23 Apr Keep or Toss?
Solve one problem. Create another. Let’s say I make a grocery list, eat a full meal and then shop at break-neck speed, never straying from the items on my list. When I get home with my planned purchases — and only my planned purchases — how do I ensure they don’t go to waste before I need them? Take these lovely apples for instance. Do I shove them in a bag and drop them into the crisper? Or do I leave them in a bowl on the table and see how long it takes for the cats to bat them into bruised balls?
While the proper storage of a hardy apple is a passing bother when unpacking groceries, perishable meat is a constant topic of conversation in our house. Several times a week Andrew asks me if the leftover chicken is still good. My answer? “I ate some a few hours ago and am fine.” The We’ll-Die-Together approach isn’t very reassuring, but without a reliable resource, potentially sacrificing my body for the cause is my only option.
Then there are the times when I defrost chicken and don’t use it as soon as planned. Raised on the mantra, “Never refreeze meat without cooking it first,” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stayed up late roasting poultry so it wouldn’t go to waste. Is this really necessary?
And don’t even get me started on the vat of steaming chili I have 10 minutes to deal with. Knowing I’ll be gone for the day, should I leave it on the counter to cool entirely and refrigerate upon my return, or do I shove the still-warm pot in the fridge before racing out the door?
Thanks to my sister Robin, the answers to these and pretty much all my shelf-life questions are just a few clicks away. She told me about an easy-to-navigate and very informative site, Still Tasty. Not only does it provide storing, freezing and defrosting advice, it gives “Keep It or Toss It” guidance on almost every food imaginable — from produce to proteins, dairy to drinks.
The guidelines posted on Still Tasty are based mostly on US government recommendations, so they err on the side of caution. And yet, it contains a few “not to worry” surprises. For example:
- How you store apples depends on how ripe they are. Are the apples ready to eat? Pop them in a bag and refrigerate. Too firm or tart? Leave them at room temperature to ripen and then go the refrigerator route.
- You can, in fact, refreeze meat without cooking it first, but it depends on how you defrosted it.
- Refrigerating hot food won’t break your appliance or damage other items in the fridge. However, you should put it into shallow containers so it will cool quickly.
Who knew? I didn’t. I’m bookmarking this site and adding it to my link list for future reference. In the meantime, any storage tips or dilemmas you care to share?