Featured Content

  • What Does the Word “Foodie” Mean? It Depends Who(m) You Ask

    Fancy FoodWhat (or who) is a “foodie”? Is it a compliment or an insult to be called a foodie? Is it a real word with its own unique meaning or just a synonym for “gourmet”? These are some of the profound philosophical questions Shelf Life Advice is about to take up, so don your thinking caps and alert your appetite. This site about to consult the experts—dictionaries, food websites, scientists, and the average person (best example: myself) to learn about the origin, denotations, and connotations of this ubiquitous word.

  • 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.

  • What will global warming do to our food supply?

    ProduceGlobal warming brings  many changes, which, in turn, brings many significant, unwanted alterations worldwide.  Does global warming concern you? Perhaps you worry about a catastrophic weather condition destroying your home or an insect bite infecting a family member.

  • “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."

  • 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."

 
 

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