How To Store Leftovers
That macaroni and cheese or that dubious meatball or the spicy curry or just a slice of pizza makes you go mad thinking how to keep it safe till the next meal so that you do not have to waste any of the leftover foods. With people getting more mature about wasting food, avoiding consumerist attitude and global warming, eating up that last morsel of spaghetti has become more of a necessity than just a style statement.
However tired you feel at the end of a fabulous party, you feel it your duty to keep the leftovers for the next day’s lunch or dinner. But we also know that you are worried about the food smells in your overburdened refrigerator as well as contamination of the leftover food through bacteria, etc.
We bring you various tips and techniques to address your fears and also help you save the environment by not letting any food go waste:
Keep the original container: Whenever possible, keep the original container or wrapping for food items because it lessens the danger of contamination by bacteria. In case of dairy products like milk, cheese and cream, keep them in the original containers while in case of meat products, store them in the original wrapping. However, in case of leftovers, do not pour them in the original container or wrapping, just keep them in the container they are in now and be careful to seal the container tightly. In case the bowl or tub is dripping, keep a plate beneath it. You can even use a zipper bag to prevent a mess on the fridge shelf. While purchasing juice, go for glass bottles instead of cartons as cartons are prone to harbor bacteria.
Keep fruits separate from vegetables: Never mix fruits and vegetables together to make them last longer. Fruits and vegetables exude different gases, which can cause other foods to decay. Since it is not possible to know the effect of one fruit on another or of one vegetable on another, it is better to keep these separate. So, the next time you store some leftovers, keep your peaches separated from apples, onions away from eggplants and cabbages separate from carrots. However, even while storing separately, fruits and vegetables, make use of perforated bags that let the air pass easily. In addition, there are some fruits and vegetables, which last better if stored outside the refrigerator, in a dark, cool place.
Keep leftovers in fridge within 2 hours of cooking: The bacteria may germinate in the cooked food when kept on room temperature for long. Therefore, it is advised that once you cook the food and take it to the table, it is better to not leave it there for long. In fact, you can do well by dividing the cooked dish into smaller portions and keep some of those portions in the fridge beforehand and serve the rest. Don’t worry, in case you need to take out some more portions, you can always do that in a jiffy with the help from the microwave. Shifting the cooked food into the refrigerator within 2 hours of cooking it helps leftovers last longer.
Keep in mind the shelf life of the leftovers: Different food items have different shelf life. While food that is generally rich in oil and spices tends to last longer as compared to bland food. Similarly, food that comes with preservatives keeps for more days than the food cooked at home. There is Internet, which can help you learn more in this regard. So, if you are using items like readymade salsa or frozen pies, you might want to know their declared shelf life before planning to store them.
Keep your fridge or pantry clean: Just like a healthy mind lives in a healthy body, good food survives only in ideal conditions. And for ideal conditions, you need to keep your refrigerator, drawers, shelves and pantry clean and free of insects, which breed bacteria. If your fridge is clean, it would circulate fresh air and, thus, prevent contamination on its own.
Now that you know how to keep your fridge clean, we bring you some more equipment that might come in handy while storing leftovers from the last night’s party:
Wash your hands with antibacterial soap before handling any leftovers. Even if the leftover is a little warm, put it inside the fridge instead of keeping it to cool on the kitchen counter. Use all the leftovers within 2-5 days, not longer.
(Photo Courtesy: zedomax.com, www.medimanage.com, earthobservatory.nasa.gov)