Posts Tagged ‘food preservation’

Refrigerator temperature: What temperature should the freezer be set at?

January 2, 2012

Refrigerator temperatures come automatically set to factory recommendations, which are the proper refrigerator temperature of 37 degrees and the ideal freezer temperature of zero degrees.

These are generally the correct temperatures, but according to Whirlpool Corp., your freezer is set at the correct temperature when the ice cream is firm.

If the freezer is too warm or too cold, first check the air vents to make sure that nothing’s blocking circulation. Then adjust the temperature up or down one setting and allow a full 24 hours for the temperature to adjust.

One level is equal to about 1 degree of temperature, so remember: the higher the freezer temperature, the faster your frozen foods lose their quality. However, colder temperatures also could dry foods out, so try to keep the freezer at the recommended zero degrees.

>>Read more tips on proper frozen food storage

Today is the last day to safely eat Thanksgiving leftovers

November 28, 2011

Because leftovers only remain safe to eat for four days, you’re going to want to eat up all your turkey, stuffing and gravy by Monday.

(The importance of Thanksgiving leftovers as immortalized in pop culture by  Friends Moistmaker episode)

Ideally, you should freeze all leftovers as soon as possible, but if you throw the rest in freezer-safe bags or containers, it will be good to eat for another six months.

Actually, food technically remains safe to eat forever if it’s frozen, it just loses flavor and moisture.

The USDA wrote these guidelines for safely reheating stored leftovers:

  • When reheating leftovers, be sure they reach 165° F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food. Reheat sauces, soups and gravies by bringing them to a rolling boil. Cover leftovers to reheat. This retains moisture and ensures that food will heat all the way through.
  • Thaw frozen leftovers safely in the refrigerator, cold water or the microwave oven. When thawing leftovers in a microwave, continue to heat it until it reaches 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Any leftover “leftovers” thawed by the cold water method or in the microwave should be reheated to 165 °F before refreezing.
  • In a real hurry? It is safe to reheat frozen leftovers without thawing, either in a saucepan or microwave (in the case of a soup or stew) or in the oven or microwave (for example, casseroles and combination meals). Reheating will take longer than if the food is thawed first, but it is safe to do when time is short.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly never knew to reheat my sauces to a full boil…oops.
Make sure to occasionally stir foods when microwaving them, because foods won’t heat evenly (especially if you don’t have a turntable) and cold spots will develop in which bacteria hasn’t been properly killed.

Limited spots available for our upcoming canning class

September 6, 2011

Coming to a pantry near you. Actually, it could be your pantry, which is really nearby.

Warners’ Stellian Appliance has jumped on the homemaker-trend bandwagon by offering our very own canning class.

Partly inspired by our beautiful, functional kitchen vignettes and partly motivated by my desire to pickle, I managed to wrangle master food preserver Liz McMann of Mississippi Markets Co-op and blog Food Snobbery Is My Hobbery into teaching a small group how to can their own Dill Pickled Green Beans.

You’ll walk away with plenty of know-how for your own food preservation efforts, and most importantly, your own jar of beans. Plus, it’s only $10 — we provide everything.

Canning class: Dill Pickled Green Beans
Saturday, Sept. 24
1-2:30(ish) p.m.
Warners’ Stellian-St. Paul, 1711 N. Snelling Ave. (more location details)

Want in? RSVP to me (Julie) at jawarner at warnersstellian.com. Hurry! Spots are limited to 10.

Canning classes help you preserve the season, just like mom did

August 12, 2011

When I was growing up, we went strawberry and raspberry picking every season to make a freezer full of jelly to enjoy and give as gifts all year long. To this day, I can’t eat store-bought jelly, because my mom has ruined me on anything that doesn’t taste as fruity and fresh as her own stock.

Since moving out, I’ve missed the annual preservation tradition and wanted to learn the science for myself. Apparently, I’m not the only one.

The Star Tribune featured canning's "comeback" last week.

Homesteading is like, super trendy right now, so canning has enjoyed quite the resurgence in the past couple years. Some people have taken it up to continue local, sustainable eating into the colder months; some out of a misguided attempt to save money (it ain’t cheaper). But many just want to make something absolutely delicious.

