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Best practices to help keep food fresh longer and avoid food waste

Best practices to help keep food fresh longer and avoid food waste

Best practices to help keep food fresh longer and avoid food waste

Last month, we painted a rather grim picture of the consumption habits of Canadian households, which showed, among other things, that 63% of the food we throw is still edible.

In our commitment to help you significantly reduce food waste, we propose today to share with you the best practices to preserve food longer.

Start in the pantry

In the pantry – which must be a cool, dry place – should be stored foods with a long shelf life such as canned and dry goods (flour, grain products, pasta, etc.).

  • Make sure to rotate foods so that the last ones in are placed in the back.  Often the latest ones bought  will be the first used because we push the canned goods to the back to make room for newly bought ones.
  • Remember also that some products, once opened, need to be refrigerated as is the case for jams, marinades, mayonnaise, etc.  This information is indicated on the package.
  • It is generally not recommended to keep products for more than one year. However, foods with low acid content (such as vegetables) have a shelf life of two to five years.

In the fridge, each product in its place

Refrigerator manufacturers went to the trouble of designing different spaces for different food storage because the temperature inside a fridge is not constant everywhere and can vary. For example, we have all probably discovered, to our dismay, that the door is a bad place to put the pint of milk, the latter representing the hottest part of the refrigerator.

Proper food preservation helps prevent foodborne illness. Therefore, the temperature of the refrigerator must always be 4 ° C or less and it is important not to overfill it because, too full, cold air no longer circulates as freely.

We invite you to consult this representation of a fridge that explains where to distribute food according to their need for cold.

representation of a fridge that explains where to distribute food according to their need for cold

Freezing vegetables and fresh fruits

A good habit to develop is to get vegetables and fruits when they are available at an affordable price and to freeze them. Not only will we save money, but freezing is also an easy and quick way to maintain the nutritional qualities of fully ripe vegetables.

The main steps of freezing for vegetables

  • Washing each vegetable carefully
  • Blanching according to the specifications of each
  • Chilling
  • Freezing
  • Thawing
    • Boiling
    • Pan frying
    • Baking

The main steps of freezing for fruits

Wash the fruit under running water, drain well and blot with paper towels, and also remove all excess moisture to reduce formation of ice crystals on food surfaces when frozen.

The freezing methods:

  1. Dry pack: Place prepared, whole, or cut raw fruit directly in packages, seal, label and freeze.
  2. Tray pack: Place pieces of prepared fruit in a single layer on a cookie sheet or shallow pan, freeze uncovered for 1 to 2 hours; when frozen, package accordingly, and return to freezer.
  3. Dry sugar pack: Coat fruit with sugar to preserve flavour. Place sugar-coated fruit directly in packages, seal, label, and then freeze.

For all the details regarding the freezing of vegetables and fruits, we invite you to consult or download the brochure of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association.

Other valuable tips for freezing all types of foods

  • Always chill cooked food. They can be placed in the refrigerator in a shallow container with the lid half open.
  • Always use bags and containers for freezing. Never fill to the brim to allow liquid expansion and, in the case of bags, empty the air.
  • It is better to divide a recipe, for example, into several portions.
  • Keep a minimum temperature of -18 ° C and do not overload the freezer.
  • Important to indicate the date of freezing on the containers and defrost the oldest foods first.

Jackie Beaudoin, Leclerc Insurance and Financial Services
Sources:  Love Food Hate Waste, Protégez-vous, Half your Plate