During the Christmas period, one thing that probably isn’t top of mind (but should be) is food waste. Below are some tips to help reduce food waste.
- Plan to use up the existing ingredients to make space for Christmas cooking.
- When you fill up your fridge with food for Christmas, turn down your fridge temperature to 1-2 degrees to keep seafood fresher and also because you may open the fridge more often than normal days.
- Defrost meat and seafood in the fridge, rather than on the kitchen bench. Bacteria is active when the food temperature is 5-60 degrees (so called the danger zone).
- Planning your meals over Christmas will not only save you time and money, but also help you and your family enjoy a healthy and balanced diet.
- Storing food correctly will keep it fresher for longer, so you can reduce the amount of food (and money) that you throw away. It also preserves the nutrients in your food and keeps it tasting delicious.
How to store your favourite festive foods
- Ham - Wrap ham in a clean cotton cloth or ham bag rinsed in a solution of two cups water and two tablespoons white vinegar. Rinse out or replace the wrap every three days. Slice leftover ham off the bone, wrap it in cling wrap, then foil and store in the fridge for 3-5 days and can be frozen up to 1-2 months.
- Roast chook/turkey - Remove the stuffing and store it separately as it has shorter shelf life than meat because of the moisture and mixed ingredients. Cooked meat if stored correctly, will last 3-4 days but when you heat it up, make sure it is piping hot.
- Seafood - Seafood will stay fresh longer if it’s kept cold. When shopping for seafood use a chiller bag or esky and ask your fishmonger to pack some ice with your purchase. Most fresh seafood should be consumed within 2-3 days and can be frozen for up to 3 months at minus 18 degrees. Defrost seafood in the fridge to keep it fresh.
- Salads - Serve small portions of salad or serve salad without the dressing and allow people to serve themselves with dressing. Salads with dressing generally cannot be reused. Store mixed leaves in an air tight container lined with paper towel to keep it fresher longer.
- Roast veggies - Put vegetables into the fridge within 2 hours after cooking to slow down bacteria that might grow. Roast veggies should be ideally consumed within 3-4 days and can stretched to 1 week depending on when they were put into the fridge. However, you can freeze them in a zipper bags or containers. Once the veggies defrost, you can’t freeze them again.
- Custard and dairy - Keep custards and dairy in the fridge until just before serving and return leftovers to the fridge within two hours.
- Christmas pudding - Christmas pudding can be refrigerated for up to three months or stored in the freezer for up to six months.
- Cream-based desserts - Cream based deserts should be kept in the fridge and placed back in their fridge within 2 hours. After four hours at room temperature, its past its best and shouldn’t be eaten. Kept cool, it can last 3-4 days in the fridge or freezer.
- Christmas biscuits - Soft cookies are at their best condition with 2-3 days, before becoming harder. You can store hard cookies in an air tight container with a paper towel at the bottom to absorb the moisture and they can last 2-3 weeks.