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Foods that should never be stored together


Foods that should never be stored together

Storing certain foods together can lead to faster spoilage, contamination, and even loss of flavour or texture…

PlumbNation, an expert in bathrooms and kitchens, has compiled a helpful list of five pairs of foods that should never be stored together, along with general advice for storing food to help maintain freshness and prevent cross-contamination.

A spokesperson from PlumbNation:

“Proper food storage can lead to significant savings and better health. One practical tip is to invest in airtight containers for items like nuts, grains, and seeds. These containers prevent pests and keep the food fresh longer, reducing the need for frequent replacements. This simple step can save money and ensure you always have nutritious ingredients on hand. Also, label your containers with the purchase date to help you keep track of freshness and use older items first, preventing unnecessary waste.

“Understanding how to store delicate items like berries can also make a big difference. Rinse berries only before eating to avoid excess moisture that can lead to mould. Store them in a single layer on a paper towel inside a container to keep them dry and fresh. This small effort can keep your berries from spoiling too quickly, ensuring you have healthy snacks available and reducing the need for costly replacements. Making these adjustments in your food storage routine can lead to both better health outcomes and financial savings.”

1. Onions and Potatoes

Onions and potatoes should be stored separately due to their unique ways of ageing and spoiling. Potatoes release moisture and gases as they age, which can cause onions to spoil more quickly, developing soft spots and mould. Additionally, onions have a strong odour that can permeate potatoes, potentially altering their flavour and making them less appetising.

Best Storage Practices:

  • Potatoes: Store in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated place, such as a pantry. A temperature range of 7-10°C (45-50°F) is ideal. Avoid storing them in the refrigerator as the cold temperature can convert the starches in potatoes to sugar, affecting their taste and texture.
  • Onions: Store in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area, away from potatoes. Onions prefer slightly warmer conditions than potatoes, around 13-18°C (55-65°F). Avoid storing onions in plastic bags as this can trap moisture and lead to mould growth.

2. Bananas and Other Fruits

Bananas release a significant amount of ethylene gas, a natural plant hormone that triggers the ripening process. When other fruits are exposed to this gas, they ripen—and subsequently spoil—much faster. This can lead to a waste of perfectly good fruit if they all ripen at once and can’t be consumed in time.

Best Storage Practices:

  • Bananas: Store at room temperature away from other fruits. If you have ripe bananas that you want to keep longer, you can refrigerate them. While the peel may turn brown, the fruit inside will remain fresh for a few more days.
  • Other Fruits: Store in a separate fruit bowl or the refrigerator, depending on the type of fruit. For instance, apples, pears, and peaches can be kept at room temperature until they ripen, then moved to the refrigerator to extend their freshness. Berries and grapes should be refrigerated immediately.

3. Tomatoes and Cucumbers

Tomatoes emit ethylene gas as they ripen. Cucumbers are highly sensitive to this gas, and exposure can cause them to become soft, yellow, and spoil quickly. This can compromise the crisp texture of cucumbers and make them less enjoyable to eat.

Best Storage Practices:

  • Tomatoes: Store at room temperature away from direct sunlight. Keeping them stem-side down can also help prolong their freshness. Once cut, tomatoes should be refrigerated to slow down the spoiling process.
  • Cucumbers: Store in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer, away from ethylene-producing fruits like tomatoes. Ideally, cucumbers should be kept at temperatures between 7-10°C (45-50°F). If they are stored at temperatures below 4°C (40°F) for too long, they can develop chilling injuries, which manifest as water-soaked spots and a shortened shelf life.

4. Apples and Oranges

Apples produce ethylene gas, which can cause oranges to develop a bitter taste and spoil faster. The gas can also make the orange peel tougher, reducing the fruit’s quality. This can lead to food waste and a less pleasant eating experience.

Best Storage Practices:

  • Apples: Store in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer or a cool, dry place. If you have a large quantity of apples, consider placing them in a single layer to prevent bruising. Apples can last several weeks when stored in a cool, humid environment.
  • Oranges: Store in a cool, dry place or the refrigerator, separate from apples. Oranges prefer slightly warmer storage temperatures than apples, around 4-7°C (40-45°F). Keeping them in a mesh bag can help maintain good air circulation and prevent mould growth.

5. Bread and Cheese

Bread can absorb moisture from the cheese, leading to sogginess and mould growth. Conversely, cheese can absorb odours and flavours from the bread, which may affect its taste. This can result in a less than desirable eating experience and potential food waste.

Best Storage Practices:

  • Bread: Store in a bread box or a cool, dry place. Bread should be kept in a breathable environment to prevent moisture buildup. If you need to keep it for an extended period, consider freezing it. Slices can be taken out as needed and toasted directly from the freezer.
  • Cheese: Store in the refrigerator, wrapped in wax paper or parchment paper, then placed in a plastic bag or airtight container to maintain its quality and prevent it from drying out. Hard cheeses can last for several weeks, while softer cheeses should be consumed within a few days of opening.

General Tips for Storing Food

  • Ethylene Gas Sensitivity: Be aware of which fruits and vegetables produce ethylene gas and which are sensitive to it. Store them separately to avoid premature ripening and spoilage. For example, avocados, peaches, and tomatoes produce ethylene, while leafy greens, berries, and peppers are sensitive to it.
  • Moisture Control: Keep moisture-sensitive foods in dry, well-ventilated areas. Use proper containers and wraps to control humidity levels. For instance, leafy greens should be stored in a container with a damp paper towel to maintain moisture without causing rot.
  • Temperature Management: Store foods at their recommended temperatures to maintain freshness. Room temperature is suitable for some items, while others may require refrigeration. For example, tropical fruits like bananas and pineapples should be kept at room temperature, while berries and grapes should be refrigerated.

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