5 common foods that you're probably storing incorrectly...

Posted: 28th May 2019

How you store your food can have a big impact on whether it maintains both flavour and nutrition, it's been found

However, there's another benefit that makes food storage an important issue to consider - it could also help to cut the amount of food waste we produce, which is especially crucial at a time when more than 7 million tonnes are getting chucked each year.

There's no denying that sometimes, it can be tricky knowing what food should go where, and whether or not it should be stored away from other products. For instance, tomatoes are sensitive to the plant hormones that avocados give off, so need to be kept away from them.

To give you a helping hand, Food Safety & Nutrition Consultant, Barbara Bray and Director Regulatory & Technical Affairs of California Walnuts, Carl Eidsath, are on hand with their storage hacks for our favourite health foods...

1. Walnuts

Do you store your walnut kernels in a cupboard? If so, you shouldn’t!

Instead, place them in either their original packaging or an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. They can last for up to 6 months when stored in the fridge (2°C-5°C) and up to 12 months in the freezer. In comparison, keeping them in a kitchen cupboard can lead to a reduced shelf-life and also taints the flavour.

2. Eggs

When storing eggs to maintain freshness and quality, you want them at a constant temperature that's below 20°C – for instance, the fridge. They aren't refrigerated in the supermarket as the temperature stays relatively stable there - it's only when you get them home that it fluctuates.

Place them in the fridge in their original packaging – this helps them avoid picking up odours from other foods. If you do take them out of the box, make sure they're used in date order, and then, when it's time to cook them, get them out around 30 minutes prior to cooking, as sudden temperature changes can cracks the shells, or reduce the binding quality when baking.

3. Tomatoes

You'll find the flavour and quality of tomatoes really comes out at room temperature. Once you get them home, take them out of the plastic wrapper or packaging, and add them to the fruit basket. These are normally sensitive to the plant hormone bananas and avocados give off, so ensure they’re kept apart. As a sub-tropical fruit, tomatoes really don't like the cold - subsequently, after being picked, they continue to ripen, and will soften more swiftly after being refrigerated.

4. Potatoes

Correctly storing potatoes is crucial for both nutrition and safety. If they're kept in the light, potatoes can start turning green, which indicates there are plant toxins present - these can be harmful if consumed.

The green is typically only on the skin, so is easy to peel off before cooking. When it comes to storage, you want to use hessian or brown paper bags in a cool, airy place, to keep them in good condition. While they need to be kept cool, refrigeration isn’t ideal as the low temperature limits the level of healthy starch over time, as sugars develop. It's not a health issue, but it is better to maintain good levels of resistant starch in potatoes, as it's beneficial to gut health.

5. Dark chocolate

A small amount of dark chocolate helps you boost antioxidant levels. However, if you buy a large bar, it needs to be stored in a cool dry place to ensure if doesn't go stale before it's finished. Refrigeration is not quite so beneficial for the quality of chocolate, as it can lead to fat bloom - while it isn't actually harmful, it does somewhat spoil the appearance! Store yours in an airtight container instead, without having any strong-smelling item (for instance, spices) - otherwise, the chocolate can start to pick up the flavour.