You may want to rethink the way you store potatoes, bread and your hot leftovers from last night.
- For best quality, potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator. Cooking potatoes that have been refrigerated can cause them to darken and become uncharacteristically sweet—no, not like a sweet potato, but rather a distasteful sweetness. The cool temperature promotes the process of converting the starch to sugar, so the pantry is a much better storage option. If you store your potatoes at room temperature, they will keep for about one to two weeks. For longer storage of up to three months, potatoes should be stored at a temperature between 45° and 55° F.
- Storing bread in the refrigerator causes it to rapidly stale. Refrigerating bread significantly speeds up the staling process, but it does slow down the growth of mold. Bread is best kept tightly closed in its original package at room temperature for up to 4-7 days. Hard crusted breads will usually stay fresh for only a day or two at room temperature. If you are unable to eat a loaf of bread within a matter of days consider freezing the bread and then defrost slices as needed. Frozen bread will maintain its quality for about three months. It's true that stale bread still makes decent toast, but who wants stale bread when you can store it properly for freshness?
- Hot leftovers can go directly into the refrigerator (but use caution)! You do not need to be concerned about hot food heating the temperature of your fridge to an unsafe level. However, you do need to put hot food into a shallow container rather than a deep container so the food will cool quickly to a safe temperature. Large cuts of meat should be cut into smaller pieces so they too will quickly reach a safe temperature. Another option is the quick-chill method where you cool your food in an ice bath before placing it in the refrigerator. Hot food should be cooled to 40°F or below within two hours. Keep in mind this is a safety issue and not just a concern for quality as bacteria grows rapidly at temperatures between 40-140°F.
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