Cooktop Cove: 10 common foods: when to toss vs. when to keep
If you've opened your fridge only to quickly close it again while muttering "I don't feel like dealing with this right now" a couple of times this week, then it may be time to hunker down and clean out the refrigerator. In other words, stop stalling and get it done. One question is, however, what should you keep and what should you throw away?
Although many leftovers can be repurposed a few days after their shining moment at dinner, it's important to know when it's time to toss out an old dish or a forgotten ingredient. Here are 10 common foods you've most likely seen in your fridge and the answer to when it's time to say goodbye.
1. Slimy greens
It's pretty upsetting to come across slimy spinach at the bottom of the plastic container, especially if you promised yourself you would eat healthier this week. Try to buy loose spinach next time so you can grab only the amount you need.
2. Old condiments
There is always a recipe that calls for a condiment you can hardly pronounce. Whether it's maple syrup or a tart jam, if you noticed it when you moved into your apartment two years ago, it's about time to toss it.
If you're like anyone else in the world, you most likely run through coffee like water. But if you are a fan of trying lots of different roasts, you may be building up a collection in the pantry. The longer coffee sits, the less potent and flavorful it becomes, so if it's been gaining dust on the shelf for longer than you can remember, throw it away.
Some people aren't aware that spices lose their potency and savor over time. Generally, ground spices stay fresh for about three years whereas dried leafy herbs such as parsley or basil begin losing freshness after one year. It can be surprisingly difficult to go through an entire jar of coriander within a couple of years, so buying a smaller amount in bulk could be a better option.
5. Dried-out citrus
You may think you'll use that other half of a lemon, but will you really? If the last few times you went to get the milk out of the fridge you spotted half of a lemon or lime, try to juice the citrus ahead of time and jar it or use it all in one sitting to keep the contents fresh.
Similar to spices, tea loses its strength after a long period of time. If you're hoping to have a bold cup of English breakfast tea that you bought a couple of years ago, it might not give you the same buzz you were hoping for.
7. Deli meat
Everyone loves a sandwich jam-packed with thinly sliced deli meats, but you have to keep up with fresh meat such as turkey or ham. Most likely you should use it within a few days. Once it starts to smell a little off and stick to the plastic bag, it's time to toss it.
8. Frozen meats
Buying meats such as pork chops or chicken in bulk is one way to keep grocery bill down, but it can be a challenge to eat it fast enough. Freezing some is a fantastic idea, but the questions is how long can you really freeze meat for? Although vacuum-sealed frozen meat stored in a single layer is safe to eat indefinitely, it will lose taste after about three months. At that point, freezer burn can take over and dry out the meat.
Sometimes it can be a drag to eat the same meal two days in a row. Spacing yesterday's dishes out a day or two can help keep things exciting, but try to eat leftovers within three days.
10. Chicken or beef stock
Many recipes call for less than an average can or box of stock, so you'll find yourself with a lingering carton in the fridge. Never leave broth or stock in the original can, as it will start to take on that flavor, but you can pour it into another container and store it for up to three days. After that, it's time to toss it.
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