Featured Content

  • From Purchase to Storage, Tips on Extending Shelf Life

    Grocery ShoppingThe average American wastes more than 200 pounds of food a year, says the Consumer Reports ShopSmart magazine.  The Vegetarian Times website says, “Americans throw out 25% of the produce we buy because it’s gone bad.” What a pity! Ever wish you had a magic wand that could keep your food purchases safe and tasty until you’ve consumed the very last morsel or drop? It would be nice, but you don’t really need that wand.  If you select foods carefully, get your perishables home and refrigerated promptly, and wrap and store foods appropriately, you can extend the shelf life of your food purchases and thereby cut down on grocery shopping trips and food bills.

  • Should Hot Food Go into the Fridge?

    Hot FoodCooking for a crowd?  Then chances are, you’re planning to prepare some hot dishes a day or two in advance.  Then, you may ask yourself, can my casserole go right from the oven into the fridge, or is that a bad idea?  This quandary actually poses 3 questions: 

     

    1) Will hot food damage my refrigerator?

     

    2) Will adding hot food harm my already refrigerated food? 

     

    3) Will immediate refrigeration be bad for the hot food?  We asked two members of our Advisory Board, Dr. Timothy Bowser, a food process engineer, and Dr. Karin Allen, a food scientist, to provide the answers.

  • How long can I keep refrigerated leftovers?

    Leftover Food scientist Susan Brewer offers the following advice: the amount of time which leftovers are safe and/or of good quality depends on the leftovers.

     

    Mixed dishes which contain (cooked) animal products (such as meat, milk, and eggs) tend to have the shortest shelf life both for quality and safety reasons. They may have originally had pathogenic bacteria associated with them. If cooking didn’t kill every single one, the bacteria can grow (slowly), making the product unsafe. Three days is the standard length of time recommended for these products.

  • “Myth-information” about Food Safety: You’d Better Not Believe It

    Food PyramidOne dictionary definition of a myth is a widely held belief that has not been proved.  However, as used today, the word usually refers to an idea that’s widespread but wrong. When the myth is about safe ways to handle food, it can also be unsafe.  The following myths were excerpted from an article created by Alaska’s Food Safety and Sanitation Program. The explanations debunking these myths can eradicate misconceptions you may have and help you operate your kitchen based upon scientific facts rather than fiction.

  • What is the best way to clean fruits and vegetables?

    All fruits and vegetables should be washed well with water. A scrub brush should also be used on for hard-skinned fruits (for example, apples and cantaloupe) and vegetables with irregular skins (such as squash and potatoes) Following these procedures will get them as clean as commercial washes.

  • Everything You Need to Know about Wrapping Food Right

    food storage Why wrap food? That’s easy to answer. We do it to prevent oxidation (interaction with oxygen that causes food to deteriorate), loss of moisture, discoloration, transfer of odors, and microbial cross-contamination.

     

    How best to wrap (or store) food?  That takes a lot more space to answer. The array of storage wraps, bags, and containers in the supermarket can leave one befuddled about what product is best for what purpose.  In addition to regular plastic wrap, today there are plastic wraps  and bags for freezing as well as plastic wrap that’s presumably microwave-safe  and wraps that clings better than the original versions (such as Saran Cling Plus).  There are plastic containers in a variety of sizes and shapes, some labeled microwave safe. Then there’s aluminum foil. (Don’t call it tin foil.  It isn’t made with tin anymore.) It comes in various lengths, widths, and strengths as well as a nonstick version and pop-up foil wrappers.

     

    Of all these wrapping products, what best protects your foods from air, pathogens, and each other? Click below  to reach 18 Q/As that tell how to extend the shelf life of foods and wrap them safely.

  • When to Throw Food Out? Not on the Use-By Date

    eggs, salsa, yogurtOn August 24th, I got ambitious and cleaned out my refrigerator.  I found these foods--raw eggs, low-fat yogurt, and mild salsa--all languishing far beyond their so-called "expiration" dates.  I asked 4 of the scientists on the Shelf Life Advice Advisory Board to tell me if I could still eat them or if I had to throw them out.  The first 3 sections of this article let you compare their responses.  I hope their explanations help you make better decisions about what "old" food to discard and when.  Note that the philosophy often followed is "Waste not, want not."

  • Tips on Reheating for Safe, Yummy Leftovers

    leftover pizzaRemember "srevotfel"?  You ate it, but perhaps you didn't love it. No, this isn't an exotic imported dish; it's just "leftovers" spelled backwards to avoid calling a re-warmed meal by an unappealing name. You'll probably have leftovers in your not-too-distant future. After all, you don't want your holiday spread to look skimpy; you know that, when the pickings seem lean, guests take less. But, when you cook too much for the size of the crowd you're entertaining, leftovers are inevitable.  So what, of all this stuff they didn't eat, can be safely reheated, and how can we make srevotfel taste good enough to be devoured with enthusiasm?  In the following Q/As, we have expert answers from our Board scientists and the U.S. government.  Let's begin with safety.

  • Is Cheese Addictive? Only If You Eat It

    CheeseThe definitive answer to the title question is an emphatic, "Maybe." Why?  It depends upon whom you ask.  It depends upon your definition of addicted.  It even depends on the type of cheese you're continuously munching on. 

     

    This obscure question was brought to my attention by my daughter, who regularly sends me newsworthy links to topics she thinks I should cover on Shelf Life Advice. This time, she sent me a Discovery Channel online article by Alice Truong, who talks about casomorphins, which, as you might surmise from the last two syllables, are related to the addictive painkiller.  Here's what Truong says, "The primary protein in milk is casein. When the human body digests casein, it produces casomorphins, which have an opiate effect on humans.  Because cheese is denser than, for example, milk, the casein is more heavily concentrated, meaning that eating cheese produces a larger amount of casomorphins in the body compared to eating other dairy products."

  • I Left It Out Too Long! Can I Still Eat It?

    cantaloupeFunny thing, but almost every question we get from our site members is a variation of the same question.  Optimists phrase it positively: “Can I still eat it?”  Pessimists ask, “Do I have to throw it out?”  In either case, it’s a query about food that has been kept too long in the “danger zone” (40°F-140°F), in other words, a perishable food that hasn’t been kept hot enough or cold enough to prevent bacterial growth. No one wants to discard food that cost a lot and/or took a long time to prepare.  So we did some research and asked two food scientists on the Shelf Life Advice Advisory Board to provide specific and general answers to “Is it really spoiled?” questions.

 
 

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