15 Edible Items Which Are Being Stored Incorrectly You must Be Aware Of

Food is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Granted, there are some food products which families could live without but on the whole, food is… Simi - February 25, 2018

Food is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Granted, there are some food products which families could live without but on the whole, food is not something people can go without. Cooking and preparing meals at home is the best possible way to ensure a balanced and nutritious lifestyle. This way, you know exactly what and how much is going into the dishes you are consuming.

Purchasing the right ingredients is the first step to producing a delicious meal. To maintain the integrity of these products, the next step, therefore, is to store them correctly. With global starvation on the rise along with the cost of food, it is paramount to reduce the amount of food that households waste each year.

Eating what you purchase is not that difficult. By simply putting in a little more effort, the amount of food that lands up in the bin can be sufficiently diminished. Mindfulness ought to be practiced at the store, and this needs to be continued all the way into the kitchen. Firstly, plan your meals for the week. This way you will not be buying unnecessary ingredients in uselessly large quantities.

Secondly, food needs to be stored correctly. This does not only apply to fresh ingredients. Obviously, fruit and vegetables will go bad if they are left in an incorrect place, but the same is true for other products which are mistakenly considered non-perishable. These are 15 food products which must be stored correctly if their integrity is to be maintained.

1. Ground coffee and coffee beans

Starting the day with a cup of coffee is a morning routine which millions of people hold dear. There are some that are unable to function without their morning dose of caffeine. While there are some who hit their local barrister on the way to work, others still go the old-fashioned route and make their own coffee at home. If you form part of this club, then it is important to store these beans correctly.

Whether your elixir of choice is made with beans or premade grounds, both need to be stored in the appropriate containers if the optimum taste experience is to be achieved. Coffee cannot be stored in any old container. The correct container is one which is airtight. This is because heat and moisture can totally wreck coffee beans. When coffee grounds are immersed in hot water, they dissolve, and the resulting liquid is what we call coffee. These grounds can dissolve in water, but they can also absorb moisture from the air. This is known as a hygroscopic substance.

Coffee beans that can absorb surrounding moisture will have reduced flavor and freshness. The second threat to the quality of coffee is a fluctuation of temperature. This is the case when coffee is stored in the refrigerator. If coffee beans are taken out of the icebox a few times a day, they undergo a sudden change in temperature. This will directly impact the flavor of the resulting cup of coffee.

Flavour and freshness are the key ingredients to a cup of coffee. To give your mind and body the optimum kick in the morning that it needs, never let your coffee grounds prematurely come into contact with heat or moisture.

2. Condiments

It is a safe bet that every western household has at least tomato sauce or mustard in their kitchen. The definition of a condiment is one which is added to a dish to add or enhance its flavor. It can even be considered one which completes a dish. This is not exactly a giant leap in logic. Consider the last time you ate a hotdog without adding ketchup to it. Or eaten a corndog that was not laden with mustard.

These ingredients, which are included to elevate the taste experience, obviously need to retain their flavor. A flavorless additive is completely useless. Ketchup which does not taste like ketchup anymore may as well be thrown in the bin unless what you are looking for is slightly red tainted food.

To save money, some households buy products like this in bulk. This is not necessarily a problem, but it should be noted that these cannot be stored in a pantry indefinitely. Even if the bottles are still sealed, leaving them at room temperature will diminish the taste over time. If possible, it is best to store them in the refrigerator.

The same is true for condiments that have been opened. Unless you form part of an extremely large family or are involved in the catering business, condiments are not opened and finished in the same sitting. They are kept open for a few weeks or even months. Once these condiments have been opened, they need to be placed directly in the icebox immediately after use. This will increase their shelf-life and maintain the intense flavor of the product. By storing these products correctly, they can be safely consumed for months without any lessening of their flavor.

3. Medicine

Everyone gets sick. People go to the gym, eat healthily, get flu shots and visit their doctor for regular check-ups all in the attempt to avoid the inevitable. But whether it is a few times a year or only during flu season, everyone gets sick. It is a completely unavoidable fact of life.

