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Fisher & Paykel Product Help

Food storage tips

Never before have we had better food available or a wider choice than we have today. We are more aware of quality and we are more aware of health.

We are rediscovering the anti-aging properties of food, their ability to lower cholesterol, increase lifespan, and improve general well being. We pay handsomely for exotic flavors and speciality foods. All these valuable food qualities can be damaged if subjected to temperatures and conditions which are not ideal.

These sensitive, fresh foods need to be treated with care if they are to retain their critical storage life, flavor, nutrients and quality beyond our expectations.

We are passionate about food and want to ensure you are able to enjoy all the flavor and goodness your food has to offer. The following pages have been included to offer you some helpful advice on how to keep your food fresher, tastier, nutritious and safer for longer, and how to get the best out of your CoolDrawer food care system.

Why do foods spoil?

The essence of optimum food storage is excellent food care.

The fundamental principle of improving food care is minimizing the quality losses associated with storage, including physical, chemical and microbiological changes, eg. moisture loss, bacterial growth, quality deterioration; and reducing the effects of undesirable factors, eg. dry air, light, unwanted moisture, odors, vibration and temperature fluctuations.

Foods spoil or deteriorate in quality for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The growth of bacteria, moulds or yeasts.
  • Chemical or biochemical reactions Moisture loss
  • Absorption of foreign odors or flavors

How can you slow down food spoilage?

Temperature control

Cold temperatures will slow down bacteria, mould and yeast growth. Remember the faster you chill or freeze your food the safer it will be from microbial growth and the better quality it will retain for longer. Once chilled to below 39°F / 4°C or frozen to 0°F / -18°C the temperature must be kept constant and accurate without large temperature fluctuations.

Chemical and biochemical reactions

Such reactions occur naturally in fresh produce and are what cause foods to ripen and eventually to decay. Chemical reactions are slowed down at colder temperatures. This means your fruits
and vegetables will ripen more slowly and therefore last longer when stored at refrigerator temperatures. The colder the temperature the slower this reaction will occur.

Moisture loss

Most food contains at least 60% moisture. The air in a refrigerator is very cold and therefore will dry out foods over a period of time. It is recommended that food is covered or wrapped to prevent unnecessary moisture loss.

Absorption of foreign odors and flavors

Exchange of odors can occur in many foods. Food such as eggs, butter and milk will absorb odors readily from fish. Fruit and eggs will also absorb flavor from onions. It is important to wrap odorous food to prevent this flavor transfer.

Your CoolDrawer has constant and accurate temperature control, providing a stable environment for your food. This combined with rapid cooling and freezing rates reduces the rate at which food will deteriorate.

Keeping food fresh

The quality of food before it is placed in the refrigerator is critical to successful storage.

For best results:

  • Select foods that are very fresh and of good quality.
  • Buy only the amount that you will use within the recommended storage time. If you buy extra, plan to freeze it.

Cover

  • Ensure that food is well wrapped or covered before it is stored. This will prevent food from dehydrating, deteriorating in color or losing taste and will help maintain freshness. It will also prevent odor transfer. Vegetables and fruit need not be wrapped provided they are stored in the vegetable bins of the refrigerator.
  • Make sure that strong smelling foods are wrapped or covered and stored away from foods such as butter, milk and cream which can be tainted by strong odors.

Separate

  • Store raw and cooked food in separate containers or packaging to prevent cross contamination.
  • Store fruit and vegetables separately.

Chill

  • Refrigerate fresh, perishable foods as soon as possible after purchase. If left at room temperature for any length of time the rate of deterioration will be accelerated.
  • Make sure that there is enough room for air to circulate freely around food items. Cold air needs to circulate to maintain safe food storage.
  • Avoid opening the refrigerator drawer unnecessarily.
  • Cool hot foods down before placing them in the refrigerator. This should be done quickly. It can be aided by placing the container of food in a bowl of ice and water; renew the ice as necessary. (Note also that hot containers may damage storage bins or trays in the appliance).

In addition:

  • Keep the compartment clean. Wipe the inside walls and shelves frequently and place only clean containers in the compartment.
  • Check the quality of the food in your appliance regularly. Discard any food that shows signs of spoilage. Pay particular attention to meat, fish and poultry, as these foods are highly perishable.
  • Use food within the recommended storage times.

Dairy foods and eggs

  • Most pre-packed dairy foods have a recommended use by / best before / best by date stamped on them. Store them using Fridge mode and use within the recommended time.
  • Vacuum packed cheese should be kept unopened in the original packaging. Once opened, place in a sealed plastic bag, or wrap in foil to prevent drying out.
  • Butter can become tainted by strong smelling foods so it is best stored in a sealed container.
  • Eggs should be stored in the refrigerator. For best results, especially when baking, remove the eggs from the refrigerator two hours before they are to be used.

