food

UNPOPULAR OPINION: I keep everything in the fridge, because it's gross if you don't.

I posted a photo of myself on Instagram and it divided the internet. (Well, my 45 followers.)

It was a snap of me drinking straight from a bottle of champagne, but no one judged me for that. They did, however, have something to say about the contents of the open fridge in the background. 

You see, I was storing some unusual items in my fridge. Bi carb soda and Vegemite, rice and Demazin. Sugar and honey. 

Apparently, according to the people who slid into my DMs about it, this is weird and wrong.

But hey, that’s just the way I roll. I keep everything in the fridge. Tomato sauce. Even biscuits and flour. It works for me. As long as an item is sealed, nothing goes soggy. I just feel like it keeps food fresher for longer.

 Also, I never have worry about critters of any sort. 

And finally, I just think it tastes better. I love chilled fruit, for example. And chocolate. (I also love pineapple on pizza so I guess I’m a food rule rebel in general.)

I realised I’m weird, though, not only by responses to my post, but when I’m in other people’s kitchens. Butter, for example, should not sit out on the counter – it’s a dairy product!

Side note: Don't use the microwave when reheating these 5 foods. Post continues below.

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Video via Mamamia

Chocolate is disgusting when it’s room temperature. As is cheese. 

I know many will disagree – because it all comes down to personal preference. And maybe proper food storage practices.  

I’ll admit, I’m not sure of the effect of keeping Ice Magic in the fridge and letting it come to room temperature to use it, and then popping it back; but I have been doing it for years and so far, so good. And delicious.

But what does a food professional say about all of this? I asked my friend Annabel Bower, a Ballymaloe Cooking School graduate (that's a fancy school in Ireland), and successful caterer, what she thought of my habits. 

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“When I worked as a private chef for a Lord and Lady in England, I remember being shocked by what they kept in their ‘cold larder’. Cheese, pheasants, butter and bacon weren’t refrigerated, which for an Aussie girl used to 40-degree summers seemed crazy, if not a sure-fire way to give everyone food poisoning,” Annabel says.

Ok, that makes sense. As does her categorisation of food by – surprise, surprise – their water and preservative content.

“Foods which are high in natural preservatives such as sugar, salt and vinegar can be safely kept in the pantry so long as they’re not cross contaminated with other less stable ingredients. 

“Think of a knife which has been used to spread cream cheese which is then plunged into a jar of jam or chutney or a knife used to cut meat dipping into the mustard. To prolong the life of condiments, always use a separate utensil to serve them with.”

Yeah, no one wants cream cheese in their mustard. But what about my chilled Vegemite? 

“From a health perspective items like flour, Vegemite, and mustard don’t need to be refrigerated; it’s down to personal preference,” Annabel says.

“Honey, if not mixed with any other substance and kept well sealed, will never ever go off because in its purest form it’s very low in moisture, and very few bacteria or microorganisms can survive in this environment.  

“Applying this logic to other items can help determine what should and shouldn’t be in the fridge. 

 “An item such as flour, which is a dry ingredient, is safe to be stored in the pantry. Foods such as bread, which is in essence flour with moisture added, will be fine in the pantry for a few days but eventually, given its water content, it will start to grow spores and go mouldy.”

Annabel adds that meat and cheese should always be refrigerated when not being consumed, and discarded if they've been exposed to 40 degree temperatures for more than four hours.

The one thing that surprised me is that Annabel keeps eggs in the pantry; but there’s a reason for that, because she’s a professional food person, and I most certainly am not.

“I tend to keep eggs in the pantry as the cooking times are changed if they’re stored in the fridge, and I always find my meringues work better it I’m using room temperature eggs.”

See, I might know that if I actually ever cooked anything.

Feature Image: Instagram.

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