Of all the inventions known to man, refrigeration is certainly one of the most tasteful. It prevents spoilage and is commonly recognised as an essential part of food safety because it delays food-borne bacterial growth. However, some of what we conveniently pop into the fridge needn’t be there in the first place, and in some cases, may even cause certain food stuffs to perish faster.
Farm fresh carrots age quickly and go limp in the fridge because the green leafy bits draw moisture away from the roots. That said, the versatile carrot can be stored in a refrigerator but only under specific and decidedly pernickety conditions. In fact, they can keep in the refrigeration for up to three months if properly prepped.
Storage tip: To preserve crispy freshness and taste it’s important to minimise moisture loss. Chop off the green tops, tightly seal unwashed carrots in a plastic bag and stash in the coolest part of the fridge. Wash your carrots just before use only.
Olive oil stored in the fridge condenses and becomes stodgy and buttery although it doesn’t go bad. It also turns rancid when exposed to light, oxygen and heat.
Storage tip: Store in a sealed container in a cool, dark place such as a kitchen cabinet or wine cellar away from the oven.
Wrapping your bread in plastic and storing it in the fridge is the worst thing you can do. It will dry out faster and become stale.
Storage tip: If you want your bread to last for longer store it in the freezer.
Tomato sauce (ketchup)
This is one of the big kitchen condiment debates. Traditionally, ketchup should not be stored in the fridge. Nowadays more and more products (including some brands of ketchup) have reduced salt and sugar in them, and salt and sugar are the very ingredients that lengthen a products shelf life.
Storage tip: Check the manufacturer label and store as instructed.
Refrigeration causes basil to wilt and turns basil leaves black.
Storage tip: Basil thrives if you treat it as you would fresh-cut flowers. Trim the stems and place your basil bunch in a glass or jug of water. Loosely cover the basil with a plastic bag and keep it on the kitchen counter. This tip for keeping your basil fresh and perky won’t win any “pretty” awards but it works.
Incorrect food storage can impact flavour and nutritional value, and can become unnecessarily wasteful and expensive. The room temperature rule of thumb doesn’t always work either as room temperature varies depending on where you are in the world. Best to do some research, experiment and find out what works best for you.