13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making


13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

See if you're preserving the freshest possible versions of these and other important staples of the healthy diet, such as broccoli, peanut butter, and eggs.

Knowing which foods to store where can help you spend less on groceries and reduce food waste.

Like medicine, food needs to be stored properly. The majority of us assume we know how to store our groceries, but a refresher is probably in order. This is due to the fact that properly storing your food can help prevent food illnesses and save money on food waste by making things last longer, both of which are essential as the price of food continues to soar, as the U. S. USDA predicts that the current trend will continue.

According to Christine Palumbo, RDN, a nutrition consultant from Naperville, Illinois, properly storing your grocery store haul in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer can help you save money, prevent food waste, and keep you and your family safe.

You might also be able to eat healthier thanks to how you store your food. According to Palumbo, "healthy foods, such as whole grains, nuts, and produce, may lose some of their nutritional value if stored improperly or for an extended period of time." Whole grains must be stored more carefully than refined (also known as heavily processed) grains, according to the Oldways Whole Grains Council.

In addition, eating spoiled food can make you ill, as you are aware. Salmonella and E. coli are harmful bacteria that can grow in improperly stored food. Maggie Michalczyk, RDN, the Chicago-based founder of Once Upon a Pumpkin, asserts that E. coli can multiply and result in food poisoning. "Adequate storage conditions prevent the growth of these pathogens, lowering the risk of illness. Salmonella thrives in warmer climates and when food is left out of the refrigerator for extended periods of time, like those experienced during parties and holiday gatherings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, Palumbo advises that you should perform a basic clean-out of your refrigerator before you even visit the grocery store. This way, she says, "you can use up any food that needs to be consumed, toss anything that's obviously gone bad, and do a quick wipe down of your fridge shelves to prepare them for your grocery haul."

When your refrigerator is ready, learn how to store some of the most popular foods you probably stockpile so that your food (and your money) will last longer and you won't have to go to the doctor.


Here are 13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making


13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

1. Eggs

13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

It might be convenient if your refrigerator door has a handy egg rack for you to set your eggs, but it's usually not a good idea to actually keep them there. Eggs and other perishable foods should be stored on interior shelves, which are located in the coldest part of your refrigerator, rather than in the door, as recommended by the USDA. That's because opening and closing your door can cause temperature changes that could hasten the deterioration of your eggs.

Why should eggs be refrigerated at all? "In the United States, eggs are washed at a processing plant, which removes the natural coating that helps keep water in and bacteria like salmonella out," says Palumbo. Eggs aren't typically refrigerated in European nations because, according to European egg producers, refrigeration is unnecessary as long as the egg's natural membrane is preserved.

The USDA notes that a study comparing the two methods of storage discovered that egg washing and refrigeration was more efficient at preserving eggs for a longer period of time. The Louisiana State University Agriculture Center advises keeping your eggs in the refrigerator even if you purchase them directly from a farm or farmers market.


2. Broccoli

13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

There are numerous benefits to eating broccoli, including the fact that it is a wonderful source of a variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and vitamin K, according to the USDA. The cruciferous vegetable prefers it cold, though. The quality of broccoli declines after harvest, but storing it at a lower temperature may halt the process, according to research published in the May 2019 issue of the journal Foods.

According to Palumbo, the best place to keep broccoli is in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, where it will stay cool and have the right humidity and air circulation to delay spoilage. According to the South Dakota Department of Health, you shouldn't keep it in a plastic bag because it traps humidity. You'll want to eat broccoli as soon as you can despite taking these precautions. For maximum nutrients and flavor, broccoli should be consumed as soon as possible after purchase, according to Palumbo. It will keep in the fridge for three to five days, according to Reader's Digest.) "It tends to lose potency and take on a strong taste and smell as it lingers in your crisper drawer," Palumbo says.


3. Bananas

13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

The majority of people leave their bananas on the counter and call it a day while lamenting how quickly they ripen (bananas did come in at No. According to a study conducted at a Swedish university, supermarkets waste the number one food item. In part, ethylene gas is to blame for this. Bananas emit ethylene gas, which can hasten the ripening process, according to Britannica. Reader's Digest reports that hanging bananas slows the process of gas release; Chiquita suggests that separating each banana from the bunch may also delay ripening. Banana hangers help with this to some extent.