Red meat

  • Place fresh red meat in a covered container or loosely cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap or foil.
  • Store cooked and raw meat separately. This will prevent any juices from the raw meat contaminating the cooked product.
  • Delicatessen meats should be used within the recommended storage time.
  • For best results, store fresh red meat using Chill mode.

Poultry

  • Fresh whole birds should be rinsed inside and out with cold running water. Dry and place on a plate. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or foil. Poultry pieces should also be stored this way. Whole poultry should never be stuffed until just before cooking, otherwise food poisoning may result.
  • Cool and refrigerate cooked poultry quickly. Remove stuffing from poultry and store separately.
  • For best results, store fresh poultry using Chill mode.

Fish and seafood

  • Whole fish and fillets should be used on the day of purchase. Until required, refrigerate covered with plastic wrap, waxed paper or foil.
  • If storing overnight or longer, take particular care to select very fresh fish. Whole fish should be rinsed in cold water to remove loose scales and dirt and then patted dry with paper towels. Place whole fish or fillets in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Keep shellfish chilled at all times. Use within 1 – 2 days.
  • For best results, store fresh seafood using Chill mode.

Always store raw meat, poultry, fish separately in the refrigerator to stop them dripping on or touching other foods.

Precooked foods and leftovers

  • These should be stored in suitable, covered containers so that the food will not dry out.
  • Storage containers should be shallow to assist in rapid cooling.
  • Keep for only 1 – 2 days.
  • Reheat leftovers only once and until steaming hot.

How should cooked meats be stored?

  • Cover all cooked meats to prevent drying and contamination from raw foods.
  • Do not put piping hot meats in the refrigerator. Cool left-over cooked meat quickly after cooking, then refrigerate.
  • Well cooked roasts will keep longer than very rare roasts.
  • Leave a roast whole, loosely covered with foil, in a cool place until it has partly cooled. Then wrap securely with foil and place in the fridge.
  • Leaving pieces whole prevents meat drying out.
  • To limit contamination and bacterial growth, do not slice meat until just before use.
  • Cured and smoked meats are less perishable than fresh meats. Leave pre-packaged items in their original wrappings or vacuum packs and refrigerate promptly. Once opened, keep tightly covered in the compartment set on Fridge mode and use before the expiry date.

Herbs and spices

  • Fresh herbs should be stored using Fridge mode.
  • Dried herbs and spices, which gradually lose their strength and flavor when exposed to heat, light and air can be stored using Pantry mode.
  • You can also seal fresh herbs in a freezer bag and keep them frozen for several months.

Salad dressings and sauces

  • Store opened jars of commercial mayonnaises on Fridge mode – make sure they are tightly sealed and they will keep for a number of months.
  • Products such as mayonnaise, mustard and tomato sauce may develop brown or black crusts around the rim of the bottle as a result of oxidation. It’s not harmful and doesn’t mean the food is going off. Just wipe it off before use.

Dried goods

  • Seal packaging well before placing it into the compartment.
  • Store dried goods, eg. flour, rice, cereal in Pantry mode in the warm months to reduce risk of insect infestation.

Fruit and vegetable care

The consumption of fresh vegetables and fruit continues to rise. Busy lifestyles mean we shop less often and buy a greater range of fresh foods. It is important that these fresh foods, including fruit and vegetables, retain their flavor, texture and nutrients and stay safe to eat for as long as possible.

There are three main reasons why fruit and vegetables deteriorate:

Respiration

Fruit and vegetables are highly perishable food products. They continue to ripen or respire after harvest. They use oxygen from the air to convert their natural sugars to heat energy, carbon dioxide and water. This causes the product to lose quality and food value. Refrigeration temperatures are the best method to slow down this natural respiration process. The colder the temperature the slower most fruit and vegetables will ripen.

Micro-organism growth

Fruit and vegetables are usually covered with micro-organisms which will cause decay given the right conditions. When vegetables are bruised, or the skin is broken, decay organisms enter the product. Decay and rotting will then occur if it is exposed to warm temperatures. Adequate refrigeration is the best method of controlling decay because low temperatures slow down the growth of most micro-organisms.

Moisture Loss

Another reason why fruit and vegetables deteriorate is loss of moisture which causes them to wilt and shrivel. Vegetables contain approximately 90% water and water loss is a major cause of deterioration. If vegetables are exposed to dry, refrigerator air, they will quickly dry out.

A high humidity, cold air environment is therefore necessary to extend the storage life of fruit and vegetables. This type of environment can be achieved by sealing the bins from the dry air in the refrigerator. This significantly increases the storage life of fruit and vegetables, ensuring they retain their crispness and remain a good source of essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. 

