Food Storage Supplies Tips

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Keeping Lettuce Fresh

Smaller restaurants and cafes typically turn out the same amount of food as a large family might in a day. Because of this buying in bulk is not necessary. Still, keeping food fresh is . One of the hardest food items to keep "restaurant fresh" is lettuce.

Try wrapping extra leaves in paper towels, then sealing in a plastic (Ziploc) bag. Lettuce stays much fresher, much longer, which saves you money!

   
How can I stack dry goods easily?

Space-saving Storage

Make the most of the storage space you have in your restaurant's pantry by storing dry goods in stackable food storage containers. Plastic or stainless steel vessels are best for this type of storage, as the materials are not as heavy as glass and are also less likely to break. Choose containers with rubber or plastic air-tight seals around the edge of the lids or the mouth of the container whenever possible, to keep air out.

Arrange your stacks back to front on the shelving units, with items less likely to be used at the back. Specialty flours, grains, etc. fall into this category. Keep staple dry goods like sugar and salt at the front for easy access.

   
What are the pros and cons of glass food storage containters?

Glass Jars: How They Do & Don't Stack Up

Environmentally speaking, glass food storage containers are one of the best options for both dry and wet foods. Not only can you avoid the waste of plastic bags or containers (not to mention Styrofoam or other earth unfriendly materials), but glass does not absorb odors and is dishwasher safe. The downside is their weight. Alone, glass containers are often hefty enough, but once you add food to them, you're adding considerable ounces or even pounds. When it comes to storage, this can be a problem. One easy way to avoid damage, is to never stack glass jars. The jars on the bottom of the stack can (and probably will, eventually) crack with the weight of the jars on top.

   
Can I reuse food storage bags?

Reusing Food Storage Bags

Anyone who works in the restaurant business know how quickly you can go through food storage bags. Unfortunately, our landfills are piling up with these storage bags -- particularly the ones that are not accepted for recycling. (Anything but #2 and #5 is not accepted in New York, for example. Check your local municipality for recycling regulations.) Sturdy plastic food storage bags can be reused, however. Wash them as you do your other plastic containers. Bags can be propped or hanged -- open and upside down -- on hooks or stands to dry.

Bags that have held dry foods only are best for this recycling tip. Do not recycle bags that have held raw meat or that have been microwaved.

   
What is the difference between quality foods and safe foods?

Food Quality vs. Food Safety

Proper commercial food storage requires knowledge of the difference between food quality and food safety . A low-quality food like an overripe piece of fruit can still be safe to eat, while a high-quality food such as a piece of cooked, Grade A meat may be unsafe because it has touched a plate with a high bacteria count on it. Many factors make up a food's quality level: the standard its raw state, its processing methods, its storage, and the length of storage. Bacteria can enter food through negligent food handling. Be sure to keep your hands as well as anything the food touches clean—from counters to storage receptacles.

   
How long can canned food be stored?

Storing Canned Food

To keep your restaurant stocked safely, use these guidelines for canned good storage:

  • Low-acid Foods can be stored for 2 to 5 years (Includes: canned meat & poultry (Some canned ham, although if the label says refrigerate, do so.), stews, soups (not tomato), pastas, potatoes, corn, and most vegetables.)
  • High-acid canned goods can be stored for 1 to 1.5 years (Includes: tomato products, fruits, sauerkraut, and foods that have been pickled and/or are in vinegar-based sauces)

   
How can I organize my food storage shelves?

Organizing Your Food Shelves

To run a tight restaurant business, organization of your food supplies is key. Food storage shelving should be kept clean, not overcrowded, and above all you should be able to find what you need fast.

  • Organize your products by type -- baking, cooking, condiments, etc.
  • Make sure all items are labeled.
  • Turn labeled items so that their label is facing out.
  • When you restock, put newer items at the back of the shelf, behind the older ones. Use older items first.
As a general note, regularly check expiration dates on all food products. Even if it's a day off, get rid of it.

   
What are the benefits of vacuum seal food bags?

Air Out Your Food!

An efficient way to store many of your smaller restaurant supplies is though a vacuum seal food storage system. Food items that you wish to preserve exactly as is -- bananas, berries, soup bones, cold cuts, etc. -- are placed into the food storage bag and excess air is removed from the bag through either a mechanical vacuum, pump, or by hand. The bag is then sealed tightly, keeping the food fresh (perishables must still be frozen or refrigerated). Even bulkier non-food items such as aprons and hand towels can be sealed into bags as well. They'll take up less space in your storage cabinets.

   
What is food grade plastic?

Food Grade Plastics

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that plastics used for packaging food must be of greater purity than plastics used for the packaging of non-foods. As a result, this type of plastic is referred to as food grade plastic. Food grade plastic may not contain dyes or recycled plastic that has been considered harmful to humans. Recycled plastic can be used to create food grade plastic food storage containers, however. When using food grade plastics to store your foodstuffs, note that highly acidic foods like tomatoes or foods that contain alcohol and/or fats may leech plastic additives from the packaging or container into the food. Be sure to select only FDA-approved plastic food containers.

   
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Guru Spotlight
Patricia Walters-Fischer