Spoilage of food, whether cooked or uncooked, is a common problem during the monsoon. Blame it on microbial growth or the moisture in the atmosphere, but there is no escape. Therefore, it’s important that you take proper precautions so as to ensure that the food in your home stays fresh and doesn't become home to disease-causing bacteria or micro-organisms.
However, note that the longer you store certain foods, especially cooked foods, they tend to lose their actual nutritional value, and at times there can also be a dip in taste and flavour. Not to forget that, storing perishable food items for a long period of time is known to increase the bacteria count, giving rising to health problems such as food poisoning, on consumption. It’s best to avoid cooking and buying things in excess to prevent spoilage.
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Meanwhile, here are smart ways to help you master the art of storing food items the right way:
Dry snacks such as biscuits, cookies and chips tend to turn soggy when not stored properly especially during monsoon. Be a step ahead by making sure you wrap them in newspapers or blotting paper and keeping them aside. You could instead also store them in dry, glass air-tight containers for better protection. Certain open packets of chips and biscuits can also be stored in the refrigerator. Let them get to room temperature before consuming or if possible, you could always reach for the microwave.
Bread and Chapatis
While it’s advisable to opt for smaller packets so that you finish them on the very same day, but in case you have leftover bread slices, wrap them in paper before storing in the refrigerator. Just to be sure, you could also slightly toast them with or without some butter or ghee before refrigerating. Don’t let the bread sit outside overnight as it’s sure to turn stale during this season. To store chapattis, transfer them into to a silver foil or paper bags before placing into the refrigerator. It’s best to use some oil or ghee while roasting your chapattis or parathas as this prevents them from turning rancid and keeping them edible even after two days of being in the refrigerator.
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To prevent rotting of veggies, make sure you’ve wiped them well to get rid of any moisture, before wrapping them in paper. The paper will help absorb excess moisture, if any. In case of cooked veggies, transfer to a container with a lid and you could then refrigerate it for up to two days. In case of gravies with mushrooms or paneer, it’s best to consume them the very same day.
Grains and Lentils
It is quite common to find worms feeding on your stock of grains during this season. To prevent that from happening, make sure you sun-dry or at least air them under the fan once a week. Before transferring them into an air-tight container, you could microwave them for a few seconds and when cool seal the container. Placing camphor tablets wrapped in paper or cloth inside the jars could also help you a long way. The best way to store lentils and pulses is by coating them in some mustard or castor oil before storing in an air-tight container. However, don’t go berserk with the oil and stop when you can see the seeds shine.
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Curries and Dals
If you plan on keeping them out for some time, make sure to cover them with a lid and stir every two to three hours so as to prevent the growth of any bacteria. However, make sure to place them in a refrigerator if you plan on using them later. If you plan on consuming the dal or curry after three to four days, you should instead be turning to the freezer for help. It's best to avoid putting cooked dals and curries through varying temperatures i.e. in and out from the freezer to help them stay fresh for a long time. When you are up for some dal or curry, only take out the portion you need and heat well before serving.
To prevent fungal growth, spices too call for sun-drying. As you may not get to see much of the sun during this season, you could instead make do with a pan or microwave before transferring into air-tight glass containers. In the case of chilli powder, a few cloves in the glass container could do the trick. For other dry spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, cumin seeds and pepper, a few bay leaves are all you need to increase their shelf-life. Always make sure to use a completely dry spoon while taking out your spices. Don’t forget to keep all your ground masalas refrigerated at all times to avoid spoilage. To prevent sugar and salt from turning sticky, store them in glass jars and get rid of your plastic containers. You could add in some raw rice tied in a cloth to absorb any moisture that may have seeped in while opening and closing the jars.
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