Cupboard Food Storage Know How
Last year at this time I wrote several columns on cupboard organization, seems this time of the year is when many of us make time or get in the mood to clean cupboards, organize them and then have a plan to keep them organized. I learned from the phone calls and emails that many of us get busy with life and don’t make the time to keep the stuff in our cupboards organized like we want it. I have gotten some calls this winter about the shelf life of canned and dry goods so this has generated the topic of this column.
Most of you reading this column don’t have bare cupboards like Mother Hubbard. The kitchen, storage, food safety and foods and nutrition are all areas that many of you want to increase your, “know how”. We all want food to be safe, look good and of course taste good. As consumers we want food to retain the nutrients it had when we purchased it. It is more important that we know that the food is safe to eat! If you know how to store food properly and how long it will keep, you will waste fewer food dollars.
A general overview is to store foods in cool cabinets. Put dishes or pot and pans in the cabinets on the sides of the range, near the dishwasher or by the refrigerator exhaust. These are places that the temperature is too warm for food. Produce that you store room temperature like potatoes, and onions should be stored in coolest parts of your cupboards.
So let’s start with canned goods and can do’s and don’ts. Canned foods do have a long shelf life, but don’t neglect them for several years and then decide to use them. Many times canned goods are safe to eat after their best if used by date, but their color, flavor, texture and or nutritive value may have deteriorated.
Plan to store canned foods in a dry place moderately cool, but not freezing temperatures. Have a plan for the canned goods, rotate them oldest to the front and newest to the back. It is best if you use canned goods up within a year but don’t be wasteful if the date is past, the food is still safe and there are many ways you can use. The shelf life of canned goods will be shorter when canned goods are stored about 70 degrees. A slight breakdown of texture may result from freezing some canned foods, but otherwise a single freezing and thawing does not affect them adversely unless the seal is broken.
Here are some things to keep in mind for canned food safety. It is a very good rule to get in the habit of always wiping off the top of any can with hot soap and water before you open it. If the cans are bulging they are spoiled so get rid of them. When it comes to dented cans don’t buy cans with dents on the side seam of the can or on the rim seams at the top or bottom of the can. Check carefully for leakage, especially around the seam. Remember any can that is leaky needs to be disposed of. A can that has rust on it and if you can wipe it off it is fine to use, but if there is a lot of rust then you need to check for leakage as the rust may have penetrated the can
So what is important to remember is that you have a plan for the food in your cupboard and if you have cans past the best of used by date you use them up first. Also open these cans, look at the food, the majority of the time the food can be used in soups, casseroles and if it is fruit there are unlimited possibilities.
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