glossary

Meats

Poultry

Skin has a much denser microbial population than internal meat tissue. Therefore meat eaten with skin, primarily poultry, is far more prone to bacterial spoilage. This explains why cooking surfaces and utensils used for preparing chicken must be thoroughly cleaned before working with other foods. Chicken meat stored in the fridge will experience a 10,000 fold increase in microbial population in 6 days.

Fish

Fish is similarly short-lived in a fridge because the natural enzymes and microbes present are accustomed to a cold environment already.

Freezing meat

Freezing has several limiting factors. The process of water crystallisation damages the tissue and when the meat thaws fluid rich in nutrients leaks out in a viscous pool known as ‘drip’. Drip can be minimised by rapid freezing which forms smaller crystals. Food frozen for a while develops ‘freezer burn’ where the surface of the meat dehydrates. To avoid this wrap the meat tightly in water-impermeable film. Freezing promotes the oxidation of fats, especially unsaturated ones, resulting in rancid flavours. Beef has mostly saturated fat so has a longer freezer life than other meats.

Beef

Store in fridge on a rack over a container to collect juices covered with a damp cotton cloth or wrap in grease-proof paper.
Large joints use within 5 days, cubed meat within 3 days. Use minced meat within 48 hours – this is because a lot of the cell membranes are broken exposing nutrient rich liquids to bacterial colonisation and also causing minced meat to lose a lot of liquid in cooking.

Chicken

Remove from wrappings, transfer to plate covered in cling film.
Use whole fresh chicken within 4 days, use portioned fresh chicken within 2 days.

Duck

Use whole fresh duck within 3 days, use portioned fresh duck within 2 days.

Lamb

Store as beef.
Large joints use within 5 days. Minced meat use within 24 hours.

Mussels

Store covered with damp cloth in fridge 2 days

Pork

Store as beef.
Most cuts use within 3 days. Minced meat use within 24 hours.

Prawns

To ‘velvet’ mix ½ c cornflour 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda for 1 kg of prawns, massage though prawns 3 mins, transfer to colander and massage under cold running water 5 mins, drain.

Sausages

Store in fridge 2 days.

Scallops

Buy scallops that are pale gold not white, soaked in water).

Squid

Use fresh within 36 hours.

Fruit

Apples

Store in ventilated plastic bag in fridge

Avocado

Ripen hard fruit in an airy spot up to 5 days

Accelerate with ripe banana/apple

Blueberries

Store unwashed in fridge in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.

Pineapple

Does not ripen (ie get sweeter) once picked. Select your pineapple carefully.

Figs

Store in single layer in fridge 3 days.

Mango

Will ripen once picked.Speed ripening by placing next to bananas, apples or tomatoes.

Melons

Honeydews will ripen at room temp for 2-3 days. Other melons will not.

Lemons

Store in single layer

Oranges

Juice warmed fruit

Papaya

Will ripen once picked

Peaches & nectarines

Store in single layer. Will not ripen once picked

Pears

Pears need oxygen circulating around them or they will rot. Should be picked hard but fully mature then stored at a cool temperature to ripen slowly. Ripe pears soften near the stem. Once ripe store in paper bag or ventilated plastic bag in fridge 3 days. Can hasten ripening as for avocado

Pineapple

Will not ripen once picked. Store in plastic bag with leaves exposed in fridge 3 days

Plums

Will ripen once picked.

 

Vegetables, pulses and nuts

Artichokes

Store in ventilated plastic bag in fridge 2-3 days

Asparagus

Discard rubber band from bunch. Store in ventilated plastic bag in fridge 2-3 days

Basil

Store whole plant with roots in water, plastic bag over leaves, in fridge. Store cut bunch unwashed in paper lined plastic bag in fridge

Beans, fresh

Store in ventilated plastic bag in fridge 2-3 days.

Bok choy

Store in ventilated plastic bag in fridge 2-3 days.

Broccoli

Store in ventilated plastic bag in fridge 2-3 days. Separate florets from stems and soak in lightly salted water 10 mins. Peel stalks and cook separately from florets

Cauliflower

Cook in lightly salted boiling water for about 8 mins

Carrots

Store in ventilated plastic bag in fridge 5 days

Celery

Store in ventilated plastic bag in fridge 2-3 days

Chillies

Store fresh at room temperature

Coriander

Stand with roots in cold water and plastic bag over leaves in fridge

Cucumbers

Do not put in fridge in cool weather

Dill

Store unwashed paper lined plastic bag in fridge 1 week

Eggplant

Store in fridge 4 days.

Fennel

Store bulb in cling film in fridge 5 days. For salad slice fine on a mandoline and refresh in cold water.

Garlic

Do not refrigerate. Store as potatoes.

Leeks

Store in ventilated plastic bag in fridge 1 week If cooking whole clean by making a crossways slit at leafy end and stand in a tall container of water for 2 hours.

Mint

Store unwashed in ventilated plastic bag in fridge

Mushrooms

Store in paper bag in fridge

Okra

Store in ventilated plastic bag in fridge 4 days

Peas

Eat fresh as soon as possible as sweetcorn

Potatoes

Mature potatoes should keep up to 2 months in a cool, dark place. Light causes them to go green, bitter and poisonous. Do not store in the fridge as the starches will convert to sugars. Do not store alongside onions as they will mutually accelerate each other spoiling.

Pumpkin

Once cut use within 2 days. To cook heat chunks in 2cm water in covered saucepan.

Rhubarb

Store stalks in cling film in fridge 1 week.

Salad greens

To store a whole lettuce rinse quickly, remove core, place in sealed plastic container 3 days. Do not store next to apples, pears, bananas, melons. To prepare wash gently, pat dry, place in paper lined ventilated plastic bag 1 hour.

Spinach

Store unwashed bunch in ventilated plastic bag in fridge 3 days. Store unwashed leaves in ventilated plastic bag in fridge 2 days.

Sweetcorn

Eat as soon as possible. Once picked, the sugars in the corn start returning to starch. In effect, it ‘un-ripens’.

Sweet pepper

Store in fridge 1 week.

Tomatoes

Store at room temperature. Will ripen in a day or so in the sun. Only remove skin and seeds if you are cooking the tomato.

Walnuts

Walnuts tend to go rancid after longer storage. Freezing them helps to avoid this.

Witlof

Store in brown paper bag in fridge 2 days.

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