Tips For Retaining Food Freshness

Tips on retainig food freshness of common items, from produce to dairy products.

How many times have you had that beautiful head of lettuce turn brown before you even had a chance to enjoy it?

Or that soda lose all of its fizz after only the third glass? Well then keep reading. These tips are for you.

Vegtetables: Nearly all fresh vegetables need a refrigerator. They need cold temperatures and lots of moisture. Vegetable crisper drawers in the fridge work great, or you can use plastic bags. Put unwashed vegetables in a sealed bag and its own moisture will create a damp environment.

Potatoes should not be kept in a refrigerator but rather in a cellar or another cool, dry place. The same holds true for tomatoes.

Celery stalks can be set in a glass of water in the refrigerator to retain its crispness, as can radishes, but much of the vitamin content will be lost.

Lettuce should be stored in sealed plastic in the refrigerator. Do not cut or wash it until you intend to serve it.

Fruit: Fruit is actually quite simple. If it is ripe, store it in the fridge. If it is not, store it loosely in a bowl or basket that will allow air to circulate around it, which will keep it from holding bacteria while it ripens.

Meat: Any meat should be kept in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Be sure a little air can circulate around the meat, however it is packaged. This will help prevent bacteria from forming in too much moisture.

After a meal, cooked meat should be immediately refrigerated.

Cold cuts should remain in a very tight wrap in the refrigerator for no more than three days.

Poultry should be taken out of store packaging, rinsed in cold water, dried with paper towels and loosely rewrapped. Keep giblets and innards separate. Fresh whole poultry should not be refrigerated for more than 48 hours. Cut up, no longer than 24 hours.

Pasta & Rice: If you will use your pasta within a month, it will be fine in its original packaging. If not, keep it in a tightly closed container. The same holds true for rice. Tip: if you cook up too much rice you can always throw it in a freezer bag and keep it for up to 6 months.

Bread: Bread will last twice as long (1-2 weeks) if tightly sealed and kept in the refrigerator. It will soften up if you let it sit at room temperature before serving.

Coffee and Tea: Once opened, ground coffee needs to be in an airtight container and must always stay in the refrigerator or freezer to retain freshness and flavor. Tea should also be kept in an airtight container, but in a cool, dry and dark place.

Juice: Once open, juice must be kept refrigerated and covered.

Soda: Soft drinks can retain carbonation if they are sealed and resealed as tightly as possible. Unfortunately, every time you open the container it will lose some more carbonation.

Dairy: Dairy products must always be kept in refrigerator and tightly covered or wrapped.

This is by no means an extensive list, but these tips should add a little more shelf life to stretch your food... and your dollar.

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