Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner: How to store food properly in fridge and freezer

Once you’ve set your mind on the design and layout of your dream kitchen, it’s time to think about organisation and items needed for food storage – especially for festive seasons that call for family reunion dinners and gatherings with friends.

One of the most important appliances in your home, the fridge is your kitchen workhorse. So how do we ensure we make full use of our kitchens, refrigerators, and freezers?

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Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner: How to store food properly in fridge & freezer

How to store food properly in the kitchen?

Seasonings

Always keep your seasonings in a warm, dry place. Leave them close to the stove so it’s easier to reach when you want to season your dish. In a cold damp area, salt and sugar will clump together and solidify.

Fruit

Fruit can be kept outside of the fridge for about a week, and will brighten up your countertop. Be sure to store bananas out in the open as they turn brown in the cold.

Ripening apples tend to produce a lot of ethylene gas. Ethylene gas accelerates the ripening of many other types of produce, so it’s best to keep apples separately. 

Garlic

Storing garlic in a ventilated container keeps them dry and also prevents their smell from spreading in the kitchen.

Bread

Store bread in a bread bin to help keep insects and the humidity out.

Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner: How to store food properly in fridge & freezer

Potatoes and Onions

Bulb and root vegetables should be kept in a dry ventilated area. Potatoes and sweet potatoes should be kept in a shaded area to prevent them from sprouting.

Biscuits and Cereal

Prevent biscuits and cereal from turning soft by storing them in airtight containers.

Pasta

Use clear airtight containers to store spaghetti and macaroni for a fun way to dress up your countertop.

Herbs

Grow fresh herbs right off your table in small planters. To keep fresh herbs for longer, wrap a damp kitchen towel around the base of the stalk before storing in the fridge.

Rice

Want to keep the weevils away? Always keep your rice stored in an airtight bin, and in a cool, dark location. Another method would be to bury some unpeeled garlic cloves in the rice, but be sure to change them once every few days.

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How to store vegetables properly?

Vegetable drawers in your refrigerator does serve a purpose. The drawers shield your fruit and vegetables from direct contact with the source of cold air.

If fruit or vegetables get too cold, they might develop a freeze-burn and bruise easily. Store them in neat containers to keep your drawer organised and smelling fresh.

Fruit

Store fruit with thinner skin, such as grapes and apples, in the fridge to help them last longer.

Chilli

Plucking off chilli stalks help keep the chillies lasting longer by slowing down the ripening process.

Tomatoes

Place your cut tomatoes in an airtight container lined with paper towels. This will help absorb the excess moisture to keep the tomatoes looking fresher.

Leafy Vegetables

Wrap leafy greens lightly with a paper towel. They are more fragile, and paper towels prevent them from drying out, too.

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Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner: How to store food properly in the fridge and freezer

How to store food properly in the fridge?

Generally, there are three different sections to a fridge: chiller, freezer and vegetable drawer.

Other than keeping your fridge organised, it is important that you know which type of foods should be in each compartment so food is kept fresh longer. We break it down for you:

Honey and Jam

Storing honey in the fridge might harden the sweet spread, but it keeps it fresh. Don’t place honey outside because the live culture that gives it its nutritional properties and flavour won’t last as long.

Pasta Sauce

Always refrigerate after opening. Pasta sauce cannot be kept any longer than a week, as it will start to grow mould in the bottle.

Leftover Food

Leftover canned food and meals should always be stored in an airtight container. Use stick-on labels to keep track of how long they have been left inside and be sure to clear them after three to four days.

Eggs

Keep them where the temperature is most consistent – on the middle shelf. Keeping eggs out of the fridge causes them to become runny faster.

Milk and Dairy

Milk, butter and cheese should be kept at the back of the fridge. Once opened from their packaging, they should be kept in an airtight container. Softer cheeses grow mould faster than hard cheeses. Always pay attention to the expiry date and never keep food, especially milk, for longer.

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Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner: How to store food properly in fridge & freezer

How to store food properly in the freezer?

Bread

If you’ve got too much bread on hand, especially bread on the last day of its expiry date, keep it in the freezer. The ice crystals that form within the bread will keep the bread moist, even when it is put in a toaster.

Meat

Spread out raw meat instead of stacking packages on top of each other in the freezer, so as to reduce the formation of ice crystals. Fresh meat can only last about a day or two out of the freezer, so start to thaw only when you need to use them!

Herbs

Freeze-dried herbs retain the aroma of fresh herbs better, compared to dried ones. You could also freeze fresh herbs and olive oil into “ice” cubes and simply toss them into the pan to cook.

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All tips in this section are from Chef Randy Chow, chef in-charge of the Singapore Chefs Association’s education portfolio.