How to store
How to store meat, bread and cheese
How to store... in general
When it comes to storage, different foods have different rules but there are a couple of basics which can be applied to everything so best to consider these before unpacking your goodies:
1. Make sure your fridge is running between 1-4C.
2. Don't overfill your fridge, otherwise it won't maintain the correct temperature.
How to store... cheese
1. Keep cheeses looking and tasting better by wrapping them in waxed kitchen paper.
2. Place cut pieces of cheese in a plastic container with a tightly fitting lid, having first spread a lightly dampened tea towel or cloth on the bottom. Don't put blue cheeses in the same box as other cheeses; they should be kept separate to prevent the blue moulds spreading. Before closing the box, pop in a few sugar cubes which will act as natural preservatives, preventing the growth of moulds and holding back oxidization, as well as distributing the humidity in the sealed box and preventing bacteria growing in the confined atmosphere.
You'll be amazed how fresh the cheese remains. Some harder cheeses will be fine for up to three weeks although softer varieties will only last up to one week.
3. To serve, unwrap the pieces and place on a wooden board, then cover with a clean damp cloth and leave to come to room temperature (30-60 minutes depending on how warm or cool the room)
How to store... fresh meat
Taking the time to choose a quality cut of meat from your local butcher is often a labour of love so it's important to make sure it stays in mint condition before cooking. Here are some tips:
1. Store meat at the bottom of the fridge. Not only does this reduce the risk of cross contamination, but it's the coldest part too.
2. If meat is in plastic, unwrap it when you get it home as plastic can speed the proliferation of bacteria. If you've got space in the fridge, it should be fine on a plate at the bottom - not touching any other foods. If not, place meat on top of some kitchen paper in a clean, sealed, plastic container.
Rough storage times:
- Sausages: 2 days
- Mince: 2 days
- Diced meat: 2 days
- Chicken pieces: 2 days
- Whole chicken: 2-3 days
- Steaks: 2-3 days
- Roasts (boned and rolled): 2-3 days
- Roasts (bone in): 3-4 days
- Bacon (raw): 5 days
- Sliced cooked ham: 2-3 days
- Cured meats (ready to eat): 1 week
1. Freeze in meal-size portions so you only need to defrost the amount you need. Use good quality, strong plastic bags to protect meat but wrap tightly in cling film and then place in a bag, as it's not always possible to expel all of the air and the cling film helps prevent freezer burn.
2. Frozen meat should ideally be eaten within a month, three at the most.
3. Each package should be labelled with the name of cut, weight or amount and date of packaging.
4. It takes a bit of planning but the best way to thaw frozen meat is in the fridge. Time for a large roast is about 4 to 7 hours per 500g. A smaller roast like a rack of lamb will take about 3 to 5 hours per 500g. Steaks (about 3cm thick) will take about 12 hours or overnight.
How to store... bread
1. Keep your bread at room temperature, out of direct sunlight and in a cool dry place - keeping it in the fridge draws out the moisture which makes it go staler faster.
2. Artisanal bread is best stored in a paper bag which keeps the bread wrapped up without creating any pesky moisture which can lead to mould - for this reason, avoid wrapping it in plastic bags. In the absence of a paper bag, use a clean, loosely- wrapped tea towel.
3. Protect the cut end of a loaf with foil to stop it going hard (even if you're being good and storing it in a paper bag too).
4. Make friends with your bread bin; they're made for this purpose after all!
5. Avoid keeping different loaves in the same bag; if one loaf goes mouldy it will contaminate the others faster.
6. If you struggle to get through a whole loaf, slice and freeze it in a sealed, labelled freezer bag as soon as you receive it – that way you’ll just need to pop slices in the toaster as and when you need them.