Food Storage - The Chef's Cooking School

Food Storage

Food Storage - 5 Common Types of Foods Stored and the area conditions for them

Dry Goods

1. Dry Goods such as flours cereals, cookies, chips etc should be held at 50 - 70 degrees with 52% - 62% humidity. They should be stored at minimum 6 inches off the floor and there should be able to have air circulate in the space.  Buying foods in bulk can save you money and you can utilize containers such as these below to aid you in storing the product safely and sealed.  

I have found deli containers, listed below here, quarts, pints and 1/2 pints very useful for storing prepared foods such as soups, sauces, relishes, vegetables.  They make bringing foods to parties convenient.  If you choose to use them for traveling, make sure the lid is secure, I put a band of masking tape from side to side over the top of the lid  to hold it secure from opening during travel.   


2. Dairy- considered milk, cheese, eggs,  Best storage temperature is between 35 - 40 degrees 70% - 90% humidity. Pasteurized milk and cream can be held up to 10 days where ultra-pasteurized dairy products can be held up to 6 weeks. Cheeses and eggs will be handled more thoroughly in about your food.


3. Produce- Fresh herbs and produce (fruits and vegetables) are best stored at 36 - 42 degrees with a 70% -90% humidity. When humidity levels drop the refrigeration unit starts drawing moisture out of the vegetables making there cell wall structure become weak, losing their crispness.  

Meats, Poultry, Seafood

4. Meats, Poultry, Seafood- Should be held between 33 - 36 degrees at 72% - 92% humidity. These should be kept away and below other refrigeration items <such as produce or dairy,because of the potentially bacteria carrying juices they seep. They should be thawed under refrigeration.

Bags that seal, such as a Ziploc bag or one that is sealed by heat like a food saver, are a huge helper in the kitchen.  You can store certain foods that you want to store that may remain after eating.  Examples of these may be, bacon, rice, green beans, salads.  These bags below are extremely helpful for storing prepped foods, cooked foods and foods that are marinated that you have set  aside for cooking later.


5. Freezer - The temperature of the freezer should be between -10 and 15 degrees. The closer to the freezing point you get the more potential you have of items continually thawing and freezing. This can drastically change the food qualities of something. The other contributor to changing food qualities is the lenght of time something spends in the freezer. Here are some guidelines for the maximum amount of time items should spend in the freezer.

Freezer Storage Timeline

  • Breads = 2 - 4 months
  • Coldcuts = 2 - 4 months
  • Dairy = Butter, Hard Cheeses = 6 - 8 months
  • Ice cream = 2 - 3 months
  • Poultry Chicken Fresh = 12 months Cooked = 4 - 6 months
  • Turkey Fresh = 6 - 8 months Cooked = 2- 4 months
  • Beef Fresh = 6 - 12 months Cooked = 2 - 4 months
  • Pork Fresh= 3 - 6 months Cooked = 2 - 4 months
  • Seafood Fresh Fin fish = 2 - 4 months Cooked = 1 month

Note From the Chef:

Storing foods is mostly common sense. You want to keep chemicals and other things away from your foods that can introduce hazards to your food.

Examples of hazards: Dish soap, dirt, bacteria, broken glass, window,cleaner, perfumes, pests, pets, standing water, aerosol spray etc.

The "shelf life" is the ideal time  that a food product will maintain its food qualities. Conditions such as ideal temperatures and humidity will determine if the "Shelf Life" is shortened, and how much.

Modern Refrigerators have many of these settings set up for your foods: meat drawer, produce drawer