How the Humidity Control System (HCS) extends the storage life of fruit and vegetables

A specially designed lid seals the storage bins to create a controlled micro-climate. The lid has the following unique features:

  • It completely seals off the bins from the refrigerator air. The respiration of fruit and vegetables provide a high humidity environment in the bin and the lid prevents them from drying out.
  • It allows the temperatures in the bin to remain between 32 – 39°F / 0 – 4°C. These temperatures are required to slow down respiration and the growth of micro-organisms.
  • It has long narrow grooves on the underside to capture and retain condensation which has accumulated. This prevents the moisture from dripping back down onto the fruit and vegetables which would cause them to rot.

The storage life of fruit and vegetables varies enormously, being influenced by the maturity and quality of the produce at purchase and also the particular variety.

You can change the environment your fruit and vegetables are stored in simply by pressing the humidity control button.

Temperature sensitive fruits and vegetables

Not all fruit and vegetables enjoy the same temperature. For some, temperatures that are too cold can actually cause damage to flavor, texture and freshness. For example chill injury can result in watery, tasteless tomatoes, stringy avocados and discolored bananas.

It is important to care for these food items and Pantry mode does just that. It provides a cool (54°F /12°C) environment ideal for temperature sensitive foods. This temperature also allows fruit to ripen slowly under controlled conditions.

Some examples of temperature sensitive produce best stored using Pantry mode:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Bananas

For more examples refer to 'Pantry mode'.

Points to remember:

  • Fruits and vegetables not fully ripe when purchased will have a longer storage life especially when refrigerated.
  • Root vegetables should be kept in the dark. Light slowly turns their surface green, which makes them taste bitter and means they contain solanine, a chemical which is toxic in large doses. You can peel off small green patches, but if they are green all over, throw them away.
  • Store root vegetables in brown paper bags on PANTRY mode.
  • Store soft, small fruit in the compact storage tray.

Ethylene Gas

Ethylene is an odorless, colorless, gas produced naturally by fruit and vegetables. This gas plays an important role in accelerating the ripening process. Some fruit and vegetables produce large amounts of ethylene, while others are very sensitive to the gas. You may have noticed that when you place an apple into the fruit bowl with bananas, the bananas will ripen more quickly. This is due to the ethylene gas given off by the apple.

By separating those items that produce high levels of ethylene from those that are most sensitive, you can prevent food from spoiling too quickly. As a general rule, separating fruit and vegetables will help reduce the effects of ethylene.

Examples:
 

Food sensitive to ethylene Foods that produce high levels of ethylene

Avocados (unripe)

Apples

Brussel sprouts

Apricots

Broccoli

Avocados (ripe)

Cabbage

Cantaloupe

Carrots

Cherimoya (custard apple)

Cucumber

Passionfruit

Eggplant

Peaches

Kiwifruit

Pears

Lettuce

Tomatoes (ripe)

Persimmons

 

Quince

 

Spinach

 

Tomatoes (unripe)

 

Watermelon

 

 

Frozen food care

Freezing temperatures allow food to be kept for longer periods than when refrigeration temperatures are used. This is because:

  • The growth of bacteria, moulds and yeasts is stopped
  • Chemical and biochemical reactions are severely restricted.

Fast freezing of food

The faster you freeze your fresh food, the better the quality of the end product. During the freezing process ice crystals form within fresh food cells. These crystals can expand to a point where they break down the cell walls. This can cause ‘drip loss’ on thawing. Freezing food rapidly ensures that these ice crystals are kept as small as possible to retain quality of frozen foods.

Less drip loss means a more moist, more tender product on thawing, therefore retaining more of its nutritional value.

Freezer storage times are dependent not only on temperature but also on the quality of food being stored and the use of the correct moisture and vapor-proof packaging.

For best results:

  • Choose only high quality foods that freeze well.
  • For optimum freezing results we recommend removing storage bins from the compartment and placing food directly on the trays.

Temperature

  • Store at 0°F / -18°C or colder. Take care to maintain this low storage temperature, eg. try to avoid opening the drawer unnecessarily.
  • If your ice cream is soft you are running Freezer mode too warm.
  • For general freezer storage select Freezer mode.
  • For longer term storage select the Deep Freeze function. The lower temperature will preserve food for longer.

Packaging

  • Use good quality freezer proof packaging to maintain food quality. If food is only covered in plastic film, place inside a freezer-proof plastic bag.
  • Leave space at the top of containers, glass jars or plastic bags containing liquids or semi-solid foods. These expand as they freeze. Usually 1 – 2 inches (20 – 50 mm) head space is recommended. Remove all the air from the packaging and seal tightly before freezing.
  • When using the Deep Freeze function, ensure that freezer packaging is thick and airtight to reduce risk of freezer burn.

