4. Storage Of Foods
Foods that are refrigerated should be handled with special care. Bacteria in such foods can multiply rapidly under adverse conditions. Most of your fresh produce should be kept refrigerated (unless it needs ripening at room temperature).
Dry mixes—like Vegebase (dried vegetables used as seasoning)—which can be safely stored in a cabinet, should not be kept in cabinets above the stove.
Don't taste any food that doesn't seem right. You don't even have to swallow the food to be poisoned by the toxins produced by certain types of bacteria. In some cases, even the food's taste is no indication of safety. When in doubt, throw it out.
Don't expect your refrigerator to do things it was never meant to do. You may have thought that refrigeration would destroy most harmful bacteria in food. Refrigeration will retard the growth of the bacteria found in food, and inhibit their multiplication and ability to spread or produce a poison, but bacteria or poison present in food may still be there even after refrigeration.
The same is true for freezing, probably even to a greater extent. Freezing does not kill bacteria in food; it simply stops their spreading. The bacteria will become active and again continue to spread as the food is thawed. Food should be used as soon as possible after thawing.
Cooked foods deteriorate rapidly, even in the refrigerator. It is important to have accurate thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator should be set at about 42 degrees, the freezer at zero. The motor and refrigerating unit should be kept free of lint and dirt. These substances cut off the air supply, overwork your refrigerator, and reduce efficiency.
The gaskets (the rubber insulation) around the doors should be flexible. Stiff, cracked and damaged insulation allows air seepage. Make a test with a dollar bill. Hold it halfway in the door, shut the door, and see if you can easily pull the bill out. If so, the gasket is allowing air to escape and should be replaced.
Check your freezer. Frost buildup of one-fourth inch or more actually serves as insulation against keeping foods well frozen. All items to be frozen should be tightly covered or wrapped in a moisture-resistant material.
Where you place the food is important. Some foods should be kept colder than others, and food placement affects air circulation and efficiency of the refrigerator. Keep in full view, so that you won't overlook them, those foods which should be used quickly.
It is best not to stack foods on top of one another if you can avoid it, and refrigerator shelves should not be covered with material which reduces or prevents air circulation.
Produce should be kept in the lower compartments to prevent crystalization. Food should be arranged so that the oldest is used first. This is important for safety, flavor, texture and nutrition.
Of course, the refrigerator should be kept clean and free of odors. An open box of baking soda, changed every few months, will absorb odor.
A Hygienist soon learns that it helps to have two large refrigerators. We keep the extra one in our garage. While the ideal would be to pick or obtain food for each day as needed, most of us cannot readily attain this ideal.
In order to buy and store organically grown apples by the bushel; fifteen pounds of organic potatoes and carrots at a time; a year's supply of nuts in the harvest season; a good supply of citrus fruit when the citrus season is waning, etc., these precious foodstuffs must have the best of storage facilities. This will not only minimize food losses, but will preserve as much as possible the food's value and flavor. As well as being refrigerated, they must be watched and culled, being sure to use them before they have a chance to degenerate. All of these foods store quite well, with an occasional apple or orange starting to break down prematurely. By and large, we have learned to minimize waste, and we enjoy a maximum supply of excellent food the year round, much of it organically grown.
Dr. Esser recommends that, wherever possible, the best idea is to build a large walk-in refrigeration unit in a shady spot or a place where the storage room can be set into a hill, or underground with steps leading down to the door. He gives specifications for building such a unit in his book, Dictionary of Man's Foods. He suggests, as one alternative, a storage room in the cellar of your house, and also gives specifications for this type of storage room. He suggests other alternatives, among which is the method we use—an extra refrigerator or two in a garage or basement.
Fresh fruits and vegetables call for careful handling. Most of them keep at maximum freshness in a refrigerator where it is cold and humid, and the sooner they are refrigerated after purchase, the longer they will stay fresh.
In discussing the storage of fresh fruits and vegetables, reference will be made to using pliofilm (plastic) bags for storage. Some Hygienists advise against the use of plastic bags or plastic anything. I don't use plastic dishes or plastic water jugs, but I still use plastic bags and plastic wrap. It is my opinion (or perhaps it is wishful thinking) that no significant transfer from plastic to food occurs, except in the presence of heat or acid. I use covered glass jars or containers whenever possible. If protecting a cut watermelon with pliofilm, people who feel very strongly against its use may thinly slice away the surface that has been in contact with the pliofilm.
The plastic storage bags available in supermarkets have proved indispensable in my kitchen. It is a good idea to double these bags, squeeze the air from the bags and close them tightly with wire "twists."
Perhaps you will like Dr. Vetrano's suggestion: Put a fine mist of water on your vegetables, put them in a brown paper bag, and then in a plastic bag.
Home > Lesson 24 - Selection And Storage Of Most Wholesome Foods, Part I
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