5 Common Ingredients You Should Keep in the Fridge (or Freezer)
If you have ever been disappointed to find that something you recently purchased at the grocery store has started to grow fuzzy with mold around the edges, it could just be that you’re storing those items in the wrong place. In order to keep foods fresh for a longer period of time, it may be to your advantage to store them in your refrigerator or your freezer. Below are some of the most common ingredients you should keep in the fridge (or freezer), to help them retain their freshness for a longer period of time.
Seeds and nuts
You might not think that seeds and nuts need to be stored in your refrigerator, but you can significantly improve the flavor as well as the shelf life of your seeds and nuts by storing them in your refrigerator. Most people are unaware that almonds, pistachios, and other types of seeds and nuts are actually fairly delicate and can quickly begin to spoil when exposed to the heat or light in your kitchen.
In addition, seeds and nuts which have been blended, chopped, or processed in some other way, release many of the delicate oils they contain, and this will cause them to turn bitter much faster than when stored in a whole state. To get the maximum shelf life from your seeds and nuts, transfer them to an airtight container so that oxygen contact is minimized, and place them in your refrigerator for storage. By doing this, you should be able to store them for as long as six months without any kind of degradation of flavor or freshness. They will keep for as long as a year if you store them in your freezer.
Some types of condiments
Some types of condiments which have extremely high levels of sugar, salt, or as acidity do not require refrigeration. Other “wet condiments” such as mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, or maple syrup will stay much fresher and tastier if they are stored in a refrigerator. You have undoubtedly seen bottles of ketchup and mustard sitting on restaurant tables in the past, which are obviously un-chilled and un-refrigerated, but the truth is these will always taste much better and will remain much fresher when stored in a refrigerator.
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Both ketchup and mustard are somewhat stable on your pantry shelf because of their high acidity, but an open bottle of one of these two condiments will begin to turn bad much sooner than you might think. If you store ketchup in a refrigerator, it will last for as long as six months, and mustard will remain fresh for approximately one year if stored in a refrigerator.
Mayonnaise should always be stored in the refrigerator because it contains eggs, and if left un-chilled, mayonnaise will begin to go bad very quickly. Maple syrup may seem remarkably similar to honey, but it will not keep nearly as long as honey will, and it can begin to grow mold almost immediately if it isn’t properly refrigerated. If you store your maple syrup in the refrigerator, it will last for up to a year, and will taste fresh on all your waffles and pancakes for the entire period.
Some types of fruit
Bananas are one example of a fruit that will last much longer if stored in a refrigerator. While an over-ripe, brown-colored banana might be ideal for making banana nut bread or muffins, it is not particularly enjoyable as a snack food. The cool temperatures of your refrigerator will allow your bananas to stay firm for a week or two longer than they would if kept at room temperature. You do not have to worry about the banana turning brown in your refrigerator, because the fruit inside will still be fresh and flavorful.
Avocados are another example of a fruit which can have their shelf life prolonged by storing them in the refrigerator. Interestingly, you should avoid storing your avocados next to your bananas in a refrigerator because bananas release a chemical which causes avocados to ripen more quickly. While you can gain probably an extra two or three days by storing your avocados in the refrigerator, that is about all the extra shelf life you can expect, so you’ll still have to use your avocados fairly quickly.
Citrus fruits will generally last for at least a week after purchase from a grocery store, and this includes lemons, oranges, limes, and grapefruits. However, if you do not plan to use them within a week, you should store all the citrus fruits in your refrigerator so as to delay any spoilage. You can seriously prolong the shelf life of these fruits by storing them in sealable freezer bags, and that will get you about a month of extended shelf life. If you care to pre-cut slices or wedges of the citrus fruits and store them in freezer bags, they will last for three or four months before any kind of deterioration occurs.
The shelf life of herbs can be prolonged by keeping them away from oxygen, sunlight, and moisture, and you can accomplish all this by simply storing them in your refrigerator. However, there are some different procedures necessary depending on the type of herb which you intend to store in your fridge. When you are dealing with parsley, cilantro, basil, or any other soft leafy type of herb, you should trim the ends of the herb, place it in a jar with sufficient cool water to immerse the stems, and cover them with a reusable bag.
Herbs which have a hard, woody composition should be loosely wrapped in a moistened paper towel and stored in a container which is resealable. These types of herbs include such favorites as rosemary, sage, and thyme. All these herbs will last at least three weeks longer than they would if simply stored on a pantry shelf, and all the flavor they impart to foods you are trying to spice up will then be released just as you intended.
Intuition might tell you that storing your bread in a refrigerator will extend its shelf life considerably, so that you can have fresh bread every day for a week or two. However, the truth is that the environment and the temperature normally found in refrigerator could cause the hardening process to accelerate, so that your bread loses its freshness prematurely. You will be much better off to store your bread in the freezer if you’re looking to prolong its shelf life.
A good rule of thumb is that if you do not expect to use the bread within three days of its purchase at the store, you should wrap it well and simply place it in the freezer. That will keep it fresh for up to six months, and it will be just as fresh as the day it was bought. Even better, assuming that your bread has been pre-sliced, you’ll be able to take out as many slices as you actually need and leave the rest in the frozen container in the freezer. Using this approach, you could have fresh bread whenever you want it, while the remainder of any loaf is being conveniently stored in your freezer, awaiting usage.