 A few hundred years ago the common cold may very well have been a death sentence. This is not the case in the 21st century. We have the marvel which is modern medicine. When we get the sniffles, we pop a pill. When our noses run we pop a pill. Name an ailment and along with it comes a whole host of pills, ointments and such which claim to eradicate the offending virus. These claims made by pharmaceutical companies may very well be true. But, incorrectly stored medicine could land up being wholly useless.

Medicine does not belong in the bathroom. Forget the fact that there are germs in the bathroom and that there is a conveniently named ‘medicine’ cabinet in there too. Moisture, light, cold and heat all can impair the efficacy of medicine. This means that a steamy shower room and even a fridge are most certainly not the correct storage places.

All medicine should be placed in an area which is not hindered by light (sunlight or otherwise), moisture or cold. This could be in a dark cupboard in the kitchen or even drawer in the bedroom. By storing medicine in the optimal environment, their efficacy will be maintained. These pills which have not been damaged by the elements will aid in curing one’s ailments and not land up worsening one’s symptoms.

4. Wine

People love wine. There are some who even spend thousands of dollars and countless years honing their wine-tasting skills. Wine drinking is a tradition which forms an integral part of many activities. An art gallery opening without the accompanying wine is absolutely unheard of. Eating a top-grade steak without paring it with a glass of wine is almost ludicrous. Not only is wine inseparable from jolly occasions but as we get older the quality of this beverage increases. Along with a better bottle of wine comes a matching price-tag. A good bottle of wine does not come cheap.

While unlikely, it is not unheard of for people to not finish the whole bottle in one sitting. This is absolutely fine, but storing wine incorrectly is not. Everyone knows that wine should be stored in a wine-cellar but not many people know why. The first reason is that of the climate. A wine-cellar is not encumbered with direct sunlight. This kind of light can severely impact the quality of the wine. Secondly, in a wine-cellar, bottles are stored on their sides.

Cork on a wine bottle does not only keep the wine from spilling out. It stops air from getting in. A dry cork cannot properly do its job. When this happens, air enters the bottle which can spoil the wine. But, a wine bottle which is stored on its sides keeps the cork moist and thus maintains the integrity of the wine.

With this being said, a wine cellar is not feasible in every household. Storing wine on a wine rack is totally acceptable. This is if the rack is stored in a position which is not in direct sunlight. Wine definitely should not be kept on top or inside of the fridge. Both of these will dry up the cork and spoil the wine.

5. Bread

Bread is a staple food. Not only does it form part of most people’s diets, but it can be eaten at literally any time of the day. Bread can be eaten with eggs for breakfast, with absolutely anything in the form of a sandwich or even dipped in a soup for dinner. Only people who are actively avoiding carbohydrates don’t have bread at the top of their shopping list. If you are not on a banting or paleo diet and are not gluten intolerant then the chances are you have at least one loaf of bread at home. A second unassailable fact is that you are probably storing your bread incorrectly.

These days we tend to put everything in the fridge. The generally accepted idea being that heat spoils food. For a lot of food, this is true. For bread, it is not. Brown, wholegrain, seed, rye and white bread are all made out of wheat flour. Name a bread, any bread, and guaranteed it is made out of wheat flour.

This type of flour has starch granules. If these come into contact with moisture, then they start to degrade. Broken down starch granules make for dry bread and dry bread is bread that goes stale quickly. This process makes the fridge, which is essentially a cool and moist environment, completely the wrong place for bread.

This is where bread containers come in. They provide a home for bread which is neither warm nor moist.  Bread stored in these dry and cool places tends to last longer than other locations. If you are living in a naturally humid climate, then it is advisable to buy fresh bread as frequently as possible.

6. Shallots, onions, and garlic

It is very difficult to name a dish which does not have one of these three ingredients. Some dishes may even have all of them rolled up in one delicious bunch. Whichever your preference and whatever the cuisine, onions, garlic, and shallots will most definitely make an appearance. They form the base for dishes such as curries and are the star ingredient in a recipe for French onion soup.

