Fridge, Freezer or Pantry? How to Store Foods for Freshness
Verdict: Fridge or Pantry
Where to store butter is a hot topic that has been debated for years, but the truth is, both answers are correct. Butter is, afterall, made from fresh cream so it is easy to undertand why one might think it needs to be refridegrated to avoid spoilage, but there is a distinction. The primary component of butter is fat which, unlike cream or milk, makes it less susceptible to bacterial growth. For long-term storage it is best to keep butter in the refridgerator, however for short-term use butter can be left on the counter or cupboard for spreadable bliss.
Nuts & Seeds
Verdict: Pantry, Fridge or Freezer
Nuts and seeds are often victims of careless storage and in turn spoilage. The issue with nuts and seeds is that it can be difficult to know if they are rancid or not, so it often goes undetected. Nuts and seeds are a source of healthy unsaturated fats, however these unsaturated fats are delicate, and when exposed to heat, light, and oxygen, can go rancid easily. Whole, raw nuts will stay freshest the longest, so when buying in bulk, nuts and seeds should be stored in the freezer to prevent spoilage. If you plan to use them in the immediate future, store them in an airtight contain in a dark and cool space.
Verdict: Pantry and Freezer
A lot has changed with flours in the past decade; we now have everything from plain all-purpose flour, to whole grains flours and nut flours available to us. All-purpose, or refined, flours are made by removing the brand and the germ from the grain and can therefore be store in a cold and dark place in the pantry for 1-2 years before going rancid. On the contrary, whole grain flours contain the germ and the seed and once exposed to air can oxidize, so therefore should be stored in the freezer lasting several month. Nut based flours are the most susceptible to rancidity with their high level of fat and should therefore always be stored in the fridge or freezer, lasting only a few months.
Whole grains refer to anything that is still dry and intact; rolled oats, rice, quinoa, etc… Heat, air and moisture are the enemies of whole grains, so they should all be stored in an airtight container in a dark and cool place. How long your grains stay fresh at home can depend largely on how much of their shelf life has already been used up at the warehouse and the store before you bring them home, however, on average they will last between 3-6 months.
Beans & Lentils
Dry beans, peas and lentils can be stored for a relatively long period of time. Once opened, it is best to transfer the beans or lentils to an airtight container or package and store them in a dry and cool place. Over time their colours may fade or deteriorate so it is best to use dried beans and lentils within one year.
Commercial and processed nut butters are filled with added sugars, oils and preservatives, so they can easily last in the pantry without going rancid. However, natural nut butters need to be stored in the fridge to avoid spoilage and rancidity. Much like whole nuts, nut butters are a natural source of unsaturated fats which is prone to spoilage when not properly stored. Natural nut butters, such as almond, cashew or peanut, can be stored in the fridge for up to three month without concern.
Eggs are not only best store in the fridge, but are in fact best stored in their original carton with the large ends up. The original carton helps to prevent the eggs from absorbing strong odours and flavours of other foods in your fridge, and leaving the large end up helps to keep the yolk centered. Ideally, keep your eggs in the main body of the refrigerator to ensure that they keep a consistent and cool temperature.
While cheese is inherently modly, it still does require some proper attention and care to be best stored for freshness. In order to preserve freshness and flavour, cheese is best tightly wrapped with a little TLC. Soft ripened cheese should be given a little room to breath, while blue cheese should be tightly wrapped, and semi-soft or hard cheese should also be tightly wrapped. Cheese can be wrapped in plastic wrap, however for extra freshness cheese it is best wrapped in specific cheese paper to help preserve flavour.
Cooking oils such as olive oil, avocado oil or sesame oil should be stored in the pantry. The two enemies of cooking oils are light and heat, so they should always be avoided. It is best to buy oils in dark bottles to limit the exposure to light both in the grocery store and in your pantry. Aim to keep your cooking oils in a dark and cool space, and as far away from the oven or any heat source as possible.
Verdict: Fridge or Freezer
Meat, poultry and seasood should all be sotre in the fridge or freezer. When storing in the freezer, ensure the meat is tightly sealed, like truLOCAL’s vacuum sealing, to preserve freshness and prevent freezer burn. Fresh meats can last in the fridge for 2-3 days, while frozen meats can often last in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Fruits & Vegetables
Verdict: Pantry, Fridge or Freezer
Everyone knows its important to eat your fruits and veggies, but when you are making this important investment in your health, it’s also important to make sure you can get the most out of them. Although storage for fruits and vegetables will vary a little from one type to another, there are some common things to consider. Vegetable are best stored in the fridge with some space in between them to keep them from drying out. Leafy greens can be rinsed and washed before storing, while soft herbs are best washed right before use. Stone-fruits, avocados, apples, pears, bananas and melons can be left to ripen on the countertop, while other fruits will last longer in the fridge. In both cases, fruits and vegetables can also be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months to help preserve them and help ensure you are eating bountiful seasonal produce all year round.
Stephanie Kay Nutrition