The 6 Enemies of Food Storage
Stocking up on food gets expensive, and every frugal bone in my body shudders at the thought of anything going to waste. I try to store everything in the best possible conditions and watch out for these six enemies. Depending on your storage conditions all, some, or none of these may be a concern.
- Heat – The longest possible shelf life is attained when food is stored somewhere between 40 degrees and 72 degrees. For every 18 degrees above 72, food will lose its’ nutritional value by half, and over time, it will lose much of its’ original flavor, texture, and appearance. If you can keep your food consistently cool, you’re in great shape.
- Humidity – It’s important to keep food as dry as possible. An air-conditioner or a dehumidifer can help as well as making sure the food is packaged with as little moisture as possible. Store food off the floor and away from outside walls where moisture might seep in.
- Oxygen – Over time, oxygen changes the appearance, flavor, and texture of food. When fats oxidize they become rancid. Use oxygen absorbers, rotate food to reduce the chances of oxidation, and pay attention to the other five enemies of food storage. Working to eliminate oxygen will also kill any bacteria, and vacuum packing food can help with this.
- Pests - Many dry foods can be popped in the freezer for at least four days to insure that microscopic insect eggs will never hatch. Keep food in air-tight containers. Make sure there aren’t any food particles on the shelves or floor, and keep all food storage areas very clean. If mice are a problem, well, you know what you’ve gotta do.
- Light – If possible, keep your pantry area dark. Light can and will affect the flavor and appearance of food, but it’s also the easiest enemy to keep at bay. If you have food stored in clear containers, keep them in labeled boxes with lids. It won’t be as attractive as all those pretty jars filled with homemade preserves and canned veggies, but they’ll last longer.
- Kids – So far, I’ve lost entire boxes of granola bars, energy bars, and two or three cases of Capri-Suns have mysteriously been emptied. Perhaps a kid-proof lock on the pantry door can take care of this particular hazard.
Your food storage is an investment. Taking a few extra steps to keep it safe from these six enemies will be worth the effort.
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