Time to Toss it? And Proper Food Storage Advice

March 09, 2017

Help your shoppers reduce food waste and keep their groceries fresh. Here are eight different grocery items that can be significantly affected by improper storage.

Your shoppers definitely have a shopping and storing routine for their groceries, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing it to extend shelf life. Help your shoppers with these food storage tips that can extend shelf life, and help save money! Below is a list of seven different grocery items that can be significantly affected by improper storage.

Breakfast Cereals and Snack Foods: To get the most taste (and nutrients) for your buck and actually finish snacks with out them going stale, store opened snacks and cereals in zip lock bags. Never store cereals in the refrigerator, as moisture and odors from other food are easily absorbed. It's also important to wrap cereals and snacks tightly to avoid insect infestation, especially over the summer and in warm damp environments.

Coffee:  It is important not to refrigerate or freeze the coffee you consume on a regular basis. Contact with moisture trapped in the refrigerator or freezer will cause the coffee, especially ground beans, to deteriorate. Instead, store coffee in an air-tight glass or ceramic container and keep it in a convenient, dark and cool location. A cabinet near the oven or stove is too warm. Coffee begins to lose its freshness almost immediately after roasting, so it’s better to purchase in smaller quantities. A one to two week supply is a good amount. And because exposure to air is your coffee's worst enemy, it’s a good idea to divide your coffee supply into several smaller portions, keeping the larger, unused portion in an air-tight container.

Cooking Oils: Most oils can be stored in a cool, dry, dark place, away from the oven and stove. Unopened oil lasts about 6 months, once opened use oils within 3 months. Refined oils high in monounsaturated fats like, macadamia nut, sesame and grapeseed oil, can keep their flavor and consistency for a year if kept in the refrigerator. Those high in polyunsaturated fats like, sunflower and hemp oil, should last about six months in the refrigerator. Extra virgin and virgin oils can keep their freshness for about a year and do not need refrigeration.

Garlic and Onions: Store fresh garlic and onions in an uncovered, or loosely covered container. Keep in a cool dark place away from heat and bright light. Onions can be placed in a wire hanging basket or a perforated bowl so that air can circulate. Storing garlic and onions this way will help minimize their respiration rate and they will keep fresher longer. Do not refrigerate fresh garlic, the moisture in the refrigerator will cause it to spoil, soften, and sprout. If your garlic has sprouted or contains overripe cloves, remove both as they will cause increased respiration and will produce a bitter taste.

Nuts and Seeds: Due to their high oil content, nuts are prone to spoilage, especially if stored improperly. Whether in the shell or shelled, store nuts in opaque, airtight containers in a cool, dry place. The opacity protects from light, and the tight seal reduces the absorption of moisture and odors. Proper storage not only maintains freshness but also retains the nutritional value of the nuts. If you have purchased nuts in bulk and you need to store the excess, nuts can be stored in the fridge or freezer to help prevent them from going rancid. Stale nuts will look shriveled and have an off taste. Most varieties of nuts will keep for about four months in the refrigerator and up to one year in the freezer. Properly stored shelled nuts will last only a few weeks when kept at room temperature, while nuts still in the shell should last about four months. Nuts in sealed jars or cans will last about three months… and then it’s time to crack them open.

Spices and Herbs: To preserve freshness and nutrients store both ground and whole spices in tightly sealed, glass containers, in a cool, dark and dry place. Not above your stove, or next to your oven! Ground spices and herbs will keep for about 6 months. Whole spices and herbs will stay fresh for about one year if stored the same way. You can extend the shelf life and flavor of spices and herbs by storing them in the refrigerator.

Wine: Most re-corked, leftover bottles of red or white wine can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days without compromising its flavor (the exception is very aged reds or those with high tannins). Just take the red wine out of the refrigerator to let it come to room temperature before drinking. A tightly corked leftover bottle of Champagne/sparkling wine can also be kept fresh in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days – but be sure to not only recork it securely, but also wrap a double thick plastic wrap over the cork and secure with a rubber band to keep it from accidentally popping.