The Star Tribune published a list of upcoming canning classes, for both newbies and those looking to brush up their skills.

Warners’ Stellian is also planning to host a canning class at our St. Paul store in September, in cooperation with the Mississippi Market Co-op and one of my favorite bloggers and Master Food Preserver, Liz McMann, of Food Snobbery Is My Hobbery.

Stay tuned for details, or email me at jawarner at warnersstellian.com for more info. Feel free to let me know if there’s anything else you’d like us to do. Otherwise, I’ll just keep creating events to satisfy selfish curiosities :)

5 ways to preserve food longer

May 12, 2011

With the opening of the Mill City Farmers Market last weekend and the start of many people’s summer CSA shares, the perennial topic of food storage becomes fresh again (see how I did that?).

Numerous ways to extend the life of fresh fruit, veggies, meat and dairy exist, but here are the 5 I could think of.

What do you do to try to make your food last longer?

1. Use your crisper

Those clear drawers in your fridge aren’t just for convenience. Many models allow you adjust the humidity of your crisper drawers to suit their contents. Consult your use & care manual for specifics on your model, but in general, set humidity to high for green, leafy vegetables and low for fruits and vegetables with skins.

2. Pick your spot

Brands might create the perfect space for gallon-jug storage on your refrigerator door, but consider how quickly you will use highly perishable foods before storing them here. Why? Consider the temperature fluctuations of this region of the refrigerator.

If you go through a gallon of milk every couple days, then maybe it doesn’t matter, but those of use who just use a sprinkle in our coffee should definitely select a cooler spot, like the back of the fridge, which is less affected when the door opens.

Accordingly, produce like broccoli, asparagus and apples benefit from colder temperatures located near the rear, while corn and berries — for example — benefit from the warmest spot in the refrigerator, so choose those for the front.

3. Use a paper towel to keep your greens…green

I love making big salads, but we all know that greens (especially leftovers) quickly become yellows and browns.

I arrange washed greens between paper towels to absorb excess moisture and seal them in punctured plastic bags. I’m not sure how “official” this is, but it’s allowed me to eat salad leftovers for two days before.

4. Don’t pass gas

Ethylene gas, that is. Foods like apples, peaches and pears produce ethylene, a gas that kick-starts ripening, which can cause premature aging in some fruits and damage in others. Avoid storing ethylene-producing foods near others sensitive to it (see list here) or keep them in a plastic bag to contain the gas.

5. Know what NOT to refrigerate

Sometimes the refrigerator can do more harm than good — as in the case of avocados, bananas, tomatoes, pineapples, mangoes, potatoes and squash — which should be stored at room temperature. Cold temperatures can dehydrate and damage these foods.

Plus, I think that refrigerating tomatoes sucks all the flavor out, doesn’t it?

Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer refrigerator drawers

January 28, 2011

Don’t get me wrong. I love my full-size, bottom-freezer refrigerator. But occasionally, my freezer runs out of space while my fresh food compartment maintains plenty and my eyes wander to the grass on the other side…

Recently I’ve been thinking, why can’t my fridge be more adaptable?

I had a very educational conversation with the produce manager of a local grocery last weekend about fresh basil preservation. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to refrigerate it! (Also, those of us in cold temperatures should take special care when transporting fresh basil home, as our subzero air can turn the delicious leaves black.) It should be kept in a cool (50-some degrees) spot.

That’s why I love these multitemperature refrigerated drawers.

Now you see it.

Now you don't.

The Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer (RB36S25MKIW1) lets you choose freezer, chill, fridge, pantry or wine at the touch of a button so that everything from fresh food to frozen meat to fine wine can be stored at the correct temperature.
So, if you buy a lot of produce one week you have extra fridge space.

Refrigerator (37°F)

Or if a family member comes home with a record catch of fish and the freezer’s full, voila.

Freezer (0°F) (Deep Freezer -13 °F)

If you want to keep it a little colder than the stuff you keep in your fridge, you can do that too.

