How to store your food properly

Tips for storing your food in the fridge and cupboard.

Food processing and refrigeration has changed over the decades so here are some tips to help you store your groceries correctly.

Bread

Store your bread in the cupboard. Putting it in the fridge can dry it out and makes it go stale faster. Bread can also be stored in a freezer for up to three months and defrosted to almost-original condition.

Fresh herbs

Storing herbs in the fridge can make the leaves slimy and cause the herbs to deteriorate quickly. Experts advise storing herbs in the cupboard in a sealed container, lightly wrapped in a damp cloth, which retains the right amount of moisture to stop them going off.

Avocados and bananas

These two fruits grow in hot climates, so fridges aren’t always good for them. If they’re kept in the fridge, the ripening enzymes become inactive, so other enzymes become dominant and cause cell damage and blackened skin. Store your bananas, avocados and citrus fruit in a cool (not cold) cupboard, where they can ripen at a normal pace.

Tomato sauce

Traditionally, tomato sauce has been stored in the cupboard, but that’s because until about a decade ago it contained much more salt, which is a natural preservative. Manufacturers have reduced the salt content in line with health trends, so the sauce starts to decay in temperatures above 16 degrees Celsius. The best place to store your tomato sauce now is in the fridge.

Chocolate

Refrigerating chocolate can lead to ‘sugar bloom’, which occurs when it’s chilled then exposed to warmer air. The chill causes condensation on the surface, dissolving some of the sugar, which recrystallises as a grainy, white coating. Chocolate also absorbs odours, so there’s a risk it will end up smelling and tasting like last night’s leftovers. Store your chocolate in a cupboard, even on hot days. Chocolate with creamy fillings should be stored in the fridge, but not for long, which is a good excuse to eat it.

Butter

Unlike milk and cream, butter won’t go bad if you keep it out of the fridge for a couple of days. The cream used to make butter is pasteurised, which repels bacteria and lengthens its shelf life. It’s also mostly fat (at least 80%) and high fat combined with a low water content makes it less friendly to bacterial growth.

Eggs

The biggest risk with eggs is salmonella. It can live in fresh eggs, even with clean, uncracked shells. The risk is increased by changes in temperature (which can also affect the quality and taste). Most food authorities recommend storing eggs in the fridge.