While people may use a few of these at least a few times a day, they are not necessarily bought every day. And they don’t need to be. Alliums such as these can safely be kept for a few weeks, this is assuming that they are stored correctly.

Heat may be the enemy to vegetables like tomatoes, but the exact opposite is true for alliums. This is not to say that these must be left in the sun. This simply means that they must not be placed in the fridge. The combination of a cool and moist environment encourages the processes of both rooting and rotting. An overripe onion is an onion which will produce copious amounts of tears.

All three of these should be stored in a warm and dry location. This could either be in a bowl on the countertop or in basket selves. The key is to ensure that they are kept in a well-ventilated area. Alliums are also very pungent products, so they should be stored separately from other fresh ingredients. If they are left next to things like fruit or vegetables, then the sulfur compounds which are present could land up spoiling these products.

7. Flour

There are probably not many people on this earth who actually know the taste of flour. They could name multiple things that flour is made out of, but they couldn’t tell you its specific taste. This is because flour is a base, not a star ingredient. It forms part of so many different types of dishes. It can thicken things, raise things, adds bulk to dishes and so much more.

Having flour in the cupboard is something that a lot of people take for granted. Unless you are an avid baker, you probably can’t remember when you bought that bag of flour that is sitting on the shelf. It could have been months ago for all you know.

Guaranteed, the process went something like this. You needed a small amount of flour for some new dish and discovered that there was no flour left. To improvise you used something else and went ahead an added flour to the shopping list. Next time you hit the shops you loaded a bag in the trolley and when you got home the new bag of flour found its place on the shelf. This is where it will remain, in its paper packaging, for a few months at least. This all sounds pretty average, doesn’t it? This is also the incorrect way to store flour.

White flour needs to be stored in an airtight container that is left in a cool and dry place. Flours that have more oil, such as nut or wheat flours, should be kept in the freezer. These can go bad rather quickly if they are left in a warm environment. All of which should never be left in the original packaging.

8. Basil

The Italian nation sure know how to cook. Who doesn’t love a homemade pasta which has a sprinkling of fresh basil on the top? Someone who can say no to that must be an odd sight. It is safe to say that basil is a firm favorite. It is for this reason that when it is stocked at the grocery store, people tend to bulk up on the fresh and delectable leaves. For a few days they try to include it in every meal they prepare because basil is amazing, but inevitably in a couple of days the leaves turn black and they land up in the bin.

This does not mean that all help is lost. You do not have to simply stop buying the herb because it goes bad too quickly. If the herbs are stored correctly, then black basil need only be a thing of the past. The key to preserving the freshness and bright green color of basil is moisture and temperature.

Ideally, plants like this should be kept in an environment which closely resembles its natural habitat. This means that basil will last longer if the stems are placed in a glass of water on a sunny windowsill. This will stop the herb from dying and it might even start sprouting roots which could be planted in the garden.

If for whatever reason, this is not an option then the fridge is suitable. But, packaging and placement are important. The stems should be wrapped up in a damp paper towel and then put into a plastic bag. This must be placed in a crisp drawer or in the door of the fridge. The door is not as cold as the rest of the fridge and will keep the leaves from being destroyed by the cold climate.

9. Potatoes

Potatoes are bought in bulk. This is partially because they are mainly sold this way and party because we use so many of them on a weekly basis. Potatoes can be served boiled, mashed, fried, baked or even as a component of larger dishes. They are versatile, they are delicious, and they can be eaten by absolutely every member of the family. If the Irish love them and Matt Damon can survive on the on Mars, then why not stock up on these roots and go to town on them every day. This is absolutely fine and provided that these potatoes are not drenched in oil, butter or cream, they do make for a perfectly suitable and affordable staple.

But, they must be stored correctly. They cannot be stored in the fridge or in direct sunlight. The cold fridge will make them gritty and sweet while the sun will stimulate toxin growth. This is both a health hazard and a taste hazard.