Chill (31°F)

And if you plunk down more than you’d like for fresh basil and don’t want to see any of it go to waste (or pesto), you’ll love the pantry function.

Pantry (53.5°F)

Having a party? Store your wine and then chill it to precise serving temperature.

Wine (53.5°F for long-term storage, 44.5°F for white wine serving and 59°F for red wine)

And at 36″ wide, the Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawers keep everything in easy, ergonomic reach while being deep enough to fit wine bottles and 2-liter bottles, as shown above.

The spill-proof storage bins can come out or be moved around to do just about anything you need it to.

I'm imagining a Thanksgiving turkey, thawing at the recommended 40 degrees, not crowding my refrigerator for four days.

If you want to see it, we display it at our St. Paul store, our Apple Valley store, our Woodbury store and our Edina store.

And, for being so curious, you will be rewarded with free assorted ice cream treats when you open the drawer.

How sweet is that?

Power out refrigerator tips: What to do when the electricity goes out

January 5, 2011

Rule No. 1: Don't open your refrigerator or freezer.

Here in Minnesota, we generally suffer a few power outages each winter season. But when the power goes out, your refrigerator is not cooling. So what should you do with all your food?

1. Call the power company
Find out how long the power will be out.

2. If the power outage is less than 24 hours:
Keep the doors shut on both the refrigerator and freezer compartments to keep food cold or frozen. If you’re experiencing a refrigerator power outage for more than 2 hours, you might want to pack dairy and meats into coolers (Styrofoam is fine) filled with ice, says the CDC.

3. If the power will be out for more than 24 hours:
Add 2 lbs of dry ice in the freezer for every cubic foot of freezer space, which will keep the food frozen for two to four days, according to appliance-maker Whirlpool Corp. Otherwise, you’re going to have to eat all that perishable food. Or try canning the food, if you know how.

Thought it seems counter intuitive, a full freezer stays cold longer than a partially filled one and a freezer full of meat stays cold longer than a freezer full of baked goods. A half-full freezer will keep food safe for 24 hours, and a full freezer will keep food safe for 48 hours, according to the CDC.

If food contains ice crystals, you can refreeze it, although the quality and flavor may be affected. Test meats to ensure the temperature hasn’t risen to 40 degrees. Use your gut. If it looks like it’s in rough shape, toss it.

Refrigerator temperature: What temperature should a refrigerator be set at?

August 6, 2010

Flickr photo credit: olibac

Your refrigerator likely comes set at the factory-recommended temperature, probably a “mid-setting,” but what is that?

If you set the temperature too low, your food will freeze. Set it too high, however, and your food will spoil quicker due to increased bacterial growth.

The recommended temperature for your refrigerator ranges from 35 degrees to 38 degrees.

I keep my refrigerator at 37 degrees and try to keep it stocked well with food, because — believe it or not — a fully stocked fridge holds its temperature better than one with a couple condiment bottles in the door.

But the best test for your refrigerator’s temperature is a beverage. If you don’t like the temperature of your beverage, adjust the fridge. If you think your refrigerator is too cold, increase the temperature by 1 degree and allow 24 hours for the compartment to adjust. Obviously, do the opposite if you think your refrigerator is too warm.

To ensure proper temperatures, air has to be able to flow between the refrigerator and freezer sections.

As shown in the super sweet illustration, cool air from the refrigerator enters through the bottom of the freezer section and moves upward. Most of the air then flows through the freezer section vents and recirculates under the freezer floor. The rest of the air enters the refrigerator section through the top vent and flows down the back of the refrigerator compartment.

Make sure the air vents aren’t blocked by some errant food thing. Otherwise, it might block the flow of air to the refrigerator, which in turn causes temperature and moisture problems and melty ice cream, etc.

Also (word to the wise), last time my refrigerator was too warm — and I had cranked it up to the coldest setting — I (my dad) finally popped off my kick-plate to find a veritable lint blanket.

Lesson: if your refrigerator can’t exhaust properly, it can’t cool properly. So, vacuum the condenser every three months!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 87 other followers