How to Refrigerate Your Groceries for Fresher, Juicier and Longer-Lasting Produce

How to Refrigerate Your Groceries for Fresher, Juicier and Longer-Lasting Produce

Learn effective refrigeration methods to reduce food waste and keep your ingredients happy, safe and fresh

Nothing dampens a home-cook’s spirits more than opening their fridge just to find that their fresh herbs have gone limp and brown and their meats giving off strange odors. Whether you just rolled out of bed to get started on a Creamy Tangy Smashed Avocado on Toast breakfast or have been waiting all day to whip up that creamy Prawn and Pineapple Peranakan Curry for dinner, fresh ingredients are a must for any chef. Here are some quick tips and tricks on storing your plump, leafy or juicy ingredients to maximize their shelf life for better tasting dishes later on.

Vegetables

Pop open any modern fridge and chances are that you will find a vegetable drawer. These drawers (called crisper drawers) are designed to keep humidity levels higher so that your leafy greens don’t wilt. You can also wrap your lettuce, asparagus, bak choy and fresh herbs in a damp paper towel (a traditional Asian method is to do it in old newspaper), and zip them up in a ziplock to create a moist environment for maximum freshness. Just like flowers, leafy plants like parsley, cilantro and lettuce can also be placed in a jar of water or floral foam to keep them lively while in the fridge (if you have space!). This literally extends their shelf life by a week or even two if done immediately upon purchase.

Spiralising a zucchini in a Keto Kong Pao Chicken with Zucchini Noodles

As much as we love to maximize the use of space, don’t overfill your crisper drawer as your vibrant veggies need to breathe! A crisper drawer should ideally be around two-thirds full. For hardier vegetables like zucchini or tomatoes, you can leave them out for a few days in a cool, shady spot in the kitchen, especially if you’re going to use them for a nice spot of Zucchini Noodles with Homemade Tomato Sauce or  Korean Bibimbap soon. Protect them from hungry flies and prevent sweating (especially in hot and humid southeast Asian weather) by using a covered netting and not plastic bags.

Fruits

 

Fruits and vegetables may make for perfect pairing in your Healthy Fruit Salad or Aceh Fruit Salad (Rujak Aceh), but when storing, you usually want them far apart. Why? Fruits like apples, pears, melons and peaches emit ethylene gas, which causes everything to ripen faster, especially ethylene-sensitive vegetables like green beans, cabbage and broccoli. It works wonders when you need certain fruits or vegetables to ripen faster (placing unripe avocadoes with bananas for a day or two is a handy tip to ripen them really fast), but for long term storage, you want to reduce the amount of ethylene gas circulating among your sensitive fruits and veggies.

When storing fragile fruits like blueberries and strawberries in the fridge, place them separately from high ethylene emitting fruits, perhaps even together with your fresh herbs and veggies in the crisper drawer to prevent them from ripening too quickly. For cut fruits like melons or pears, store them in air-tight containers in the fridge. Here’s a quick tip to prevent cut apples, pears and avocadoes from browning: squeeze a touch of lemon or lime juice (any acidic juice works) on top before storing it.

Meats, Seafood and Eggs

 

Preparing a delicious Soy Fried Peppery Chicken (Ayam Goreng Kicap Lada Hitam) or Cheesy Bacon Beef Burgers this week? Chances are, you would want to move your meats in the from freezer to fridge the night before – it’s the safest way to thaw your meats. Place your meats and seafood in the chiller box to prevent cross-contamination with your other food. If you have an opened packaged of raw meat or seafood, seal it within an air-tight container or bag before storing it in the chiller box. Ideally, meats are not refrozen once thawed, as they lose texture and flavors from repeated freezing and thawing.

 

Eggs – raw, cooked, leftovers –  can also be stored in your fridge for a longer shelf life. Raw eggs kept in their original carton and placed in the main fridge compartment will lasts about a month in the fridge. You can also boil eggs in advance and store them up to a week for a healthy protein snack. Made Steamed Ginger Milk Pudding and have leftover egg yolks? Simply place them in an air-tight container in the fridge and you can use them for baking some Healthy Pineapple Tarts (Nastar Sehat) a maximum of 2 days later.

Soup, Staples and Sauces

Whether it’s Chinese Lotus Pork Rib Soup, Johor Laksa, Royal Pilau Nasi Ulam or Mushroom and Tempeh Rendang, we’ve all got some sort of leftover stored in the fridge (and sometimes forgotten until it’s too late). Ideally, soups, noodles, rice and sauces should be cooled to room temperature before being packed away in air-tight containers in the main fridge compartment. Store noodles like Beef Khao Soi (Beef Curry Noodles) and their gravy separately so that it doesn’t get soggy over the next few days. Handmade noodles or pasta can be stored 1-2 days in the fridge in a similar fashion or frozen for 2-3 months. It’s always good to portion out your soups, sauces or noodles before freezing so you don’t end up with a giant iced brick when you only want to use a bit of it at one go! 

As for rice, they keep for a day refrigerated in a covered container and leftover white rice is the perfect base for frying up some Yang Zhou Fried Rice or Indonesian Nasi Goreng.

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