5 Everyday Foods That Keep Surprisingly Long

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — With an estimated 40% of U.S food being wasted annually, the average family of four throws away anywhere from $1,365 to 2,275 a year. This problem is entirely avoidable; it only takes understanding when foods are safe to eat and how they can be best stored for shelf life longevity.

 

According to the guide at StillTasty.com, much of your typical diet can defy the laws of expiration when kept in a specific way. However, it is good to note here that any person attempting to keep food fresh for months or even years at a time should ultimately rely on sight, smell and taste of foods to determine whether eating the food is a safe proposition.

Milk: can keep for up to 3 months

Although saving your milk for longer than its refrigerator shelf life may result in a change of consistency, it may be imbibed months after its printed expiration date.

Here's how to make it last: for long storage, freeze your milk in its original container. When you're ready to consume it, thaw it out and stir. Though it should be safe for cooking and drinking, let your senses be the ultimate judge of food safety.

Honey: can keep forever

Honey stored well may grow solid over time or even change color, but it will never be unsafe for consumption.

Here's how to make it last: as long as honey is kept in a cool place and in a tightly closed jar, it will keep.

Rice: can keep from one year to forever (depending on type)

Most rice varieties such as basmati, white and wild can stay fresh indefinitely, as long as they are kept well-sealed and away from contaminants. On the other hand, brown rice, which is higher in oil content, has a much shorter shelf.

Here's how to make it last: typical uncooked rice keeps well in a cool and dry location, while brown rice can keep up to a year when frozen.

Egg yolks: can keep for up to one year

Perhaps the most surprising of StillTasty's recommendation is that egg yolks can keep fresh with the appropriate storage tricks.

Here's how to make it last: empty the contents of an egg into an airtight freezer bag and mix in either some salt or sugar depending on your intended use of the egg yolk. Simply place the mixture in a freezer afterward.

Fish (purchased frozen): can keep up to one year (without safety concerns)

This category can be a bit fishy, if you will. Not all fish are meant to be frozen, such as is the case with smoked fish, which only keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Also, even certain frozen varieties might not last longer than three months.

Frozen fish, as most foods kept at consistently low temperatures, can retain their freshness for long periods of time, just don't expect that snapper to taste like it came out of the store, after hanging out in the freezer for 12 months.

Here's how to make it last: again, freeze the store-bought fish.

For more guidelines on seafood safety, be sure to visit Whole Foods Market's Seafood Safety page.

Also, consumers should be sure to follow the guidelines set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture on how to safely thaw their frozen foods:

Never thaw foods in a garage, basement, car, dishwasher or plastic garbage bag; out on the kitchen counter, outdoors or on the porch. These methods can leave your foods unsafe to eat.

There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. It's best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. Small items may defrost overnight; most foods require a day or two. And large items like turkeys may take longer, approximately one day for each 5 pounds of weight.

For faster thawing, place food in a leak proof plastic bag and immerse it in cold water. (If the bag leaks, bacteria from the air or surrounding environment could be introduced into the food. Tissues can also absorb water like a sponge, resulting in a watery product.) Check the water frequently to be sure it stays cold. Change the water every 30 minutes. After thawing, cook immediately.

When microwave-defrosting food, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving.

--Written by Jean-Marc Saint Laurent

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