September is National Food Safety Education Month. My goodness, we almost missed it! Thankfully there’s Lifehacker, a website that compiles tips on everything from how to get motivated to how to use charcoal to “de-stinkify” your fridge. Lifehacker recently linked to an article about safely storing food on Gomestic. The piece offers up some pretty basic advice (fruits and vegetables stored together ripen faster, so separate them if you want them to last longer; vacuum-seal or zip-lock items in the freezer to protect them from freezer burn), but it cited an amazing statistic: Americans throw away an average of 14 percent of their food because it spoils.
I’m sure I waste at least this much due to poor storage. According to my eighth-grade-level mental calculator, that’s a lot of money donated to the cylindrical file. So I went looking for some more detailed food-storage tips, and found two good sites. The National Center for Home Food Preservation provides links to some useful documents, and this amazing wiki lists expiration dates for just about every type of food you can imagine. Among the interesting tips I found:
• Partially thawed food may be refrozen as long as it still has ice crystals (although this may affect the quality of the food).
• Uncooked egg whites separated from egg yolks can be frozen as they are. To freeze uncooked whites or whole eggs, add 1/8 teaspoon salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons corn syrup per 1/4 cup of whites. Thaw in refrigerator.
• Do not wash fruit before storing—moisture encourages spoilage.
• Ice crystals on the inside of an ice cream container are formed by sublimation. As the ice cream is consumed, the air space within the container increases. This allows more water to evaporate from the ice cream, and subsequently refreeze. Therefore, as the remaining ice cream decreases, so does the shelf life. A large container with a small amount of the ice cream remaining may last only two to three days.