Safe food storage
We’ve all got a bit more food in the house as we try to go to the grocery store less and shelter-in-place.
When the temperatures rise, so does concern for food safety. Most of us know we need to put certain foods in the refrigerator to keep them safe – foods like milk, meat, eggs, chopped tomatoes and cut melons. But there are other foods that may not be so obvious.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers this useful list of foods that need to go into the fridge to be safe and last longer.
- Some tortillas are prone to molding. That's why the fine print on many tortilla packages recommends refrigerating after opening. Chill them and they'll stay in tip-top shape until the expiration date on the package.
- Cured meats including salami are less likely to harbor bacteria than cooked meats, but that doesn't mean they’re always 100 percent safe. A 2006 study of 1,020 dry Italian salamis found that 23 percent of them contained the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. Cured meats also can contain other harmful bacteria such as E. coli. Store opened salami in the refrigerator for up to four weeks to slow potential bacterial growth.
- It’s fine to ripen bananas on the kitchen counter. Trouble is, they keep ripening, and ripening and ripening. Once they’re ready to eat, pop them in the fridge. If their skins turn brown, don’t worry, they’re still fine.
- Nuts have fragile unsaturated fats that go rancid quickly. While that won’t hurt your health, it’s definitely bad news for flavor. Keep nuts tasting their best by stowing them in a moisture-tight glass container in the refrigerator for up to a year.
- Maple syrup has a surprisingly short shelf life. So if yours is sitting in your pantry, it’s time to relocate it to the fridge. Stored in a glass container or a tin, maple syrup usually can stay fresh for up to a year. However, if you notice any mold growth, be sure to toss it immediately.
- Dried fruit has less moisture than fresh fruit, so it doesn’t spoil as quickly, but it still needs refrigeration for maximum freshness. Keep it in the main compartment of your refrigerator for up to six months.
- Restaurants may leave their ketchup on the table, but that doesn’t mean you should. While the high acid content will keep most bacteria at bay, cool temperatures help maintain flavor and freshness. Refrigerate ketchup for up to six months.
- Within a single day of harvest, an ear of corn will lose up to 50 percent of its sugar when left at room temperature. Unless you are going to cook it right away, keep corn on the cob in the fridge — husks and all — for up to two days.
- Chocolate syrup is an easy way to make a glass of milk taste even better. But not if it has developed funny flavors. Chill yours after opening and you can enjoy it for six months.
- Pecan and pumpkin pies are made with eggs and can be magnets for bacteria. Fresh from the oven, they’re okay to eat at room temperature for up to two hours and only one hour if it is over 90 degrees. After that, they should go straight into the fridge for a maximum of three days.
And with all that food in the house, here’s a frittata you can make in the slow cooker for an easy breakfast or dinner.
Easy Vegetable-Ham Frittata
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium shallots, chopped
- 8 ounces broccoli florets
- 1 medium (6 ounces) zucchini, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
- ½ cup chopped lower-sodium deli ham
- Cooking spray
- 12 large eggs
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium.
- Add shallots, broccoli and zucchini, and cook, stirring often until slightly browned, about 3 minutes.
- Add ham and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Coat bottom and 2 inches up sides of 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray; add vegetable spray.
- Whisk together eggs, Parmesan, basil, salt and pepper; pour over vegetables in slow cooker.
- Cover slow cooker and cook over High until frittata is set and the tip of a knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- Cut into 8 slices; lift slices out with a spatula to plate. Serves 8 (serving size: 1 slice).
Per serving: 349 calories, 27 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 23 g fat, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugars, 610 mg sodium.