How to Store Food

Storing food and keeping it edible is an age-old concern for humans. Periods of plenty and scarcity go with the seasons and humans have searched for centuries for ways to safely store their food and keep it safe until they need it. We all know just how much food goes to waste, these days – upwards of thirty per cent of everything we buy ends up thrown away or on the compost heap. Just think – how much are you wasting each year? Storage means organization, rotation and inventory keeping and not to mention a little effort – but it is worth it.

How to Store Food How to Store Food

Ways to Prolong the Life of Food

Being able to stock up on food when it is cheap is great, but the problem is, do you really want to be eating beetroot with every meal for the next month? Well, of course, it does not have to be like that as there are various ways of prolonging the shelf life of food: you can freeze, dry, ‘can’, preserve or vacuum-seal vegetables, meats, herbs and grains. Preserving can be complicated and you need special equipment, but it might be worth your while in the long run as we will see – for centuries, humans have been drying their food to preserve it. You can dehydrate, smoke, sun-dry, air-dry or bake and get the same effect.

The Ancient Art of Freezing

The freezing process stops the chemical and biological processes that slowly break down food. These days, most of us have a freezer, so freezing has got to be one of the easiest ways of preserving the freshness of food. Nearly every type of food is capable of being frozen, but some work better than others. Get it right and sweetcorn or peas can taste as good as the day they were picked. Do not try it with lettuce or raw potatoes, there is just too much water in them. Some foods are preserved better by freezing if you blanch or even cook them first. At the very least, you should always clean fruit and vegetables before freezing.

Freezing Vegetables

Some vegetables will need a certain amount of preparation before freezing. Blanching consists of immersing the vegetables in boiling water for a short period of time. You can use plastic boxes instead of freezer bags, but always allow space in the box because the vegetables will expand when they are frozen. Never forget to label and date your frozen packages, making sure that you use a waterproof pen. Here are some tips on how to prepare certain vegetables before freezing them:

Green beans: Cut off the ends and cut the beans in half, then blanch for 3 minutes.

Beetroot: Fully cook it (for 30-45 minutes).

Broccoli: Trim and rinse, cut small and blanch for 3 minutes.

Carrots: Peel and cut, then blanch for 2-5 minutes.

Corn on the cob: Cook for 7-11 minutes.

Mushrooms: Trim, slice and saute. Let them cool before freezing.

Onions: Peel and chop, then freeze.

Peas: Shell and freeze on a tray, then put into bags.

Tomatoes: Scald in water, peel off skins, then heat through and freeze once cool.


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