Refrigeration of Foods – Do’s and Don’ts
Refrigerator is one of the home appliances that has very closely entwined with us in our daily life. In these days, similar to a house without television, a house without refrigerator would be looked at with such astonishment. For the home makers it is such a simple task to save idly batter to any other food items in the fridge. But sometimes it will prove dangerous when surplus food item stored in cold condition is consumed after re-heating it for the next meal. Anita Balamurali, a nutritionist, explains about the type of food items that could be refrigerated and that should not be refrigerated.
Milk: It is better to utilize milk within a few hours after buying it. It can be stored for a maximum of one day. Those who wish to store it for longer period can refrigerate it. But it should be used within a few days.
Butter: It contains more fat and less water content. It will get spoilt within a few days if it is kept in a bright light condition or in a ventilated area. Therefore those who intend to store it for longer period can keep it in the fridge.
Cheese: If it should be kept unspoiled then it should be strictly kept under refrigeration. Some may refrigerate it in a plastic bag, with air tight condition. But in order to prolong its shelf life it is better to store it in smaller containers with some ventilation within.
Meat: Any food product that is stored for longer period in a refrigerated condition will lose its nature and quality, especially the meat varieties. Uncooked meat can be refrigerated for one or two days and cooked items can be stored for three days. Beyond that period it will lose its nature. When it is taken out its surface would have become harder. It can only be used after reheating it. There will be more bacterial growth on the meat. Therefore it is better to have a separate chambers allotted for meat storage in the fridge.
Curd: It requires more than two hours to ferment after inoculation. It’s better to keep it outside till it ferments. At higher room temperature it will get spoilt. So, it can
be refrigerated as soon as it gets fermented. It is better to use it as early as possible.
Drugs and tablets: Each medicine, be it a drug or syrup, there will be storage instruction given along with it. Medicines like insulin should be kept only in cold condition. Refrigerate only those products that are recommended to be refrigerated.
Dry fruits: The shelf life of dry grapes, dates, figs and almond is longer than months. These can be kept unspoiled however the storage condition is. Those who wish to keep them fresh can store them in the fridge.
Coriander and curry leaves: Clean both of them and wrap them in a piece of paper. Then tie them with a piece of turmeric. If they are stored as recommended they will remain unspoiled for more than a week.
Greens: Greens are similar to curry leaves and coriander. In many houses, a bunch of greens will be split into two instead of using the whole bunch. There is a chance for bacterial contamination if they are used after a few days. Refrigeration will prevent it. Therefore surplus greens can be cleaned, wrapped in a piece of paper along with a piece of turmeric so that it will remain fresh. It is better to utilize it within two days.
Lemon, orange: If citrus fruits are kept in a cold and dark place their shelf life will be longer. All type of fruits can be stored so, including lemon, grapes, and oranges. Lemon can be kept in an open space in the fridge instead of tightly packing it. And it should be kept out under room temperature one hour before using it for cooking.
Carrot: There is a chance for carrots to get spoilt within a few days if kept under room temperature. But it can be prevented from being rapidly spoilt by refrigeration. They should be kept outside with adequate ventilation for one or two days and then can be refrigerated.
Spring onions: It has more moisture content among all onion varieties. Therefore it should not be kept outside for more than two days. They can be stored afresh for a few weeks if they are tied together and refrigerated.
Fridge is an appliance that facilitates longer shelf life of a food item. But it is a wrong practice if the food items are stored under refrigeration for a longer duration and also using them after a prolonged storage period.
Whatever the food item, it will lose its nature after a specific period. There is no need to refrigerate honey, jam, nuts, cut fruits, onion, ketch up and oils. If they are refrigerated they will lose their nutritive values. Latest models have defined chambers to store eggs, full fruits and vegetables separately in a refrigerator. There are also separate bags to store vegetables. In case of wrong usage of those facilities, food items can get spoilt due to temperature differences. One should remain cautious about those facts as these may invite untoward health implications.
(This article written by J Nivedha in Tamil has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)