Ten Tips for Keeping Your Food Safe This Summer

frozen raspberriesFood spoils quickly in the heat and releases harmful methane gases. Hannah provides 10 green tips for keeping your food safe.

Summer is coming to a close in some parts of the world, but here in the Middle East we’ve yet to see a break from soaring temperatures. But people and animals aren’t the only ones to feel the heat—our food has been suffering too. If you’ve ever come home to find that the leftovers you planned to eat have gone bad, you’ll know what I mean. Here are ten ways to keep your food at is freshest even in stifling weather.

  1. Keep your kitchen cool (I). In hot weather, your refrigerator works extra hard to stay cold enough to preserve your food. The food can start to spoil before the refrigerator has cooled it. A hot kitchen affects food left on the counter too.  Keep windows open and air flowing around the refrigerator, and use fans to draw heat out of the kitchen.
  2. Keep your kitchen cool (II). Cook outside the kitchen—or house—when you can. Especially avoid gas or electric ovens, which generates much more heat than other methods. If you don’t have a solar cooker, choose dishes that cook quickly on top of the stove.
  3. Keep your kitchen cool (III). Light is heat. Draw shutters or curtains during the day (you’ll have to balance this with tip #1), and use fluorescent lights at night.
  4. Shop frequently to enjoy food at its peak. If you live near a market, choose fresh produce, meat, fish and dairy products according to the season. If you can cook and eat them right away, you’ll save on the energy needed to cool off the food.
  5. Stagger your cooking. If you must cook in advance, allow enough time for each item to cool properly.  Trying to cool off too many items at once will strain even the most efficient refrigerator and put all your food at risk.
  6. Cook in small amounts that you can reasonably eat within a day or two. In the heat of summer, avoid cooking in large quantities to avoid spoilage.
  7. Avoid opening your refrigerator. This is tough if you have kids, but opening the fridge drastically raises the inside temperature. With a little planning you can remove everything you need at once. Refrigerators are most efficient at about 3/4 full, since refrigerated foods retain their temperature better than air. Also make sure your refrigerator is working properly without leaks or broken parts. Store bottles of drinking water for this purpose.
  8. Learn alternative ways of preserving food. Pickling, salting, and drying are all effective low-energy methods to keep food from spoiling.
  9. Keep foods in the fridge or on the stove until just before serving, and store leftovers immediately. Room temperature is an open dinner invitation for bacteria.
  10. Defrost frozen foods slowly in the fridge, not on the counter. The defrosting food helps your refrigerator stay cold, and your food won’t spoil.

Decaying food emits methane, a gas that likely contributes more to global warming than carbon dioxide emissions.

More Green Posts by Hannah Katsman
Ten Ways to Avoid Food Waste on Passover
Is This Food Safe to Eat?
Are “Green” Garbage Bags Good for the Environment?
Meat Prices Going Up? Tips for Switching to a Vegetarian Diet

Image via epsos

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