Potatoes need to be kept in a location that is both cool and dry. This could be in a pantry or in basket drawers. They should be stored separate from other fruits, as these could land up taken on the flavor of potatoes. While potatoes are great, this is wildly undesirable.

If you have prewashed your potatoes, then ensure that they are completely dry before packing them away. Potatoes can start photosynthesizing and sprouting roots if the optimum environment for this is produced. Rotting is also a possibility and should be avoided at all costs. The take away here should be that these veggies do not need or want water, sunlight or any other fresh products near them.

10. Nuts

Nuts are a wonderful source of protein and natural oils. They can be eaten as a snack, added to salads, blended up in a smoothie or packed into a baggie and taken on an outdoor adventure. The allure of nuts is that they are tasty, convenient and they are healthy. They are the perfect food. At least, they are perfect for people who are not allergic to them. If you are one of these unfortunate people, then rather skip to the next point.

While nuts are a much-desired little food, they are incredibly expensive. Peanuts may be affordable, but almonds, cashew nuts, pecan nuts, walnuts and the rest of them are quite able to break the bank. For this reason, nuts ought to be stored properly if you are to avoid tossing them in the trash prematurely.

Airtight containers and resealable bags are the only safe options. Unopened packages of nuts can be left alone for awhile but as soon as they are opened, they need to be placed into one of these. Regardless of whether the nuts are repackaged or in their original packaging, they cannot be stored at room temperature.

The naturally occurring oils in nuts may be desirable for health reasons but they are also the prime cause of spoiled nuts. Heat, even room temperature heat, makes these oils go rancid. This produces a sharp and bitter taste which is completely unwanted when it comes to nuts. If nuts are stored correctly, they can last for over a year. This simple storage routine will ensure the taste and quality of the nuts and will stop them from landing up in the bin.

11. Eggs

In previous years eggs had been condemned because they were thought to have alarmingly high levels of cholesterol. It is only recently that studies showed that eggs actually have good cholesterol. This means that people can eat up to three eggs a day. This not only provides them with the aforementioned good cholesterol, but it also delivers a large dose of protein. With this newfound knowledge, people have been stocking up on eggs. They have poured through Pinterest recipes and started practicing new egg making techniques all in an attempt to eat more eggs.

 There is a lot of misinformation on the correct storage of eggs. Each household each claim to have their own tried and tested method for preserving their eggs. Who is to know which is healthy and which is harmful? The simple answer is that eggs should be kept at a constant temperature. This obviously excluded leaving them out in the open. Room temperature fluctuates during the day which could hinder the integrity of the egg.

The best place for an egg is in the fridge. Here they can settle in an environment where the temperature does not fluctuate routinely. They can even be boiled first and then refrigerated safely for a few days. Eggs can also be frozen safely. But, this does not mean that they can be put carton and all into a freezer drawer.

There are two freezing options available. The first being to crack and separate eggs whites from the yolk and them place them in separate and sealable containers. This method is best for bakers. The second freezing method is to crack the eggs and beat them before freezing them. This makes for convenient scrambled eggs or omelets in the morning.

12. Meat, fish, and poultry

Every month there is a new fad diet that hits the market. A few years ago, it was the paleo and banting diets. These had people eating large quantities of animal protein as the claim was that a person who ate like our cavemen ancestors was healthier and happier than their modern counterpart. Whether these diets produced the desired result or not is unclear. But, people wound up eating vast amounts of meat.

If these products are purchased organically, then they can form part of a very healthy diet. The other requirement is that they are stored properly. Meat, fish or poultry that has been left to go bad cannot be eaten. There is no grey area here. Rotten meat can make a person extremely sick. Meat that is not cooked properly can make a person extremely sick.

The first step to avoid this kind of food poisoning is to store meat in the correct place. If meat is being stored in the fridge then it must be kept at the bottom and in a resealable container. It cannot be eaten after its use-by date and it must not be stored with already cooked meat or other pre-made food.

