Food storage tips

Food storage is very important to ensure food stays good and lasts as long as possible. It also reduces waste and saves money.

For most food, just keeping in a cool, dry place and checking dates is all that’s needed, but some need a little more care.

Potatoes

  • Must be kept away from onions and garlic. Like seriously as far away as you can.
  • Must be kept in dark.
  • When potatoes first arrive in the shop, and take them out of the plastic, and leave them to dry on surface for a while as they are often moist. Once they are dry I keep them in a potato storage bag which has a black lining, inside the cupboard.
  • Make sure you always eat the oldest potatoes first. 
  • If you have somewhere cold like a garage to keep them, even better, but don’t put them in the fridge. 

Bread

I am very careful when the shop arrives to ensure only a bread that will get eaten in the next few days is left out, the rest is put immediately in the freezer. Pitas especially. I have seen too many mouldy pitas in the past, I now regard them as a frozen food. Some breads last longer, like brioche burger buns, or some types of wraps, so they can go in a cupboard or draw.

It is not unreasonable to have all of your bread in the freezer, most sliced bread only takes about ten minutes to defrost and be ready to eat.

Pittas, wraps and chapatis take up less room in the freezer than loaves of bread. You can also have some bake-at-home rolls and baguettes in the cupboard as these often have a few months on their dates (however not the healthiest for everyday as they are made with mainly white flour, even the healthier-looking seedy ones.

Keep some bread flour and yeast in small quantities if you are inclined to bake bread, but these can’t be kept too long so use caution.

Also, consider making soda bread as it’s easier and quicker and doesn’t rely on having in-date yeast. 

Onions

  • Keep them away from the potatoes!
  • Keep them in the dark and dry.
  • If moist on arrival dry before storing
  • If any have any mould on outside, don’t store with the others and use quickly. 
  • You could always cook straight and freeze in ice cube trays. This is a brilliant way to speed up recipe cooking, or can for a base for a very quick soup. 

Flour

  • Freezing flour for two weeks can kill off weevil eggs, so you can keep the flour for longer.
  • Keeping flour packets in sealed containers to prevent weevils getting in.
  • Don’t get much flour unless you use a lot because if you do get weevils they can get into a lot of other foods as well.

Herbs

Having herbs on hand growing in your garden or on a windowsill is obviously the handiest, but not always easy.

Rosemary and sage are probably the easiest, growing all year round very hardy. Thyme is good too. Chives grow for most of the year and grow back the following year. And they all look lovely in your garden (or window box).

Parsley has proven difficult for a novice gardener like me, so frozen parsley what I have decided to opt for. 

Basil usually lasts awhile indoors if you buy a pot from a supermarket, however those pots usually have lots of individual plants all in a tiny pot so they do die quick quickly. To get them to last longer, split out one or two individual plants and repot in a larger pot with lots of lovely compost and water regularly, but make sure it drains. Put on a sunny windowsill. You can also do the same with parsley apparently, but I have yet to get it to grow abundantly so… good luck!

Dried herbs that I usually have in stock are oregano, bay leaves and tarragon.

Fresh spices

Garlic needs to be stored in a cool dry place, not the fridge. I usually keep it in with my onions. There are various alternatives to fresh garlic, like puree and chopped garlic in jars, but they have never appealed to me as garlic usually lasts for ages if stored correctly. If I do run out, I use garlic oil instead.

I put Chillies in the freezer whole to stop them going to waste. They are quite easy to chop when still frozen, so you can even just chop halve and chuck the rest back in!

Ginger, I usually buy a largish quantity and blitz in the food-processor into smallish chunks. In then freeze flat in little piles, and transfer into a freezer bag. It defrosts incredibly quickly. No more mouldy ginger in the veg draw for me.