We all come home from the grocery store, our bags overflowing with the wide array of delicious foods we have bought, and then proceed to put a variety of meats, fish, poultry, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and eggs away. But how long can we really store food in the refrigerator and still maintain the freshness we desire in order to maintain a healthy diet? Obviously a great deal depends on how fresh the food is when we purchase it, so always try to buy the freshest. Pay close attention to expiration dates, they are there for a reason! The refrigerator should maintain a temperature somewhere between 34 and 40 degrees F, anything above this will cause foods to spoil rapidly.
The following food storage times are from the Office of Environmental Health; hopefully they are useful and allow you to enjoy a healthier diet while saving money by avoiding food waste:
Raw ground meat: 1-2 days.
Steaks: 2-5 days.
Chops: 2-5 days.
Fresh pork: 3 days.
Raw roasts: 1-2 days.
Smoked ham: 1 week.
Stew meat: 1-2 days.
Raw livers, raw heart, raw kidneys and other variety meats: 1-2 days.
Broiled, fried or roasted meat and gravies made with meat stock: 2-3 days.
Frozen packaged meats: 2-3 days.
Cold cuts, opened: 3-5 days. Unopened, 4-7 days.
Meat pies, cooked stews, casseroles containing meat, meat salads: 2-3 days.
Sliced bacon, unopened: 2 weeks. Opened: 5-7 days.
Fish and Seafood
Frozen fish: use immediately.
Cooked fish: 3-4 days.
Fresh fish: 1-2 days.
Smoked salmon, etc: 1-2 days.
Lox: 3 days.
Kippered cod, smoked whiting: 6-7 days.
Fish salads and sandwich fillings: 1 day.
Bisques, broth, chowders, stews: 1-2 days.
Shrimp, fresh (uncooked): 1 day.
Crab, in shell: 2 days.
Scallops: 1 day.
Lobster tails, in shell: 2 days.
Clams, in shell: 2 days. Shucked: 1 day.
Oysters: 1 day.
Dried or pickled fish: 1 week.
Poultry, frozen: 2 days after defrosting.
Fresh whole poultry: 1-2 days.
Fresh poultry cut in pieces: 1-2 days.
Cooked poultry: 2-3 days.
Duck: 2 days.
Poultry stuffing: 1 day.
Poultry Salads: 1 day.
Poultry pies, stews, creamed dishes, and gravies made with poultry stock: 1 day.
Milk, homogenized or skimmed: 1 week.
Pasteurized fresh whole or skimmed milk, sweet cream, flavored milk drinks: 10-14 days from sell by date on carton.
Sour cream, buttermilk, cultured milk: 2 weeks.
Sweetened & condensed milk (opened): 1 week.
Evaporated milk (opened): 1 week.
Whipped topping, aerosol can: 3 months. Prepared from mix: 3 days. Frozen: 2 weeks (once thawed).
Yogurt: 7-10 days.
Soft custards, milk puddings, cream and custard fillings for cakes and pies: 5-6 days.
Natural hard cheese, semi-hard cheese, processed cheeses (cheddar, swiss, parmesan, bleu, etc.): 1 month. Mold on the outside of a cheese block may be trimmed off.
Soft cheeses (cream, cottage, limburger, camembert): 1 week.
Cheese spreads: 1 month.
Grapes: 3-5 days.
Peaches, apricots, pears, avocados, nectarines, plums: 3-5 days.
Melons: 1 week.
Apples: 1 month.
Citrus: 2 weeks.
Berries, cherries: 1-2 days.
Cranberries: 1 week.
Pineapples, whole: 1 week. Cut: 2-3 days.
Brussels sprouts, broccoli, dried peas, summer squash: 3-5 days.
Cabbage, carrots, radishes, celery, parsnips, beets: 1-2 weeks.
Head of lettuce (unwashed): 5-7 days. Washed: 3-5 days.
Bib lettuce: 1-2 days.
Mustard greens, spinach, kale, beet turnip, chard, collard: 3-5 days.
Asparagus: 1-2 days.
Peppers, cucumbers: 1 week.
Tomatoes: 1-2 days.
Cauliflower, eggplants, snap beans: 1 week.
Corn, in husk: 1-2 days.
Mushrooms: 1-2 days.
Beans, lima, green, waxed: 3-5 days.
Rhubarb: 3-5 days.
To store food in the refrigerator for longer periods of time, try an exciting new product called eggstrafresh®. By reducing oxidation and retaining moisture eggstrafresh® helps provide increased freshness and flavor for all of your foods. Moisture loss and oxidation are the 2 leading factors that foster bacteria, mold and nasty odors which lead to rapid food spoilage. This innovative scientific wonder also improves the texture, taste and natural color of all the foods in the refrigerator and in the pantry! Visit http://www.eggstrafresh.com to learn more.
Mark Gold has more than 27 years of experience in the Food and Beverage Industry.