Choosing the right place to store your food is key to preserving its shelf life and the quality of its nutrients.
Advisor Elizabeth Ocampo Bustamante, food Engineer
Each food group has its own place in the fridge, not just because of its composition and nutritional properties, but because of how long it can last before it needs to be eaten. It is also important to maintain good food storage hygiene and clean every time a liquid is spilled; this helps prevent bacteria from spreading, and food from becoming contaminated or spoiling. One tip is to keep track of expiration dates in order to eat foods that are about to expire first. Categorized by food group, the following are a few recommendations:
- Place those foods with the longest shelf lives – such as a sauces, jams and salad dressings – inside your refrigerator door; their preservatives prevent them from being compromised by the opening and closing of the fridge door.
- Storing bread in the refrigerator can increase its shelf life.
- Eggs can be stored in the fridge. When they are stored outside the fridge, they tend to lose their freshness and nutritional properties.
- Cooked rice should always be refrigerated.
- Avoid storing foods in aluminum containers. This material releases chemical substances that make food spoil more easily.
- Mushrooms are highly perishable and despite the fact that they are purchased in a protective packaging, it is important to protect them from the light of the refrigerator by wrapping the recipient they are in with a paper towel.
- Proteins should be frozen if they are not going to be eaten immediately.
They can last in the freezer for up to a month and a half, as the cold chain prevents microbial growth.
- If they will be consumed in under 48 hours, they can be stored in the refrigerator.
Fish and seafood can be refrigerated for no longer than 24 hours due to how fast they decompose.
- How to store proteins
- Keep proteins separate from each other (chicken, beef, pork, fish and seafood) and store them in airtight containers to avoid contamination and prevent their liquids from mixing. In order to make their thawing process easier, keep them frozen in portions.
- Label each recipient with the purchase date of the protein in order to consume it accordingly and to prevent it from losing its properties.
Dairy products should be stored at the top part of the refrigerator closest to the source of cold, as humidity causes them to spoil. Milks and dairy products with a high fat content can be frozen.
Processed meats should generally be placed in a top compartment in the fridge, where it is coldest. Store them separately to prevent them from becoming contaminated.
Fruits and vegetables
- If you are going to store fruits and vegetables in the freezer, do so for no longer than one month, as they may undergo a loss of vitamin C, color, flavor and texture in this part of the fridge.
- If you are going to eat them soon, store them towards the back of the refrigerator where it is not too cold in order to prevent them from oxidizing and changing color.
- Make sure fruits and vegetables are well washed and disinfected when you store them. Only water is necessary to do so.
- Leafy vegetables should be wrapped in paper towels, stored inside a plastic bag and placed in the lower part of the fridge. Put the vegetables and fruits that perish most quickly towards the front of the fridge.