My last article was about the best way to store fruits and vegetables so that they last as long as possible. But what about bread, butter, eggs, spices and all other foods? Where should they be stored in order to stay fresh as long as possible? In general, it can be said that light, heat, bacteria and air humidity lead to faster food spoilage.
Below, I give you tips and tricks on how and where to store your groceries for short and long-term storage, including zero waste tips and gift ideas for Christmas!
Oils: Most of us are likely to keep our oils in the kitchen cupboard. For oils that we use every day, this is the right place to store them, but special oils such as walnut, avocado or pumpkin seed oil, which we rarely use, should be put in the refrigerator; otherwise, they will quickly go rancid. In general, all oils should not be exposed to light, so storage in a dark bottle is advisable.
Butter: While butter can be stored well for a few days at room temperature, it will keep much longer in the refrigerator. If you like your butter softer, you should simply take it out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before use.
Eggs: It’s more complicated here. Eggs do not actually have to be stored in the refrigerator, as the eggshell is covered by a natural protective layer, the cuticle, which prevents germs and bacteria from entering the egg for at least 18 days. In Germany and France, eggs are brushed and not washed before being sold, keeping the cuticle intact, which is why they are not sold chilled and don’t have to be stored in the refrigerator. If eggs are sold chilled in the supermarket, they must be refrigerated at home, as they do not like large temperature fluctuations. The egg holder in the refrigerator door is the ideal place. Place the egg with the blunt side up, as this is where the air chamber in the egg is located, which otherwise migrates and clears the way for germs into the egg. Fresh eggs can be kept for almost 28 days after being laid. But be careful; when preparing recipes that ask for raw eggs, only fresh eggs should be used.
Tip: Egg yolks and whites can be frozen in an airtight container for a few months.
Nuts: If nuts are eaten quickly, they can be safely stored in the kitchen cupboard. For longer storage, however, it is advisable to keep the nuts in the refrigerator in a Tupperware, as the fats they contain can quickly become rancid.
Bread: Bread does not belong in the refrigerator as it needs good air circulation to stay fresh and not get moldy. Bread boxes are particularly suitable, and the bags from the bakery are also handy for short-term storage. (For a zero-waste option, however, these are less. I have got used to going to the bakery with a bread bag, as most bakeries accept them.) Sliced bread does not last very long and must therefore be consumed more quickly. Sliced bread should always be placed with the cut side facing down so that the bread does not dry out.
Tip: Bread bought in stock is easy to freeze when cut and then toasted in slices.
Coffee: Does coffee belong in the refrigerator or pantry? Here too, opinions differ. In general, it can be said that it depends on whether the coffee is ground or not and how it is stored. Coffee should always be stored in an airtight container; otherwise, it will quickly lose its aroma. You should also bear this in mind if you want to keep it in the refrigerator, as the moisture gets into the paper bag, for example, and thus damages the coffee. The refrigerator will then smell of coffee, but the coffee has lost its aroma. So, whether ground or as a bean, coffee needs to be stored as airtight as possible. paper bags that are closed with clamps or elastic bands are therefore an absolute no-go. Special coffee/tea/cocoa tins with a valve in which the coffee can be hermetically sealed are the best option. These are not inexpensive but are definitely worth it, and Christmas is just around the corner. 😉
Tip for coffee lovers: Buy the coffee as a bean and grind the required amount before use.
Cocoa: In principle, the same applies here as for coffee. When packed airtight and stored in a cool and dark place, cocoa lasts best. A special can with a valve is advisable if you love high-quality cocoa. For Nesquik lovers, a can or a screw-top jar is sufficient.
Tea: Tea also loses its aroma if stored improperly. The same applies as for coffee; if packed airtight and stored in a dark place, the aroma of the tea is retained for a longer time.
Cake: The cold air in the refrigerator dries out the cake quickly, no matter how well it is wrapped, so it is best to store it on a cake plate on the kitchen counter unless the chocolate or frosting is already running off the cake.
Flour: It is best to transfer it to a large screw-on or swing-top jar or a can and store it in a dark, dry place. This prevents the flour from losing nutrients and from being afflicted by food moths.
Canned food: Glass or canned food can be kept for a very long time, as the food has been made durable by heating and it is hermetically sealed. Canned food is best stored in the basement or in a cool, dry and dark place. Cans with domed lids indicate the deterioration of the food. These foods should be avoided.
Jam: Only opened jam jars need to be put in the fridge to prevent mold. Jam can be kept in sterilized jars in the cupboard for up to two years. Though it often loses its color it is still edible. Zero-waste tip: If some mold has formed on the jam, you can remove it generously and continue to enjoy the rest of the jam without any problems.
Spices: Even if a pretty spice rack looks nice next to or above the stove, the heat of the cooking is rather detrimental to the quality of the spices. Spices should always be kept in a dark and dry place that is not too warm; otherwise, they will quickly lose their aromas. Ground spices have a shorter shelf life than whole grains, so they should only be bought in small quantities. The shell of peppercorns, nutmeg and cumin serves as a natural protection. The full aromas only develop through rubbing, mashing or mortaring. When seasoning with the spice jar, do not sprinkle directly over the cooked food; otherwise, the hot vapors will rise into the glass and lead to the spices spoiling more quickly. It is better to sprinkle the spice on a spoon or in the palm of your hand first.
Tip: Those who like to cook a lot should consider investing in a stone or granite mortar or get one for Christmas. The mortar is definitely my favorite kitchen utensil.
Cheese: Cheese is best stored at around 12 degrees and 90% humidity. Great, but what do I do if I only have a perfectly ordinary refrigerator, you may ask yourself. There are several things you can do anyway to keep your cheese fresh. Cheese from the cheesemonger should always stay in its original paper and be stored in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. A distinction is to be made between soft and hard cheese. Hard cheeses such as Emmental, Comté or Manchego can be stored properly for up to a week without losing too much of their taste. Soft cheeses such as Camembert or fresh goat’s cheese, for example, must be consumed more quickly and should ideally be sealed airtight or wrapped in a beeswrap. Hard cheese from the supermarket can be wrapped in beeswrap as well. Take the cheese out of the refrigerator about an hour before eating.
Zero-waste tip: Save the rind of hard cheese, freeze it and add it to your stew or soup. For extra taste!
Pasta, rice, legumes and cereals: they belong in the pantry. Opened packs should be kept in screw-top jars, cans or boxes for optimal and visually appealing storage.
Meat: Meat definitely belongs in the refrigerator, preferably on the glass plate above the vegetable compartment. The shelf life of the meat naturally depends on how it is prepared; minced meat, for example, has to be processed more quickly. Some butchers offer to seal the meat airtight for optimal storage and are also happy to provide information about the shelf life of the different meats.
Red wine: Only had a glass or two in the evening and don’t know what to do with the rest? Put it in the fridge! Oxygen and warmth damage opened wine, so it should be stored in the refrigerator with the cork on and consumed within one to two days. Vacuum corks, with which the oxygen can be pumped out of the bottle, are even better. Take the wine out of the fridge an hour or two before drinking.
Juices: Store opened juices in the refrigerator and use within 2-3 days.
Sauces: Opened sauces belong in the refrigerator. Always keep an eye on the best before date and, as with all foods, smell and taste whether the product is still edible.
MARA // Bordeaux