Friday, May 15, 2009

Storing Food for the Best Results

When I'm camping I happily shop for groceries, pack the camper, and ultimately unpack the camper. Finding room for all the food required for this odyssey brings out all my pack rat instincts.

Shopping while traveling is not the time to tempt fate. Buy fresh produce that is free from defects, bruises, and blemishes. Do not choose overripe produce—make sure fruits are firm with no soft spots or bruises. One bad specimen will spoil the rest. Select lettuce and other greens with firm leaves and no signs of wilt or decay. Wash everything thoroughly before you use it. The vegetable crisper in your fridge performs better if it is at least two-thirds full. If crisper is less full than this, veggies will keep better if you put them in plastic bags first.

Check the thermometer in the meat case to see that meats are held at temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Buy only clean, refrigerated eggs with no cracks and keep them refrigerated after purchase.

Avoid packaged food that is damaged or ripped. Insects can find their way into the smallest cracks and humidity is a real spoiler. Also avoid canned foods that are dented, rusted, or bulged. The few cents you might save on the clearance table is not worth the risk.

Check the pull date on perishable foods such as milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs, and bread. Determining the freshness of bread can be tricky, if there is no date on the wrapper. I check the color of the twisty ties. The shelf stockers will put older items out front and the giveaway is the one lone blue tie in a field of red.

Bread keeps fresher longer at room temperature than in the fridge. In hot, humid weather, bread is better protected against mold by storing it in the fridge than in the breadbox. These items, that were once a kitchen staple, are now back on the market again. They never did work all that well, but collectors are snapping up the older ones and paying premium prices for them. Just goes to prove that if you hang on to something long enough, it will come around again.


  1. I love reading your blogs - you have such good advice for storing and preparation of food.

    NA Sharpe

  2. Thanks for the tips, Karen! Sometimes I've brought things home and been surprised when I've opened them up and they've not been fresh. Thanks for the reminder to be more diligent at the store before I make the purchase.


  3. HI Karen,
    Thanks for the tips, especially about the veggie crisper - I had no idea. Hope your road trip was fantastic!

    Karen Walker

  4. Excellent tips. Will keep them handy.

    I love buying bread in small bakeries in France--fresh, long crusty loaves. Best part: no plastic wrapper, just the bread!


  5. Good post for me, since I love camping!

  6. Thanks for the advice. Any comment on storing vegetables that don't emit ethylene from those that do?

    Jennifer Taggart

  7. When I travel, I tend to eat out... too lazy to cook.

    Romance by Enid Wilson

  8. As an avid camper, these are most helpful tips - thanks! And I didn't know about bread storing best at room temperature. I've always used the pragmatic logic that storing it in the fridge was best. My, my my ...

    The Old Silly from Free Spirit Blog

  9. I alway learn something on this blog. This time I learned that bread lasts longer at room temp, rather than in the fridge. Can't wait to get home and take my loaves out of the fridge.

    alan chin


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~ I'm the author of Headwind: The Intrepid Adventures of OSS Agent Katrin Nissen. If you're a WWII buff, you'll like it here!