LOS ANGELES, January 24, 2015— With a new year comes a refreshed outlook, a new perspective and, hopefully, a nice clean and organized kitchen. This is the perfect time to clean out your refrigerator, cupboards, spice cabinet and pantry.
For one, you want to prepare for upcoming food holidays starting with Super Bowl right through Father’s day in June, so its the perfect time to freshen up your spices and wipe down those shelves.
First, choose a day and dedicate it to clearing out the clutter that lurks on your shelves. Taking stock of your ingredients each January is a great way to take inventory, spark new recipe ideas and keep you family safe from food poisoning.
Tips on when to keep and when to toss
- Opened condiments (ketchup, mayo, mustard, etc.): 6 months
- Jarred Items (red peppers in oil, olives, pickles, artichoke hearts): 1-2 weeks
- Cooked Meats: 4 days max
- Raw meats: 3-6 days
- Raw Fish: 2-3 days
- Cooked Fish: 2 Days
- Sliced Lunch Meat: 3-4 days
- Cooked, Hard-boiled Eggs: 4 days
- Raw Eggs: 2 weeks
- Raw Vegetables: Around 10 days
- Cooked Vegetables: up to 4 days
- Lettuces: 4-5 days
- Cooked Foods: 3-4 Days
- Butter: 4-6 months
- (Frozen foods: 3-6 month)
Did you know after a year your spices start to lose flavor and pretty soon after that they won’t have any flavor at all? Things like cumin, turmeric and cayenne take longer to lose their flavor but eventually they too will lose the kick as they had when you first bought them.
January is a good time to start anew.
Open food in the Refrigerator
- Never leave food in an open can in the refrigerator.
- Check the date and if it is more than a few weeks past, throw it out.
- If there is no date on the can reopen the opened container and look for-
- Bad odor
- Or discoloration
- If none of these appear than taste it. If it still tastes good than it is probably still ok.
Finally, commit to labeling your food. It may seem time-consuming at first, but it really will help you maintain good health. In restaurants, all kitchen staff are trained to take a roll of masking tape and a marker every time they go into the walk-in refrigerator.
Make a note of what is inside the container, the date it was made and then the date it should be discarded. That way, no matter who’s cooking, everyone knows exactly what’s going on in the refrigerator.
For more great cooking tips, recipes and stories from Chef Mary, visit her www.cookingwithmary.blogspot.com. To learn more about Chef Mary, check out her Hail Mary’s, Inc. Web site www.marypaynemoran.com. E-mail questions for Ask Chef Mary Fridays to [email protected] or click the Ask Chef Mary link above.
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