Pantry or Fridge?

So you’ve gone to the effort to fill your kitchen with healthy foods and products but if you don’t store it properly then foods can quickly lose their nutritional value and you won’t be getting as many health benefits as you had hoped!

Here’s a guide to know what to store where:

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Fruits: Fruits that spoil quickly like berries and grapes should be kept in the fridge and don’t wash until serving. Other fruits like bananas, melons, citrus and avocado can be stored on the fruit bowl on the kitchen bench. Then we have fruits like pineapple, kiwi, apples, pears, oranges etc. that can be stored in the fruit bowl on the kitchen bench or in the fridge (it’s your preference really). Once cut open, all fruits should be stored in the fridge (or freezer). If you buy a fruit that is ripe but you’re not wanting to use it straight away, eg. avocado or pear then you can store it in the fridge to slow further ripening. Ripe bananas are best peeled and stored in the freezer. In the fridge, store fruit separate from vegetables as they emit much more ethylene so can ripen vegetables faster than desired (unless you have fruit or vegetables that you want to ripen quicker, then do store them next to fruit like apples and bananas).  

Vegetables: Onions, garlic, shallots, potato, sweet potato, whole pumpkin and tomatoes are best kept in a cool dry place like the pantry or a back corner on the kitchen bench. Leave the dirt on if your potatoes come dirty, only washing when wanting to use. Once cut open, these should be stored in the fridge (or freezer). All other vegetables are best stored in the fridge. There are organic cotton/mesh bags now available that are perfect to use when shopping buy are also breathable to you can keep produce in them in the fridge to keep fresher for longer.

Nuts and seeds: This one depends on how soon you are going to use them up. If you buy whole nuts and you will use them up within a couple of weeks then they are okay stored in an airtight container in the pantry. Same goes for nut butters (they spread more easily when at room temperature too). However if you won’t use them up within 2-3 weeks then they are best stored in the fridge. Any nuts or seeds that have been ground (eg almond meal, flaxseed meal or LSA) should be stored in the fridge as this exposes them to more oxidation and they can go rancid quicker. A better option is to grind these meals yourself when you need them (I use a thermomix to do this, but many high speed blenders/food processors will also do the trick).

Bread: Bread can be kept on the kitchen bench for 2-3 days after purchase and is best kept in a bread container or bag. After this, slice and place in an airtight container in the freezer.

Flours: Like nuts, it’s best to buy flour fresh and use within a few weeks in which case it can be stored in the pantry. If you have a flour that hasn’t been used in that time, move it to the fridge to prolong it’s shelf life.

Spices: These are best kept away from any direct sunlight and heat from cooking so avoid storing them next to your cook top (as convenient as that might be). In a drawer, on a pantry shelf or as mine are, on spice racks on the back of the pantry door are good spots. Whole spices last longer than crushed or ground spices so if you have some ground mixed spice that hasn’t been touched in 6 months or more, consider replacing it!

Herbs: Woody herbs like thyme and rosemary should be stored dry in the fridge. Basil and mint can be stored on the bench top in a glass of water. Coriander, parsley, chives and oregano can be stored wrapped in damp paper towel in the fridge or in a glass jar of water (some say to put plastic bags over the top which is a good way to re-use plastic bags if you have them but I tend not to have them in my house anymore thanks so my plastic free shopping bags so I just leave as is and find it works well). If you don’t already know, herbs are a nutrition powerhouse so you should be adding them in your meals at any opportunity you get which means they won’t have a chance to start wilting or spoiling!

Extra virgin olive oil: This is best kept in a cool dark place like the pantry so again, avoid keeping it next to your stove top or oven. It is also best used within 4-6 weeks after opening so try to buy smaller bottles (make sure they dark glass) and purchase more regularly as opposed to buying the really large tins and having them last months or years.

Protein powders: If your protein powder contains any digestive enzymes (good quality ones will because they aid the digestion of protein isolates), then it must be kept in the fridge so that the enzymes remain active.

Chocolate: Chocolate can be known to ‘bloom’ which is where the fat separates and we get a white/grainy appearance and texture. Changes in temperature can cause this as chocolate doesn’t like too hot or too cold temperatures. Therefore it is best stored in an airtight container in a dark cool place like the the pantry (although many will argue they prefer it in the fridge, let’s just say as long as it’s easily accessible it’s fine :P). Note: in Summer if you get a really hot day you may get chocolate that blooms, don’t worry it is still edible it just doesn’t look as pretty!