by Eric Wharton
My Recipe Book, constantly being added to
|Put raw dairy products and meats toward the back of the refrigerator. Milk, eggs, and raw meats will spoil faster in the front because its less cool—the back is the coldest area inside the refrigerator. Butter is okay to keep in the front to keep it warmer so it’s easier to cut. Only keep items that are less susceptible to spoilage in the front.
A good rule of thumb: Keep cold thing cold and hot things hot. Don’t leave cooked food sit on the counter for hours before storing them away in the refrigerator. If you intend them to be cold, put them there as soon as possible. Bacteria begins to grow as soon as food cools down—cold temperatures slow their rate of growth. Also, refrigerate in several small containers rather than a large one. Bacteria may grow in the center because cold temperatures didn’t reach it soon enough.
Sometimes its difficult to keep track of how long jars or cans have sat in your refrigerator once they’ve been opened. Have a supply of tape and a marker on hand to label them once you’ve opened them.
1-5 days. Chicken, turkey, fish, and sausage have the shortest life, lasting only 1-2 days before used or frozen. Frozen they can last 1-2 months. Steaks, beef roasts, pork roasts, and chops can last 3-5 days refrigerated—pork 4-6 months frozen, steaks and beef 6-12 months frozen. However, ground beef and ground pork will only last 1-2 days refrigerated, 3-4 months frozen. Cooked bacon can last up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
3-5 weeks. A good way to test for egg freshness is to place them at the bottom of a pan and cover with water. If they lay flat, they are fine, if one end rises slightly, use immediately. If they stand on end, toss them out. If they float, why are you hoarding rotten eggs? Hard boiled eggs can last up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
2 months opened. Mayo is not susceptible to mold or bacteria growth, but the oils break down over time and the taste changes. Never freeze mayonnaise. Things made with mayonnaise last a considerably shorter time. Tuna or egg salad lasts only 3 days in the refrigerator.
1 week-5 months. Short shelf-life products include milk (1 week refrigerator, 3 months freezer), sour cream (1-3 weeks refrigerator, can’t be frozen), and yogurt (1-2 weeks refrigerator, 1-2 month freezer). Longer shelf-life products include butter (1-3 months refrigerator, 6-9 months freezer) and margarine (4-5 months refrigerator, 1 year freezer).
1 week-6 months. That’s a pretty wide range, but it has to so with the kind of cheese. Harder cheeses generally have longer shelf-life once they’re opened. Soft cheese, like Brie will last 3-4 weeks unopened, but opened will only last 1-2 weeks. Hard cheese like cheddar or swiss can last up to 6 months, but always check for mold before using. Shredded parmesan cheese will last only 1 month refrigerated, but it can be frozen for 3-4 months.
5 days opened. Tomato-based sauces can be dangerous once opened. They don’t last long before mold starts to form, and some of these molds produce toxins that no amount of cooking will kill. Its possible you won’t even see the mold, so always get rid of it after 5 days to be on the safe side.
Hot Dogs and Deli Meats
3 days-1 week (opened). Once opened, hot dogs last only a week, but they can be frozen. Frozen, they will last 1-2 months. Deli meat doesn’t last as long—only 3-5 days in the refrigerator, 1-2 months frozen.
1-2 weeks. Commercial breads will last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator but up to 3 months in the freezer. Whole-wheat breads have a shorter shelf-life than white bread, so should always be kept in the refrigerator. Even so, they will probably not last
the full 2 weeks.
3-4 days (generally). Most leftovers will last in the refrigerator this long— foods such as fish, meat, poultry, stuffing, and potatoes. Most will last 4-6 months frozen. Soups, stews, and fruit pies may only last 2 days refrigerated. Gravies, meat broths, meat sauces can last as few as 1-2 days, but up to 6 months in the freezer.
Jar and Canned Food
Shelf-life for opened items varies:
Olive oil & vegetable oil-4 months
Barbecue sauce-4 months
Ketchup or chili sauce-6 months
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