Storing fresh ingredients properly and in the right place extends their lifespan—and helps reduce waste. More often than not, our partner-in-crime is the fridge, and we partnered with KitchenAid to share all our resources for food storage.
It's a little cringe-worthy to think about, but try to recall the produce, fruit, or meat you've tossed in the past few weeks (or months, if you're better at using up the bits and bobs). It's probably more than you, or any of us, would like to admit. A lot more.
The USDA states that "in the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40% of the food supply." There are many factors that contribute to this percentage, including retailers' waste and the waste that happens along the production line, but food discarded (for one reason or another) at home is a huge contributor.
In light of this overwhelming number, I'm constantly trying to find better, more consistent ways to keep what's in my fridge and pantry fresh, so I eat more of it (instead of sadly tossing the questionably-dated eggs or weird, old flour). Here, all in one place, are little, easy-to-do everyday steps I consult regularly on how to select and store food effectively, from all the nooks and crannies of the Food52 archives.
Also, take a gander here for lots of good nuggets on storing produce so it lasts longer.
When it comes to fish and meat, the fridge (and freezer) is your friend. Unless you're using fresh fish the day you buy it, stick it in the freezer—it'll keep longer, and with more flavor intact. Fresh meat is a little more forgiving—you'll get a few days out of it stored in the fridge—but if you want to freeze it, you can keep it for a couple months.
One good rule to always follow is as simple as can be: If it smells bad, don't buy—or eat—it. More tips on how to pack it, where to put it in the fridge, and defrosting below:
With all the different types of produce and fruit out there, it can be mind-boggling trying to figure out how to store each to maximize their freshness: Should citrus be stored in the fridge? How long should onions be kept? Will berries thrive on the counter? What's the best way to store fresh herbs?
Here's a short, visual guide to use when storing your produce and deciding what to eat first.
But if you want more details, it's all here—plus, some ways to use up what's going bad:
While the code to storing dairy isn't so hard to crack (fridge it!), it can sometimes be difficult to identify the freshest stuff, like eggs or milk, so you get as much time out of them as possible. Don't think you can store butter after you've browned it? Think again.
So how do you store cheese without it getting hard around the edges, or flat in taste? What to do with all the nubs and bits hanging around in the back of the drawer instead of tossing them in the trash? Most of the time, for me, it's a "just stuff it in your face" kind of thing, without thinking about texture, or grate it onto whatever pasta dish is happening that night. But there is always a better way, like below:
It's pretty predictable that in every movie or TV show you've watched, all the alcohol is stored in a fancy cupboard or out to show what's available. Half-filled bottles of vermouth, amaro, and more litter the bar—but is that really the right way to store leftover or half-finished bottles of booze? (In short: More of it actually needs to go in the fridge than you think).
If you haven't rooted around in your pantry for a while, it can be a mildly scary place to think about diving into. (How many boxes of old baking soda will there be? Will the beans still be good? How will I know?) However, if you know how to properly store your flour, nuts, olive oil, sugar, and so on, I can bet you know what'll happen: They'll last longer, and taste better at that. Each type of pantry item takes a bit of reading up on to understand what it responds best to, so do your research here:
If you're a food storage whiz or a produce whisperer, please share your storage tips in the comments below!
KitchenAid®'s Counter-Depth French Door Refrigerator has a roomy interior, adjustable, slide-away shelves, and under-shelf storage, which makes storing all sorts of fresh ingredients a cinch. KitchenAid is our new Test Kitchen partner, so you'll be seeing them around these parts more often.