Your best bet, however, is to refrigerate these fruits if you want your bananas to last (and avoid having to throw away a few). While it's preferable to keep them on the counter at room temperature, Palumbo explains that once the starches start to transform into sugars and they become soft, it's perfectly acceptable to put them in the refrigerator to delay the ripening process. According to Harvard T., keeping ripe bananas in the fridge can keep them tasting good for an extra week. H. Notes from the Chan School of Public Health. Sadly, placing them in the refrigerator may cause their skin to turn brown or black, but the fruit inside will remain undamaged, according to Palumbo.

Additionally, the location in the refrigerator matters. According to the University of California San Diego Center for Community Health, you shouldn't store bananas and apples next to one another because the ethylene gas both fruits produce can hasten the ripening of both fruits. Additionally, you should keep bananas away from produce that releases ethylene, such as avocados, cantaloupe, kiwis, peaches, pears, peppers, and tomatoes.

Peel the ripe bananas, wrap them in wax paper, and store them in the freezer for a future smoothie if you aren't quite ready to eat them.


4. Potatoes

13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

You're storing potatoes incorrectly if you keep them in the fridge. The U. S. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that storing potatoes in the refrigerator may result in an increase in the chemical acrylamide, which can form during high-temperature cooking and may be dangerous to humans. Consumer Reports advises storing them in a paper bag in a pantry, cupboard, or other similar cool, dry location.

The storage of potatoes and onions separately is not recommended, even though both plants prefer similar conditions. According to Palumbo, the high moisture content of potatoes can make your pantry more humid and lead to leaky onions. Moreover, nobody likes mushy onions!

According to the USDA, potatoes can be kept for several months if they are properly stored, though the "new potato" variety will only keep for a short time. Consumer Reports adds that as long as they remain firm to the touch and don't start sprouting, they are also perfectly safe to eat. Simply cut off the sprouts or "eyes" before cooking and eating them.


5. Maple Syrup

13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

The USDA advises that this natural sweetener be kept in the refrigerator once it has been opened, despite the fact that many people think of it as a pantry staple. Given that imitation maple syrup, also known as pancake syrup, can be stored at room temperature even after opening, this may come as a surprise to people who have heard that honey never spoils.

According to the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association, since real maple syrup is a natural product without preservatives, it can spoil or develop mold if not stored properly. The flavor and texture of real maple syrup can also be harmed by exposure to light and heat, according to Michalczyk, which is another reason why keeping it in the refrigerator is so crucial. According to FDA guidelines, producers are permitted to use terms like "maple," "maple-flavored," or "artificially maple-flavored" on the labels of goods that only contain maple flavor rather than actual maple syrup. Look for "maple syrup" or the phrase "made with 100 percent maple syrup" in the ingredients list to make sure a product contains the real thing. "


6. Nut Butter

13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

Although storing nut butters in the pantry makes them easier to spread, it may not be the best option for their longevity, especially if they are natural nut butters, which are what most dietitians prefer because they don't contain added sugar or salt.

According to Food and Wine, nut butters' high fat content makes them susceptible to rancidity, especially in hot temperatures, just like their base product, nuts. Natural nut butters, which don't contain stabilizers and preservatives, are a good example of this. According to prior studies, the temperature at which natural peanut butter was kept had the biggest impact on its quality. Jars kept at a temperature of about 50 degrees F had comparable quality to commercial PB for eight to twelve weeks. When the peanut butter was kept in a refrigerator between 77- and 95-degrees Fahrenheit, that period of time was cut to just four weeks.

According to FoodSafety . gov, natural peanut butter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four months after it has been opened. According to Michalczyk, refrigeration may also stop the natural nut butters' oils from seperating over time.


7. Onions

13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

There used to be places called "onion cellars" where these vital ingredients could be preserved for a longer period of time. According to the National Onion Association, onions should be kept out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources (like a stovetop), even though the majority of homes today lack one. Depending on whether it's near a window, a stovetop, or another source, that could refer to a countertop. Onions can be kept for up to 180 days in the fall or winter with proper storage and up to 60 days in the spring and summer.

Michigan State University advises removing the dry top to within one to three inches of the bulb, getting rid of any loose dirt, and trimming the roots before storing them in a cool, dry place. Additionally, since onions emit ethylene gas, which hastens the ripening process, you should keep them away from produce that is sensitive to it when storing them, advises Palumbo.


8. Entire Grains

13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

According to the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts, consuming a diet high in whole grains is linked to a lower risk of many chronic health problems. But by stocking their pantry with bags of brown rice, farro, quinoa, and wheat germ, many people aren't doing themselves any favors.

