Thursday, September 18, 2008

Preppin' 101 - Simple Food Storage Items - Part One

There are many common food items and condiments that have long shelf lives and can be an important part of your food storage program. They require little more than a cool, dry place and an airtight container to maintain their usefulness for a long period of time. Avoiding exposure to sunlight will also help to maintain the shelf life of these food items.

1.) Salt has an almost indefinite shelf life with proper storage.

Salt is very stable in its most commonly used form. Salt crystals do not become stale and its almost indefinite shelf life is usually limited only by the lumping of salt due to exposure to moisture. Proper storage conditions with low humidity are helpful in prolonging the life of salt. It comes in many forms, with equally long shelf lives, including sea salt, which has an increased mineral content and pickling salt, which is required in most canning recipes.

2.) Whole black pepper has a shelf life of almost 4 years with proper storage.

The best storage method for black pepper is to keep it in a dry place with very moderate temperatures. It will lose the quality of its flavor and should not be stored near any direct heat sources. Moisture will also cause lumping of ground black pepper. Black pepper can be protected against the loss of flavor and lumping due to moisture by keeping your containers tightly closed after each use. Ground black pepper has approximately half the shelf life of whole black pepper. Proper storage of black pepper can give a long shelf life and the only major effect of longer storage times being a negative impact on the flavor quality when used in your cooking. This problem can be solved by simply increasing recipe amounts until the desired taste is obtained. It simply requires more to achieve the same result.

3.) Sugar has an almost indefinite shelf life.

Sugar when properly stored in a cool, dry place has an almost indefinite shelf life. The reason for this is that sugar will not support the growth of microbes. It will suffer the same lumping effect due to exposure to excess moisture. Keeping it stored in an airtight and moisture proof container will eliminate these problems.

4.) Vinegar has an almost indefinite shelf life.

Vinegar (distilled,white variety) because it is acid in nature needs no refrigeration and will keep for an extended period of time with little change in quality or flavor. There may be some changes in other types of vinegars, such as apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. These changes usually include a degradation of color, developing a haze, or the presence of sediment. These are simply cosmetic changes and the vinegar can still be used in your cooking and recipes to good results. Note: Filtering may be required if sediment build-up is excessive.

Some simple storage rules are in order to maintain the quality and freshness of many everyday foods which have an indefinite shelf life.

1.) Avoid exposure to excessive sunlight which can adversely affect the temperature.

2.) Avoid exposure to excessive moisture which can lower quality.

3.) Avoid exposure to air which can cause flavor loss, among other things.

4.) Avoid exposure to temperature extremes which can degrade food quality.

Here’s a witty saying to help you remember some of the basics for a good food storage program:

Cool and dry, out of the light,
In a container that is air tight,
Will keep the taste just right!

More to come in Part Two.

Staying above the water line!



Marie said...

Wow--I didn't know about the shelf life of pepper. Also, when you are talking about vinegar, are you referring to white vinegar? If so, I have done some wasting in my time, because I didn't know it could keep indefinitely...great info!

riverwalker said...

To: marie

Yes it is the distilled white vinegar I was referring to - edited the post to eliminate the confusion - my bad!


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