Keeping your cocina stocked with fresh foods is a great way to ensure a healthy diet for la familia. But a big shopping trip can become messy if you forget what you bought. Avoid wasting comida and dinero by properly storing all your food items, with tips from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Food Storage Made Easy
A stocked refrigerator can be a blessing, but “it’s a good idea for people to think about air flow and make sure they can see that air will be able to circulate,” says Kasey Christian, a spokesperson with the NCHFP team. Avoid overcrowding by cleaning out the refrigerator regularly. A full freezer, on the other hand, is more energy efficient than a partially filled one. To stay organized, Christian recommends keeping a list of what you put in and when it was packaged. When shopping, note “sell by” and “use by” dates.
Storing Hierbas: Dried herbs and spices should be stored in airtight containers, in a dry space away from heat or light (think: clean cupboard). Herbs stored in the cupboard can be kept for one to two years, according to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.
Fresh herbs require more maintenance to last. Herbs such as basil and cilantro can be stored for up to a week on a table or countertop, in a glass with about one inch of water. Be sure to trim the ends before placing in the glass. Herbs can also be wrapped in a moist paper towel and stored in a re-sealable bag. Different herbs need different levels of moisture: cilantro and parsley need more, while herbs such as rosemary and thyme need less.
Storing Verduras: Most fresh vegetables should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer within an hour of purchasing at the grocery store, with the exception of veggies such as sweet potato, tomatoes and onions. Colorado State University provides the following guidelines for storing commonly consumed vegetables in the refrigerator.
- Corn and mushrooms - Up to two days
Green beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, lettuce and peppers - Up to one week in the refrigerator
Carrots - Up to two weeks in the refrigerator
Storing Fruta: Most fruits can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, with the exception of apples, avocados and bananas. Peaches, nectarines, pears and plums should ripen at room temperature before refrigerating. Check all fruit before refrigerating to make sure there isn’t any mold (or remove any moldy pieces) to prevent spreading.
- Berries such as blueberries, blackberries and strawberries - Up to two days
Green and red grapes, peaches and pears once ripe: Up to five days
Cut melons such as cantaloupe and honeydew - Up to one week
Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit - Up to three weeks
Storing Carnes: Meats are the most important food to refrigerate or freeze immediately after purchasing: They should never be left out for more than 1-2 two hours. When storing meat in the freezer for longer than two weeks, take it out of its original packaging and store in a freezer storage bag.
- Chops (lamb, pork, veal) - Up to four days refrigerated; up to six months in freezer
Ground meat - Up to two days refrigerated; up to four months in freezer
Steak - Up to four days refrigerated; up to one year in freezer
Lunch meats - Up to four days refrigerated; up to two months in freezer
Cooked meats - Up to four days refrigerated; up to three months in freezer
Chicken and turkey - Up to two days refrigerated; up to one year in freezer