Time

  • Freeze immediately or as quickly as possible. For best results activate the Fast Freeze function.
  • Keep a constant turnover of food. Use older items of food first. Do not exceed recommended storage times.
  • Keeping food frozen past the recommended time will not affect food safety but will adversely affect the quality of the food.

Amount

  • Freeze only small quantities of food at any one time. For best results we recommend that only 2.2 lb (1 kg) food per 0.9 cu. Ft (25 L) of storage volume capacity.
  • Do not pile frozen food around the air delivery vents at the rear of the compartment. It can prevent adequate air circulation.

Thawing

  • Thaw foods preferably in a refrigerator, or using a microwave oven or multifunction oven.

Meat, poultry and game

  • Meat must be frozen quickly in order to maintain its texture.
  • Do not stuff poultry before freezing.
  • Red meat can be cooked from frozen, or from the partly or completely thawed states. Remember to allow extra cooking time if cooking from frozen.
  • Always thaw poultry completely before cooking.

Fish

  • Fish is best frozen commercially. If however you do want to freeze fish at home, make sure the fish is very fresh and of high quality.
  • Clean, scale and preferably leave whole. All fish should be wrapped in two layers of packaging as depending on the type of fish, odors and flavors can be readily transferred either to or from it. Seal packaging well.
  • For best results, cook from either the frozen or partly thawed state.

Vegetables

  • Most vegetables freeze well, although salad vegetables are not recommended as they will lose their crispness.
  • Other vegetables, eg. celery, onion and tomatoes should only be used in cooked dishes as they soften on freezing.
  • Freeze only high quality, mature, ready-to-eat vegetables.
  • Sort and discard any that are damaged.
  • It is necessary to blanch most raw vegetables prior to freezing. Blanching involves a short cooking period during which vegetable enzymes are destroyed. If these enzymes are not destroyed they cause undesirable physical and chemical changes during freezer storage. Vegetables can be blanched in boiling water, steam or in a microwave oven. If using boiling water, boil vegetables for 2 – 4 minutes and cool quickly.
  • In general, frozen vegetables are best cooked from their frozen state.

Prepared and cooked foods

Most cooked foods can be frozen but it is not recommended to freeze the following:

  • Cooked egg white, custards, cream fillings and milk puddings, gelatine or jelly-like dishes, mayonnaise and similar salad dressings, meringue toppings. These tend to separate on thawing.

Fruit

  • Choose high quality, mature, and ready to eat fruit. Preferably select varieties recommended for freezing.
  • Avoid unripe and over-ripe fruit.
  • The way fruit is packed depends on how it is to be used. Fruits packed in syrup are ideal for desserts, whereas fruits packed without sugar are better used for cooking. Most fruits can be stored for 8 – 12 months.

Keeping food safe 

If highly perishable fresh food is not cooled and frozen quickly, harmful bacteria can grow and may cause food poisoning – anything from stomach upset to serious illness.


Fig. 7 Identifying safe storage temperatures for highly perishable food 

The bacteria that cause foodborne illness like Campylobacter and Salmonella multiply rapidly in warm, moist conditions. Fortunately the illnesses these bacteria cause are avoidable. By simply following the easy food handling tips below you could be helping to keep your family and friends safe from illnesses caused by foodborne bacteria.

Clean

  • Thoroughly wash and dry hands and work surfaces before preparing food.
  • Keep cooked and raw food separate during preparation and storage, and use separate chopping boards and utensils to avoid cross contamination.
  • After preparing food, clean all surfaces that have come into contact with food.

Cook

  • Defrost frozen foods in the refrigerator thoroughly before cooking.
  • Minced meat and sausages should be cooked right through, and pork and poultry juices should run clear – use a meat thermometer to check temperatures.
  • Pre-cook ground/minced meat, sausages and poultry before barbecuing.
  • Put leftovers into the refrigerator as soon as they’re cool.
  • Reheat leftovers until steaming hot throughout and do not reheat more than once.
  • Do not put cooked meat back on the same plate that held raw meat.

Cover

  • Always cover stored food – even in the fridge or cupboard.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry covered in the bottom of the fridge and away from ready-to-eat food, fruit and vegetables to avoid dripping juices.
  • When cooking or eating out doors, ensure that all food remains covered and cool until ready to cook or eat.
  • Remember - the only time your food should be uncovered is when you’re eating it!

Chill

  • Bacteria that cause foodborne illness thrive at room temperature - keep food very cold or very hot.
  • Use shallow containers to chill food quickly.
  • Keep all perishable foods in the fridge until you are ready to use them.
  • A chiller bag is a good way of keeping chilled and frozen products cold when taking them home from the supermarket.
  • While picnicking, keep food cool by using a frozen chilly pad or drink bottle.
  • Defrost frozen foods in the fridge or microwave, and marinate food in the fridge, not on the bench.
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