Palumbo advises freezing or storing whole grains unless they are consumed right away. According to the Whole Grains Council, one of the reasons these grains, which are actually edible plant seeds, are so good for us is because they contain fiber, healthy fats, and other nutrients that are stripped away in refined grains like white flour and rice. But heat, light, and moisture can have a negative impact on those fats, just like they can on all fats.

These fats are kept from going rancid by storing whole grains in the freezer or refrigerator. According to Bob's Red Mill, this is more crucial when a whole grain has been turned into flour or has undergone other processing, like oats. All whole grains, including wheat germ, that you use less than once a month should be frozen, according to the brand.


9. Kimchi

13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

People might believe that since kimchi is naturally fermented, storing it at room temperature on the counter is totally acceptable, according to The Takeout. However, this is a practice you should avoid engaging in in terms of food safety. Therefore, put your kimchi in the refrigerator as soon as you buy it (or make it). Even if the kimchi hasn't been opened, Michalczyk advises keeping it in the refrigerator because the cold temperature slows down the fermentation process and preserves the tangy flavor. In order to prevent the odor from transferring to other foods, Michalczyk advises storing kimchi in an airtight container, such as a glass jar or airtight plastic container. Colorado State University advises following the "expiration date" instructions on the label and keeping an eye out for mold growth on the surface, which is (of course!) a sign that the food has gone bad.


10. Butter

13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

There's a trend right now to leave butter out on the counter to get it to room temperature, but getting the most spreadability is probably not worth the risk to your health. According to the Food Network, butter and other fats are susceptible to rancidity at high temperatures. Instead, Michalczyk advises keeping butter in its original packaging or transferring it to an airtight container before putting it in the refrigerator to avoid absorbing flavors from other foods. "Once opened, you can continue storing butter in the refrigerator, and for convenience, you may consider using a butter dish with a lid to keep it covered and protected," advises Michalczyk. A small amount can be kept at room temperature in a covered butter dish for short-term use if you prefer a spreadable consistency, advises Michalczyk. (The USDA advises that butter left out for one or two days is fine. But after that, you should store it in the refrigerator.

Reader's Digest states that butter can stay fresh in the refrigerator for at least a month before going rancid. (You can freeze your butter to extend its shelf life by up to a year.)


11. Coffee Beans

13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

The beans used to make coffee, like other types of beans, contain fats or oils that can turn rancid at high temperatures. For these reasons, coffee connoisseurs have long been counseled to store their beans in the freezer for maximum freshness. Surprise, the National Coffee Association (NCA) says that is not necessary.

While freezing beans can affect the moisture content of beans if they are not sealed in an airtight container, which may be just as harmful, the NCA reports that heat and light can also degrade coffee's flavor. In fact, the beans start to lose freshness as soon as they are roasted.

It is advised to use an airtight container that is dark and cool. Harvard T. H. The Chan School of Public Health advises keeping your coffee in a cool, dark cabinet and, to preserve its flavor, putting it in an opaque, airtight container rather than storing it in its original packaging.


12. Milk

13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

You might want to reconsider your habit of keeping your milk carton inside the door. According to Palumbo, recommendations have been made to store milk on an interior shelf rather than in the door due to temperature swings caused by frequently opening and closing the door. The USDA advises against storing perishable foods, including milk, in doors because the temperature is less stable than it is there and could lead to milk spoilage.

You might want to switch to organic milk if you can't finish a carton before it begins to smell sour. According to Mississippi State University Extension, although it is more expensive, ultra-pasteurized cow's milk has a much longer shelf life than regular cow's milk.


13. Nuts

13 Food Storage Mistakes You Are Making

No matter what kind of nut you choose to eat, it is important to include them in a balanced diet because they can, among other things, lower cholesterol. Although they have a reputation for being a sturdy, on-the-go snack, they are not always shelf-stable for extended periods of time. The explanation is that, according to Palumbo, "nuts contain a lot of unsaturated oil and can go rancid if not eaten within a few months.". Therefore, avoid doing what some people do and keeping all of your nuts in the pantry. "If you buy a big container at a club store, think about keeping a small amount out for eating and freezing the rest," she advises.

According to data from the USDA, walnuts are particularly important because they primarily contain polyunsaturated fatty acids. At room temperature, those fats—the ones that have health advantages—can oxidize quite quickly.

California Walnuts advises keeping walnuts in the refrigerator in their original, unopened packaging or an airtight container if you intend to consume them right away, as an example. Store them in the freezer in airtight containers if you won't be eating them for a month or more.

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