A Guide to Food Storage

How to keep your food happy?

Much like people, your food just wants to be in an environment where it can thrive. Also just like people, it can get quite sour, bitter, or rotten if it is somewhere it doesn’t belong. 

Fridge Foods

Wash and dry them as soon as you bring them home. Wrap them loosely in a paper or dish towel and store them in the fridge in a container.

Remove any elastic bands, wash them, and gently dry the herbs with a dish towel or paper towel. Trim the ends, and store them in a glass jar with some water in the fridge (like a bouquet of flowers).

Root veggies
If using within the next few weeks wash them, cut the tops off (use the tops for pesto, salad, compost, freeze them for later, or give them to barnyard animals), and store the roots in a large jar filled with water. They can also last a good amount of time in the vegetable crispers. If you are in need of fridge space store them in your cellar.

These like to be dry and cool. Do not wash until right before you use them. Store in a container or wrapped in a paper towel and put them in your veggie crisper.

Scallions/Green onions
Take off any elastic bands and store in either a jar with water, root side down, or in a damp (not wet) paper or dish towel inside a container.

There is a common misconception that these can be stored at room temp as they do in other countries. This is false, unless you raise chickens and acquire eggs from them. In North America eggs go through a hot water bath that takes off their protective layer making them more permeable to bacteria such as salmonella when stored at room temp. So please find space in your fridge for these. The good news is that they allow for some temperature fluctuation so feel free to store them in the door of the fridge or top shelf.

These also allow for a bit more fluctuation. Fridge door or top shelf is just fine for them.

Whether you’re drinking dairy or a non-shelf stable milk alternative, make sure you store your milks in a temperature stable part of your fridge in tightly sealed jars or bottles.

In case it needed to be said, store your meat in the most temperature stable part of your fridge and freeze raw meat if you cannot use it within the next couple days. If it gets to the point that you feel you need to do a smell check then it’s probably too far gone, just don’t… Trust me when I say salmonella is a bad time.


Countertop Foods 

Away from ethylene sensitive foods (as listed below). If you think they are getting to the point where they should be used but you just aren't ready for guacamole, plop them in the fridge to prolong their lives.

Do not store in the fridge as this gives them that unpleasant grainy texture and reduces their flavour. Wash and dry them. Then store at room temperature on your counter away from ethylene sensitive foods (as listed below).

Surprisingly not to be stored below 10℃. Wash and dry them, then store them at room temperature on your counter or, if you keep your kitchen really hot, store them in the pantry/cupboard.

Pantry Foods 

Store in a cool, dark place with plenty of air flow. Best kept in a woven basket or hung up by their stalks (if still attached), string, netting, or stockings (a good way to use those old fishnets). If they start to sprout then their environment is too moist.

Pick a slightly cooler part of your pantry or cupboard for these guys. They can also survive on your counter for a while. Since they like dark, dry environments it’s best not to store them in the cellar. *Zucchini is the exception (see fridge).

Canned goods/Dry foods/Prepared items
These foods enjoy the calm, dark, dry environment of the pantry. Same rules as the fridge apply. Label everything, store whatever you can in glass containers, and keep it organized. 

Freezer Food 

It’s not over ‘til it’s over- Whether it’s fruit, veggies, meat, or leftovers, the freezer can almost always save the day. Wash any fruit and/or veggies and put them in the freezer in bags or reusable containers. Make sure you steam or cook the veggies and pit and chop the fruit so they are ready to use as soon as they thaw.

More tips & info 

Food Storage Tips:

1. Respect personal space- Produce also follows social distancing rules. Give everything room to breath. A stacked fruit bowl might look pretty on your counter but unless you are planning to eat them in the near future it might be best to have a couple bowls or use a strainer, basket, or other kind of mesh vessel that allows for more air flow.

2. Not all produce gets along- Store ethylene producing foods away from ethylene sensitive foods (for more information on ethylene scroll down).

3. Not all parts of the fridge are created equal- finicky items like herbs, greens, and milks should be stored in more temperature stable parts of your fridge. The bottom two shelves and vegetable crisper are good options for most types of fridges. The door of the fridge and top shelf are usually the least temperature stable.

4. Organize your fridge- Easier said than done right? This can be especially difficult if you are sharing a fridge with others. So how do you keep from forgetting about the beets at the back of the fridge until they look like shrunken heads? As excessive as it sounds, label your food with your name (if you have roommates), the date, and an item description if you can’t see through the container. This also keeps your roommates from nicking your grub. Setting fridge and cupboard boundaries can also be helpful.

Waste Reduction Tips:

1. Keep track of what you’ve got- Make sure you take a good look at what you already have in your fridge, shelves, and countertop before going to the store. Keeping an organized fridge and properly spacing things out can make this easier.

2. Use up what you have first- If you have something that needs to be used shortly, this is usually a good indicator you don’t need to go to the grocery store and buy more food. Get creative and make a ‘clean out the fridge’ stir fry or soup.

3. Invest in some quality containers- Glass containers, silicon bags, and beeswax wraps will go a long way when it comes to food storage and reducing the amount of plastic you use. They also last a lot longer so you won’t have to worry about buying plastic wrap or bags every few weeks.

4. Start Composting- It’s not as complicated as you’d think. Find yourself a well sealed bucket for your kitchen and when it gets full find a compost program. Most towns and cities have one. Check with the local health food stores, community gardens, and farmers. You can also ask friends if they have a compost they would like you to add to. Even better, start one yourself.

5. Let's get our priorities straight- If you are low on fridge space but have more beer/wine/other carbonated beverages than you can drink in the next 12 hours then maybe take them out and put the wilting carrots that are on your counter in their place… Seriously.

What is Ethylene?

- Ethylene is a gaseous plant hormone that is part of that plant's natural ripening process. There are fruits and veggies that produce lots of ethylene and those who are sensitive to it.

- To reduce the speed at which some of your food ripens these to categories of produce should be stored separately from each other. For example keeping your brussel sprouts away from your green onions.

- Alternatively if you have under ripe produce that you would like to eat in the near future you can purposely store these foods with high ethylene producers. Such as putting your green bananas in a bowl or paper bag with some apples.

Ethylene Producing:
Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas (ripe), blueberries, cantaloupe, cranberries, figs, green onions, guavas, grapes, honeydew, kiwifruit, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, potatoes, prunes, quince, tomatoes.

Ethylene Sensitive:
Asparagus, bananas (unripe), blackberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, garlic, green beans, kale, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, okra, onions, parsley, peas, peppers, raspberries, spinach, squash, strawberries, sweet potatoes, watercress, watermelon.