How to preserve perishable food

Perishable foods must be preserved under certain conditions to avoid damage and the development of pathogens. Do you know what is the best way to do it? We'll tell you then.

Written and verified by the nutritionist Anna Vilarrasa on September 19, 2021.

Last update: September 19, 2021

The way food is preserved at home is an ideal opportunity to keep it in top condition. For this reason, it is important to know some tricks to preserve perishable foods.

The correct preservation of food is necessary to avoid the growth of microorganisms such as yeast, bacteria or fungi. With this it is also possible to prevent deteriorations such as rancidity or enzymatic browning.

Conservation techniques are very numerous and their application depends on the type of product and its use. that you want to give. At home, and once the purchase is made, it is important to know what is the best way to treat and store food. Especially perishable as they tend to spoil easily.

What are perishable foods

Perishable foods are more susceptible to spoilage than non-perishable foods.

Perishable foods are characterized by having a greater amount of free water in their composition. This remains available to microorganisms, favors their development and the product is susceptible to more rapid decomposition.

For this reason, and unlike non-perishable, this type of product spoils more easily and its useful life is shorter. In addition, most of them require conservation at refrigeration temperatures.

The fact of being more susceptible implies that it is necessary to preserve these foods under certain conditions. However, once stored correctly, most of them should be consumed in a short space of time.

The range of perishable foods is wide and includes fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, eggs, meat, and fish. In addition, all leftovers from cooked dishes are also considered within this group as well as canned foods that contain perishable foods once opened.

How long do the most common perishable foods keep?

This is an issue that often worries many people, since these are often not bought packaged and lack a label to check the dates. The Food and Drug Administration of the United States offers an indicative table of the times of conservation of some of them.

According to this same body these are short periods, but safe to prevent food from spoiling or becoming dangerous. The suitable temperature is 4 degrees.

  • Fresh eggs: 3 to 5 weeks.
  • Raw egg yolks and whites: 2 to 4 days.
  • Pasteurized liquid eggs once opened: 3 days.
  • Minced meat: between 1 and 2 days.
  • Cold cuts (by weight or once opened): between 3 and 5 days.
  • Fresh meat (beef, lamb, pork): 3 to 5 days.
  • Raw poultry meat (chicken, turkey): 1 to 2 days.
  • Raw fish and seafood: between 1 and 2 days.
  • Fresh milk and UHT milk once opened: 3 to 5 days.
  • Perishable food leftovers: between 3 and 5 days.

Secondly, vegetables also require storage under certain conditions to guarantee their safety and quality. In this case, the time periods are as follows for fruits and vegetables stored between 1 and 4 degrees.

  • Between 1 and 2 days: bananas, cherries, berries, mushrooms.
  • From 2 to 3 days: asparagus.
  • From 3 to 5 days: grapes, pears, peaches, rhubarb, plums and avocado.
  • 1 week: melons, blueberries, apricots, green beans, celery, beets, turnips, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, lettuce and cucumbers.
  • Between 1 and 3 weeks: apples and citrus.

Optimal storage conditions

Adequate refrigeration and hygiene are essential to avoid food contamination.

To preserve these foods in the best possible way, it is not only necessary to keep them in the right place and temperature. There are other issues to take into account that are also key to this task.

On the one hand, it is necessary to place the products in the fridge or freezer with the minimum possible time It is not recommended that they stay at room temperature for a long time. For this reason, at the time of purchase, they must be the last to be purchased and the first to be stored.

In the refrigerator it is essential keep food in suitable containers and with hermetic closure. It is also necessary to separate the raw from those already cooked to avoid cross contamination.

Refrigerating appliances must be kept at the proper temperatures. This is 4º C or less for the fridge and -18º C for the freezer. In addition, the order and cleanliness of the interior is important, especially if there are liquid or food spills.

Hygiene and order are also necessary for all those perishable foods that do not require refrigeration. In this case, it is essential to keep them in specific places for storage and away from potentially harmful products (chemicals and household cleaning products).

Helpful tips to optimize food preservation

At times, it may seem a bit difficult to meet all the necessary ideal storage conditions. Luckily, there are other tips and tricks that make this task much easier:

  • The first of all of them can be applied at the time of purchase, even before. It is important and very useful to make a shopping list of perishable foods that will be needed throughout the following days or week to Buy only those necessary and in the right quantities to avoid spoiling.
  • If possible, transport the most delicate products that need refrigeration (meat, dairy, fish …) in special bags that help maintain temperature.
  • Opening the refrigerator frequently or leaving it open causes a loss of cold. In this way, the preservation of food is endangered in addition to increasing energy consumption.
  • Mark the purchase dates on labels and place them in a visible place. This allows to be clear when it is better to consume each food. In the same way, it is very useful order foods according to the appropriate date of consumption.
  • Do not overload the refrigerator and leave spaces between containers allows a homogeneous temperature distribution.
  • If meat and fish are purchased for a longer season, immediately freeze those portions that will not be consumed soon. The faster, the lower the loss of quality and the risk of pathogen development.

Perishable food

A diet based on fresh, unprocessed foods can have many health benefits. Although almost all of them (meat, fish, dairy, eggs or vegetables) are usually products more susceptible to damage or contamination.

For this reason, Knowing how to keep perishable products under the ideal conditions is essential to prevent foodborne diseases and a possible loss of quality.

Most of them require cold storage, in suitable, clean places and within the appropriate containers. What's more, it is necessary to respect other food safety regulations in the kitchen. These include washing hands and surfaces before handling food, separating raw from cooked or applying the appropriate cooking temperatures.

Despite the completion of all the steps, the food is not free from suffering some kind of damage. For this, in front of a food that may be in bad condition (inadequate texture, appearance of mold, strong or unpleasant smell) it is preferable to discard it.