If your kitchen's taken a battering over the festive season, now's the time to turn it around. We all know fresh is better when it comes to food and, while no one is going to judge the occasional ready meal or takeaway, some simple kitchen organisation could be all you need to revolutionise how your household approaches food.
It's a common misconception that everything fresh must go in the fridge. In fact, some foods will keep for longer and taste better when left at room temperature.
Anything that says 'keep refrigerated' on the label needs to have priority for fridge space. The most common foods are dairy, meat and fish. Any raw foods that can cause food poisoning should be kept in separate containers and ideally on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
According to research by the University of California, not all fruit and vegetables belong in the fridge. Along with potatoes, the University recommends avocado, cucumber and peppers are left in a cool, dry place rather than the fridge. But grapes, carrots and mushrooms should be stored in the fridge.
Bread — when kept in the fridge it dries out very quickly. If you know you're not going to get through the whole loaf in a few days, keep it in the freezer and just defrost slices as and when you need them.
Honey — while most jams and spreads should be kept refrigerated once opened, honey just needs to be airtight. It can theoretically stay fine for years but it will start to crystallise if it gets too cold.
Onions — when kept in the fridge onions will turn soft and mouldy a lot quicker than if they're kept in a cool, dry place.
Eggs — there seems to be a lot of debate as to whether they belong in the fridge or not. While most sources agree the door of the fridge is the worst place to store them (despite most fridges having egg trays in the door), it's generally agreed eggs should just be stored at a constant temperature below 20°C.
Technically anything can go in the freezer but there are some foods that freeze better than others. Anything with a higher water content won't have the same taste and texture once it's defrosted, but things like frozen lettuce could still be used for cooking.
You should never freeze any meat or fish that's already been defrosted. If you're buying meat or fish from the supermarket, always read the packaging to make sure it hasn't already been frozen and defrosted.
You can freeze meat after it's been defrosted so long as it's been cooked before it's frozen again. This is because any bacteria that were in the fresh meat would have been killed off as it was cooked.
As with the fridge, eggs are another tricky one for the freezer. You can put egg yolks and whites in the freezer (together or separately) but freezing them in their shell isn't advisable as it cracks when it freezes.
While the freezer will help you keep food for longer, it won't keep it edible indefinitely. Things like butter and cheese can be frozen for around three months but milk shouldn't be kept frozen for more than one month.
If you have a power cut, never open your freezer door as most modern freezers are designed to keep the food inside frozen for 24hours so long as the seal isn't broken. If your freezer food is destroyed by lack of power, check your home insurance policy as it's often covered.
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