Food pests

Houseguests who nobody wants
The favoured haunts of food pests
are cereal products. more...

A packet of pasta, a tin of sweetcorn and a can of meat – to many people, the idea of keeping a store of food is dull and, since supermarkets now stay open until 10pm as a matter of course, a little out of date too. But in actual fact, a well organised pantry is anything but boring - how else are you going to feed those friends who drop round for a surprise visit with rumbling stomachs?

 

Indispensible in every home! If you ever have unexpected guests or you just haven’t had the time to get to the shops, a few ingredients are all you need to whip up a delicious meal. Your pantry should be home to the obligatory packets of pasta and rice, a couple of tins of vegetables, fruit, fish and meat, not forgetting bread and fresh fruit and vegetables, of course. Your fridge provides space for eggs and dairy products, whilst you can use your freezer compartment to store frozen vegetables, meat, fish and ready meals.


Ingredients from your pantry = Delicious meals!
Eggs, flour and a little milk are all you need to whip up tasty pancakes, for example. And if you also have a few vegetables, a bit of cheese or some bacon to hand, you can turn your plain pancakes into a vegetable-filled bake in no time at all. To make spaghetti carbonara you just need pasta, eggs, cheese and bacon, and you can create a fantastic bruschetta snack for any surprise visitors from bread or bread rolls, tomatoes, a few herbs and maybe some tuna. And don’t forget: every pantry needs to be replenished on a regular basis!


Emergency supplies: What you will need for 14 days:
So it is a good idea to always maintain a well stocked pantry, but we also have a few more handy hints when it comes to keeping sufficient emergency supplies to see you through a period of 14 days, if circumstances were such that you could not get to the shops within that time. The following food would be enough for one person to eat tasty and varied meals for 14 days:

This is how you store your food correctly. Tinned goods and other dry foods such as pasta or rice are so easy to store: they have a long shelf life and no complicated requirements when it comes to where they can be kept. However, they are best stored at room temperature and away from direct sunlight.


Fresh fruit and vegetables are much more demanding in terms of their storage needs. Lettuce, for example, will only keep for a few days in the fridge, preferably wrapped in a damp tea towel. Cauliflower and broccoli also belong in the fridge and should be consumed fairly soon after purchase. Potatoes, carrots, cabbage and celery, on the other hand, will keep for longer. If you have a provision cellar, you can store these types of vegetable in a wooden box along with a little sand.


Unlike most vegetables which, with the exception of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and aubergines, are best kept in the fridge, fruit does better when stored at room temperature. Apples and pears, however, will keep for much longer than other fruit if kept in a cool, dark cellar.

Tip: Ideally, you should store fruit separately from vegetables, as many kinds of fruit give off the ripening gas ethylene, which causes any fresh food in the immediate vicinity to ripen faster than usual.

How long does food stay fresh? All packaged food bears a best before date, which is designed to give you an idea of how long it should last. But if food has passed this date, that does not necessarily mean that it is bad; the best before date simply indicates that the food must still taste good and be of good quality up to this date.


Tins will keep for a very long time, usually two to three years. Pasta and rice can be stored for a long period too, around one year on average. Food also stays fresh for a long time if kept in the freezer, with exactly how long depending on the type of food in question. Beef and chicken can be stored in this way for around ten months, pork for only about six months. Fish and vegetables also have a relatively short storage life in the freezer, at around three to four months.


The shelf life of dairy products varies considerably: fresh milk can only be stored for a few days, but unopened UHT milk will keep for several months. Yoghurt usually stays fresh for one to two weeks, whilst hard cheese will last for one to two months.

 

With a few exceptions, fresh fruit and vegetables are only suitable for short-term storage, as they will usually only stay fresh for a couple of days. The exceptions are potatoes, cabbages, carrots, celery, onions, beetroot, apples and pears, which will still taste good after several months if stored in boxes in a provision cellar. However, you do not have to go without fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet: most types will keep for a good week.

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