Considering how much time and effort you spend shopping for, and preparing food each week, the last thing you want to do is let it go to waste. The pantry vs fridge debate is one that comes up frequently, and still, there are certain foods many of us are still unsure about. Where does peanut butter go? How long do spices last? What about protein powders? (Yep, we’ll get to that!). Not only can the improper storage of food expose ourselves to harmful bacteria, nutritionist Steph Geddes, explains that it can also result in the loss of nutritional value. “You want to make sure you store it properly so you can get maximum health benefits when consumed,” Steph tells Amodrn. Want to learn more? Read on as Steph takes us through some of the most common culprits and what you can do about it.
Fruit and vegetables:
“Vegetables that spoil or wilt quickly should be stored in the fridge such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, beans and cabbage, however, your more hearty/starchy vegetables can be kept in the pantry such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and whole pumpkin.” Steph says that when it comes to fruit, you want to also keep items that can spoil quickly in the fridge such as berries and grapes and save things like banana, melons and citruses for the kitchen bench. “Fruits like apples, pears and oranges can be kept in or out of the fridge, but if kept in the fridge, store away from vegetables as fruits emit much more ethylene which can ripen vegetables faster than desired.” “If you have a fruit that usually is kept out of the fridge but is very ripe and you’re not ready to use it yet (ie, avocado/pear), keep it in the fridge to slow the ripening process. Once you have cut open any fruit or vegetable and have some left over, keep it in the fridge.”
Nuts and nut butter
“Nuts and nut products can go rancid quickly, especially once ground as there is more exposure to oxygen, meaning oxidation can happen more quickly,” says Steph. “However, where you keep them really depends on how quickly you are going to use them up. If you only buy a small amount of whole nuts and you will eat them within a couple of weeks, then storing them in an airtight container in the pantry is okay. However, if you won’t consume them that quickly then you can keep them in the fridge.” Steph adds that ground nuts and seeds should always be kept in the fridge because they are prone to oxidation. These include almond meal, ground flax seeds and LSA.
According to Steph, the safest bet with the majority of condiments is to keep them in the fridge as you may not get through these products fast enough and this will work to maximize their shelf-life.
Extra virgin olive oil
“Extra virgin olive oil should always be kept in a cool dark place, like the pantry, and ideally should be consumed within 4-6 weeks after opening. Therefore you are better to buy smaller bottles more regularly as opposed to the huge tins of oil which may take months and months to use up.”
This may be a surprising one as many people would just keep protein powders in their pantry, but protein powders that contain ‘digestive enzymes’ should, in fact, be kept in the fridge. Steph explains the reason behind this is digestive enzymes will become inactive in warmer temperature and these are needed to help digest protein isolates.
Steph explains that spices are best stored away from any direct sunlight and heat from cooking (so avoid storing them next to your cooktop, as convenient as that may be). “In a drawer, on a pantry shelf or as mine are, on spice racks on the back of the pantry door are good spots. Whole spices last longer than crushed or ground spices so if you have some ground mixed spice that hasn’t been touched in 6 months or more, consider replacing it!”
“Woody herbs like thyme and rosemary should be stored dry in the fridge. Basil and mint can be stored on the bench top in a glass of water. Coriander, parsley, chives and oregano can be stored wrapped in damp paper towel in the fridge or in a glass jar of water.” For more from Steph, visit www.bodygoodfood.com.au and follow @nutritionist_stephgeddes.