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Inspired by conversations on the FOOD52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun. Today, we're talking about smart storage.
We’ve given you Our Weekly Grocery List; now, we’ll show you how to stock your larder. Part of treating ingredients correctly is knowing the best places to store them, and for how long. We're tackling several storage myths and general confusions, starting with the counter and the pantry. We'll be covering the rest of the kitchen next week.
Garlic, onions, and shallots: These alliums can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to two weeks; in the fridge, they will turn mealy and lose much of their flavor.
Tomatoes, potatoes, and winter squash: Although it may seem blasphemous to keep vegetables out of the refrigerator, trust us (and the USDA): these should be kept in a cool, dry place instead. (Plus, they make beautiful decorations.)
Bananas, citrus, and melons: Like the vegetables listed above, these fruits are best left on the counter. Once cut, they should be relegated to the refrigerator; otherwise, they will begin to dry out.
Bread: To slow down retrogradation -- the process in which the starch molecules in bread crystallize -- Cook's Illustrated says to store bread at room temperature for up to 2 days, either tightly-wrapped in foil or in a Ziploc bag to minimize moisture loss. After 2 days, wrap the bread in foil, place in a freezer bag, and store it in the freezer. And to revive crusty bread that's been stored for more than a day, just pop it into the oven for a few minutes.
Cakes and pies: According to pastry chef Stella Parks, both frosted and un-frosted whole cakes will last for about a week when tightly wrapped in plastic. Cut cakes have a shorter shelf life, around 3 to 4 days. Fruit pies can be kept on the countertop for up to 2 days; after this, move them to the refrigerator.
Dry goods: Generally, dry goods can be stored for up to 6 months (longer if you take good care of them), according to scientists at Colorado State University. Once a package is open, it’s best to move it to an air-tight container; this will ensure freshness and keep your pantry cleaner to boot.
Nuts: Store your nuts in air-tight containers if possible; these allow them to maintain the right level of moisture. For ultimate freshness, consider storing them with their shells on.
Spices: As the LA Times tells us, heat, light, air, and humidity are all spices’ enemies; your spices should live in your pantry. Whole spices last much longer than crushed or ground; these can be kept for up to 2 years, while ground spices should be refreshed every 6 months. Airtight tins or small spice jars are the best mode of storage.
What are your tried-and-true pantry or counter storage tricks?