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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 13:36 EDT

Store Food Correctly or Lose It Quickly

September 17, 2008

By Heather McPherson

We can waste money simply by not storing food properly. The July issue of ShopSmart, a sister publication of Consumer Reports, has tips for storing hard-to-keep foods. Here are five staples that need some TLC:

Cheese

ShopSmart found conflicting advice. Fancy shops advise storing in porous wraps so cheese can breathe. The dairy pros say to take a tip from how supermarket cheeses are packaged and keep cheese airtight, which will prevent mold. ShopSmart’s advice: Wrap it first in wax paper, then wrap tightly in plastic.

Cooking oils

Buy oil in dark containers if possible and store in a cool, dark place. Buy only what you can use in three to six months – or one month for very fragile walnut and other nut oils. Like all fats, oil can go rancid. If you’re not using it fast enough, keep oil in the fridge. Oil congeals when it gets cold, so bring to room temperature to use.

Whole-wheat flour

Unlike white flour, whole-wheat flour (also wheat germ, brown rice and other whole-grain foods) contains higher levels of fat that give it a brief one- to three-month shelf life. If you use whole- grain ingredients only occasionally, they’ll keep about six months in the fridge and 12 months in the freezer.

Brown sugar

It can get as hard as a rock because of moisture loss during storage. Store in an airtight container to keep moisture in. If you’ve already got hardened sugar, heat in 250-degree oven until it’s soft and use it right away or it will turn rock-solid again, fast. Do not soften in the microwave, as the sugar can turn to a dangerous molten lava liquid.

Nuts and seeds

To protect them from going rancid, store in the fridge; they’ll last up to six months. In the freezer, they’ll last up to 12 months. Keep them in airtight, snack- or recipe-size portions so you can thaw only what you want to use. Toasting refrigerated or thawed nuts in a skillet or the oven for a few minutes will bring out the flavor.

Originally published by McClatchy Newspapers.

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