Before we start off on our food storage adventure there is a true story I must tell. For many years, instead of making my own bread stuffing I love the flavor of a particular name brand stuffing mix, so you might understand when one day I was cooking up roast chicken dinner which of course included my favorite stuffing mix. On the box it said, “New and Improved”! When it was time to eat dinner my family and I all had a bite of the stuffing. Well…it was horrible. I was shocked that my favorite stuffing mix had changed so much that I called the 1-800 number on the box to complain. How could they change the recipe? I was furious. I told the person on the phone how upset I was. She had me read her the code number on the box. “Sir” she said, “That stuffing box is over three years old. We do not recommend you use our product past one year.”
I immediately knew what had happened! My wife had visited her mother and she had given her a box of dry goods from her house to take back to our house.
So as you giggle a bit about our stuffing story, remember whenever you store anything, FIFO: First In First Out. When you get home from that shopping trip take all your dry goods and use a black marker to write that day’s date on it so when you reach in that cabinet use your oldest date first – hopefully it’s not three years old!
When you contribute food to your local food drives remember to not give expired food. They throw away outdated donations by the dumpster load!
Keep your dry storage areas cool and dry and well vented. Moisture and heat are the biggest dangers to dry and canned goods. The temperature of the storage area should be between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If possible keep relative humidity at 50 – 60 percent.
Store food in their original packaging. Once open store the product in airtight containers that are clearly labeled. Never buy or use dented cans. You are taking a chance with your family’s health if a hole or crack lets air into the can. Bacteria will grow into a common illness called botulism.
Store dry goods at least six inches off the floor and out of direct sunlight. Remember FIFO: First In First Out. Check the expiration date on your dry goods. If you are past the date printed, throw it away NOT give it away.
Our next article will be on storage of refrigerated and frozen items.
– Chef Bill
The Hooksett Community Kitchen provides free meals to anyone wishing to attend every third Monday of the month from 5 pm to 7 pm.