Thursday, June 21, 2012

Where to put away

Let's continue with Food Week! Today we're going to talk about how to store all those delicious products we bought at the store yesterday.

Imagine, you walk through your front door with all your shopping bags. What do you do next?? Turn on the TV, change your clothes or sit down and read? NO! You get in that kitchen as soon as you walk in and you start putting things away. This not only helps keep your kitchen clean, but as I'll show you in a minute, it will also keep your food in better conditions and avoid nasty food poisoning. 

Remember when we were at the supermarket yesterday, we divided all the products into three categories: fresh/dry, refrigerated and frozen. Well, today I need you to remember these categories as we should put the products away in the opposite order we picked them up at the store (does that make any sense?). First, put away frozen foods, then the refrigerated ones and lastly the ones you store in a dry, cool place. 

We do this in this order for the same reason we picked them up that way in the store: to reduce the multiplication of bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause food poisoning (and we don't want that, do we?). 

So, what happens when we put things away in the fridge or in the freezer? Well, it turns out bacteria prefer higher temperatures to grow, so even though most of the time it won't kill them, it will stop them multiplicating or at least slow it down. 

We must be extra careful with putting food away as soon as possible when the weather is hotter, such as in the summer. 

Things you can do to avoid increasing the temperature of cooler products include taking the least possible time to get home (this is, don't stop and see your mother on the way home), putting frozen foods in cooling bags and separating cold foods from the room temperature ones when we put them in bags at the store. 

When putting things in the freezer, there are some tips that might come in handy:
- The ideal temperature is -18ºC. 
- For raw meats, the best thing to do is to take it out of it's original packaging and divide it into smaller portions. You can put these in freezer bags and mark the contents and date with a permanent marker, trying to remove as much air as possible before closing the bag. 
- When it comes to freezing fresh vegetables, we should place them in boiling water for 1-2 minutes to eliminate as many bacteria as possible. 
- Eggs should not be frozen whole, they should be divided into beaten eggs, beaten yolks or whites, kept in glass jars. 
- When freezing cooked foods, we should wait for them to cool down before putting them in hard containers (preferably glass) with no cracks or holes. 

Each food group has it's own limited freezing times:
Time in freezer
Blue fish and seafood
2 months
White fish
5 months
Meat and Poultry
6-8 months
12 months
3 months

When it comes to putting things in the fridge, everything has it's own place:
- All raw meats should be placed on the bottom shelf in your fridge, as they can drip and contaminate foods around them. When defrosting items, we should also put them on the bottom shelf, and preferrably on a plate. 
- On the middle shelf we can put leftover, sauces (such as mayonnaise and ketchup) and deli meats, as these foods won't be cooked. 
- The top shelf is the best place to keep dairy products and eggs, not the door where the temperature constantly change everytime we open it. 
- In the bottom drawers we can keep fruit and vegetables, separate if possible
- In the door we can keep drinks that are going to be consumed in less than 3-4 days. 

This is a draft of how my fridge should be organized:
It's also very important to check your fridge for products that have passed their sell by date and clean it often to remove stains and avoid odors (that can stick to other foods!). We should also leave space between products so that the air can move between them, keeping them cool. The ideal temperature is 1-5ºC

Each different product can stay in the fridge for a limited amount of time. For food that doesn't come with a sell by date (for the butchers or the fruit stall), here a couple of guidelines:
Time in fridge
Fish and minced meat
1 day
Raw and cooked meat and cooked fish
2-3 days
Open cartons of UHT and pasteurized milk, cooked vegetables and homemade desserts
3-4 days
Raw vegetables and open jars
4-5 days
Up to 5 days
2-3 weeks

So now you know!! I'm sure you'll be careful the next time you get back from a trip to the store! I hope this was helpful for at least some of you, I'm sure some of you already knew and probably know more than me =D

See you again tomorrow for the last part of the series!!

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