Meat can also be safely frozen for extended periods of time. Meat that has been frozen before its use-by date can be left in the freezer for up at six months, and even longer. To avoid freezer burn, these must be packaged properly. Freezer burn affects the integrity and quality of the meat. If left in the freezer for more then 6 months, then try marinating the meat in order to improve the texture.

13. Leftovers

Only an experienced chef or person with a large family does not have to deal with leftovers. For the most part, no matter how much planning is involved, meals do not all get eaten in one sitting. There are generally leftovers. This can be quite a blessing on those evenings where the thought of cooking a whole meal is simply unpalatable. Utilising leftovers is also the key to living consciously and mindfully. Letting these go to waste is irresponsible. But, how does one make the most of these?

Cooked leftovers need to be cooled quickly. Letting it cool at room temperature is fine, but it is better for these dishes to be cooled within 2 hours of cooking. Once cooled, they can be frozen or placed in the fridge.

Leftovers that are placed in the fridge need to be eaten within 2 days. They should not be left in the fridge for longer than this. If this is too short a period, then it is safer to freeze these foods. Frozen leftovers should de be divided into individual portions and placed into sealable containers. These can then be left in the freezer for a few weeks.

When you are ready to eat these already made meals, then it is safe to remove them from the freezer. Frozen food must be thawed fully before eating. They must also be eaten within a day of being removed from the freezer. To achieve this, remove the correct amount of frozen food at a time. The last step that ought to be taken in order to maintain the integrity of the dish, is to never refreeze already thawed food. This promotes the growth of bacteria which cause food poisoning.

14. Food that can safely go in the fridge

As seen with the previous items, there are some products which cannot be stored in the fridge. While the cool environment of the refrigerator may damage certain products, it is quite vital to others. Before the invention of the electronic ice-box salt and vinegar was used to preserve food. This was done because both of these impair the growth of bacteria and it is bacteria which results in food poisoning. Luckily, this is not necessary anymore. While the fridge is a marvel, it does need to be used correctly.

Any product which has a label that includes the terms use-by and keep refrigerated obviously should be put promptly and permanently in the fridge. These include things like ready-made meals and dairy products such as milk and cheese. Opened canned foods should not be refrigerated. These can last months and even years if they are kept sealed. But, once they are opened, they can imbue a metallic taste from the metal of the can if left in the fridge.

It is safer to pour the remaining contents into a sealable container and only then place them in the fridge. These are the guidelines which govern refrigerating food, but they are thoroughly useless is the fridge itself is not in working order.

The temperature of the fridge must always remain below 5C. Your fridge may have a digital display and if this is the case, it should be routinely compared to the internal thermometer to check its validity. A fridge also needs to be cleaned regularly. This will maintain the hygiene of the environment and keep the fridge in working order.

15. Food that can be frozen

When it comes to the freezer, the sky is the limit. Basically, any and every type of food can be placed in it. If certain foods are left in the freezer for extended periods of time, then there may be an issue with quality, but most products should still be safe to eat.

Products which can be placed in the freezer include milk, yogurt, meat, fish, eggs, poultry, rice, bread, and baked goods. All of these do not require any intensive preparation. All that needs to be done is to place them in a sealable an airtight container. This prevents the cold air from coming in contact with the food. Cold freezer air can dry out food which essentially decreases its taste and nutritional value.

Products which have a lot of water in them tend to change consistency when frozen. This includes things like strawberries and tomatoes. Once frozen, these foods can become squishy. While this is undesirable when eating these products alone, they are still perfectly suitable for cooking. It is inadvisable to freeze dairy products such as soft cheese as the cold temperature may impact the protein structure.

Raw meat, poultry, and fish should never, under any circumstances be refrozen. If, however, you have defrosted it and are not ready to eat it then cook it first. Cooked meat can be refrozen but only once it has cooled down thoroughly. This is a marginally safe practice, but it should not be the norm. Refreezing meat, even cooked meat, can increase the chances of food poisoning and it will severely impact the quality and taste of the dish. A freezer must also be thoroughly defrosted and cleaned every few months.