temperature Danger Zone

The shelf life of many staples and canned foods is quite long. Food stored for longer than suggested or beyond the expiration date on the packaging may lose quality, color, and flavor.

Bacteria that contribute to food poisoning thrive and multiply at their fastest above 41°F (5°C). High-risk foods should be kept out of this temperature range. Some types of food allow bacteria to grow and replicate more easily than others. High-risk food that needs extra attention are the following:

  • Dairy products
  • Raw and cooked meat 
  • Cooked rice, pasta
  • Seafood, including fish balls, dish stock, etc. 
  • Dressed salads
  • Eggs and egg products
  • Prepared fruits and vegetables 

And let’s learn about the low-risk foods as well: 

  • Dry foods, such as biscuits, bread, crisps, cakes without creams, and cereals
  • Preserved food, including salted fish
  • Acidic foods, such as lemons, oranges, apples
  • Fermented products
  • High-sugar foods, such as chocolate, jam, etc. 
  • Canned food — packaged, canned, and jarred foods can become high-risk foods once opened and should be handled and stored properly.
Containers of fresh vegetables in a refrigerator
Frozen food in the refrigerator. Vegetables on the freezer shelves.

Food Storage Refrigerator Guidelines

You need to keep your refrigerator temperature below 40°F (4 degrees Celsius). You can find out its temperature using a thermometer.

Place food into storage containers before placing it in a refrigerator to make it last longer. With that in mind, proper food storage containers are a must. Here are some other points you can consider: 

  • When buying a product, always check the expiration date to ensure that your buying the freshest and making sure that you can use the product or eat it before it expires. 
  • Look at the temperature ranges mentioned on the label of the product and follow the handling recommendations. 
  • Ensure that your food storage containers are clean and in good working order and that they are solely used to store food. To prevent contamination, cover them with tight-fitting lids, plastic film, or foil. 
  • Food should be checked for use-by dates and discarded if it is out of date. 
  • Refrigerate raw and cooked foods separately. Germs from raw food can affect cold cooked food, and if the food isn’t completely cooked again, the bacteria can spread to harmful levels.
  • Raw food should always be stored at the bottom of the fridge in covered food containers. To prevent liquids such as meat juices from trickling down and contaminating the cooked food, place them below cooked foods. Also known as cross-contamination.
  • Leftover food should be placed in shallow dishes or divided into smaller servings and then placed in the refrigerator. Do not put extremely hot food in the refrigerator. Before putting the meal in the fridge, wait until the steam that comes out of it has gone.

The FDA food storage guidelines have a two-hour rule that states you should never allow meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, produce, or other foods should be refrigerated to sit at room temperature for more than two hours, one hour if the air temperature is above 90° F (32°C) This also applies to items such as leftovers or take-out foods.

Frozen Food Storage Guidelines

When using a refrigerator/freezer thermometer, ensure the freezer is at 0°F (-18°C) or lower. Freezing can definitely keep food safe. Since bacteria that cause food poisoning can grow in frozen food as it thaws, avoid thawing frozen food in the temperature danger zone (when the temperature range is above 40° F (5°C), bacteria grow faster. Store defrosted food in the refrigerator until you’re ready to prepare it. 

Avoid refreezing thawed food as a general rule. Food that has been frozen twice is more likely to contain bacteria that cause food poisoning. 

Loss of Electricity

According to the FDA if you lose electricity, a full freezer should stay cold enough for 48 hours as long as the door isn’t opened. Once the power is restored, if the food contains food crystals or is below 40° F (5°C), it is safe to refreeze.

Shopping Tips

When shopping, it’s essential to buy frozen and chilled foods at the end and then store it at home as fast as possible. if the outside is hot, then it’s better to take an ice pack to keep cold foods frozen. And always separate hot and cold foods when taking them home. Once you are at home, put frozen foods in the freezer as soon as you can. 

Herbs sitting in a jar of water

Put Greens in a Glass of Water

Fresh herbs and green onions can all be stored in a tall glass of freshwater upright. Simply trim the stems, cover them in plastic wrap, and store them in the refrigerator. Refresh the water, and remove any decaying parts as you see them, just as you would with a bouquet of flowers. 

Store Fruits and Vegetables Properly

  • Regularly check your fresh vegetables and eliminate any pieces that have become mushy or show signs of mold.
  • Fruits and vegetables should be kept separate.
  • Store unripe avocados and fresh fruit at room temperature. Move them to the fruit drawer once they’re ripe to avoid spoiling.
  • Keep bananas, apples, tomatoes, and citrus separate from other products as they produce ethylene gas which makes other products ripen quickly.
  • Almost all sturdy fruits and vegetables can be kept at room temperature for a few days if necessary. 

And regarding berries, they last for a few days at room temperature, but they’ll stay longer in the refrigerator’s fruit drawer. Put them on top of everything else to avoid smashing. 

This is a basic food storage guideline for you, I recommend that you consult the FDA to prevent food poisoning and keep products safe.

The Cuispro blog has a wealth of information to keep us safe as well as the storage containers and tools every kitchen needs. I’d like to thank them for the contribution to this valuable poost.

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Containers of fresh vegetables

Tristin

Wednesday 25th of May 2022

These are some great tips especially the temperature danger zones! Very useful post!

Jennifer

Monday 23rd of May 2022

Great tips! I love the one for fresh herbs. I can never seem to get mine to last more than 5 minutes!

Julie Menghini

Monday 23rd of May 2022

Awesome! Thanks, Jennifer!

Michaela Kenkel

Monday 23rd of May 2022

So many helpful hints!! Thank you!! We have so many leftovers now that we are empty nesters!

Julie Menghini

Monday 23rd of May 2022

Thank you!