Expert advice, Nutrition
How To Store Food During Quarantine And Summer

Dr. Lakshmi K

Food Scientist

6 min read

 

This summer, combined with quarantine gave way to panic buying. We are buying more than we can consume during this period. Doing so gives us a false sense of food security. Unfortunately, this is causing excess food wastage during this hour of crisis, especially with perishable food. Storing UR food increases its shelf life and is extremely budget-friendly. Come to think of it; it isn’t a bad idea to revamp an unused space in UR home and set up a pantry. Not just for emergencies, pantries work well during any time of the year too. Be it an emergency or a pandemic; you should not be anxious about starvation.

Here is all the information that you needed.

Cereals

The common problem that we face with storing cereals is dust, insects and moisture. Corn, wheat, rice, and oats in an airtight container/ bag is the safest way to keep them healthy. Make sure to mark your bags or container with the expiration dates. They are fresh for five months. After that, if you miss the crispness of the cereals, just spread them on a baking tray and give them 5 minutes in the oven at 350 °F before cooking them.

Legumes & Pulses

Legumes & Pulses

Regularly infested by weevils, legumes/ pulses will be safe in an airtight glass container. Mason Jars are excellent to store them. As an extra precaution, add a bay leaf to the container as it prevents weevils. Make sure that there is no direct sunlight on the jars. If weevils are already breeding, refrigerate the bad for two weeks. Store them after getting rid of the weevils skeletons. Their shelf life will be around a year.

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Flours

Various flours like all-purpose, wheat, ragi, white, bread, cake, and self-rising flour get infested by insects or weevils. After purchasing these flours, chuck them into your fridge, transfer them to a food-grade airtight container after two days. This will keep away the flour from moisture and insects. Flours easily absorb odours, sterilize the container before storing the flour. Better to consume the flour within a year of storage.

Dairy Products

Dairy Products

The ideal temperature to store dairy products is 2°C to 4°C. Every refrigerator comes with a specific place to store dairy. This helps in protecting the diary products to absorb odours of the neighbouring ingredients. Always check the expiry date before buying and using dairy products.

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Herbs and spices

Wash and remove wilted and damaged leaves of the herbs. Cut the roots off and place the herbs in a ziplock bag or perforated bag. They stay fresh when you store them in the coldest part of the fridge (do not freeze). They will stay fresh for a week.

For UR whole spices, seal them in an airtight container and keep them away from direct sunlight. They can be used for around two years. Use the ground spice before six months. Store the ground spices in an airtight container as well. To retain as much flavour and colour of chilli powder, refrigerate them.

Meat, Fish, And Eggs

Meat, Fish, And Eggs

For the fish to be fresh and free from contamination, it should be kept in a bag. Place a bowl of ice in the fridge and store your fish on top of the ice. Eat it as soon as possible! You can freeze fish to keep it fresh for longer durations.
Store eggs in their unique carton. In case you can’t decide if UR eggs are fresh, place them in a cup of water. Fresh eggs usually sink, while old eggs float.
Meat and poultry must be kept in its original packaging if you eat it in the next day or two. If not, enclose it in a ziplock bag, then store it in UR freezer.

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Vegetables

Leafy vegetables like spinach, amaranth and mustard greens are challenging to stay fresh for a long time. Chop off the roots, wash them and pick healthy leaves. Dry them off on a paper towel. Pack them in a ziplock bag with a paper towel. They will stay fresh for 5 days. Make sure not to place them near fruits or raw meat.

Potatoes, Garlic and Onions are safe when placed at room temperature with ventilation. Dividing them into little piles prevents rotting. They will be healthy to eat for about a month.

If you purchase unripe tomatoes, store them after washing and drying them in a place without direct sunlight. They will take around 12 days to ripen. Store them in the fridge after they are ripe. Use them within two days.

Refrigerate a whole cauliflower with its stalk attached to it. Its shelf life is around 5 days.

Carrots, beetroot and radishes stay in a refrigerator for up to a week. Wash them and pack them in a ziplock bag.

In general, gourds are unpredictable as a minute scar can result in decreased shelf life. Wash them and dry them. Leave them over the counter, they stay fresh for 3 days. When you refrigerate them, their shelf life will be around 8 to 10 days.

Brinjal, capsicums and lady’s fingers retain their freshness in the fridge for about 8 days. Wash them and dry them before refrigerating them.

Mushrooms in a paper bag is an excellent way to store them. Place it in the fridge and consume them within a week.

Cut a firm cabbage and wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate it. It will be fresh for about 2 weeks. If you have an excess amount, make kimchi out of the cabbage to have an additional source of probiotics.

Fruits

Fruits

  • At room temperature, mangoes are safe to eat for five days. When refrigerated, they can be consumed up till a week.
  • Berries are quick to go bad. Refrigerate them and enjoy them for a week.
  • Wrap papaya in a clingfilm, and it lasts up to five days at room temperature. Refrigerated papaya is good to eat for up to a week.
  • It’s better to leave a pineapple on the counter as it ripens in about five days.
  • Muskmelon and watermelon can last up to 10 days at room temperature. Refrigerate them once they are cut up.
  • Oranges stay fresh and flavourful up to two weeks when refrigerated.
  • Never refrigerate bananas. Enjoy their natural goodness over the counter for five days before they completely ripen.

Quick glance

Room Temperature – cereals, pulses, roots and tubers, bananas, spices and condiments

Cool places – oils and fats, canned foods

Refrigerator – Fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products, eggs

Freezer – meats, icecream, frozen products.

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