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In this episode, Laura-Jane The Rawtarian answers a listener question about how to best store your raw food recipes and ingredients.
Listener Submitted Question:
I'm curious both about best practices for whole foods, but also prepared items. I'm finding that this has become more of an issue for me as the summer heats up. I'd appreciate it if you could tackle three areas:
Time: how long do you store particular items (especially prepared foods)
Location: where do you store particular items? Does it vary depending on the season?
Containers: what kids of tupperware or other vessels do you use to store your recipes? (We know you'd never use your blender in the fridge.)
All best from Connecticut in the US,
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Welcome to episode number 44 of The Raw Food Podcast. I’m your host Laura-Jane, The Rawtarian, from therawtarian.com, and today we are talking about none other than raw food storage. How long should you keep certain recipes, where should you store them, and what should you put them in? So stay tuned and I'll be back with you shortly.
Thank you so much for joining me on another episode of The Raw Food Podcast. Lately, in recent episodes, we have had a lot of amazingly fun interviews with raw food celebrities, and I have loved doing that. But today I was just looking through my email archives and I found an excellent listener submitted question that I wanted to record an answer to, so that is what we're going to do today.
It's all about raw food storage and it is, in fact, Christina from Connecticut, who writes: Hi, Laura-Jane. Would you consider recording an episode about raw food storage? I am curious both about best practices for whole foods, but also prepared items. I am finding that this has become more of an issue for me as the summer heats up. All the best from Connecticut, Christina. And not only that; she also included some really great talking points for three questions, all about raw food storage.
So she asks, number one, how long do I store particular items? Number two, location; Laura-Jane, where do you store your items? And then number three, containers; what sort of vessels or boxes or cubes am I storing my stuff in? So we are going to talk about those three excellent questions from Christina. Christina, thank you for writing in. So without any further ado, we might as well just jump right in and talk about her first question. So she wrote: Time; how long do you store particular items, especially prepared foods?
And before I jump into that answer, we are going to talk about things you should never store. Number one, smoothies. Why store a smoothie? It gets all congealed, it's all gross. Don't store your smoothies; just drink the whole thing and just be happy. So yes, I don't really like to store smoothies. If you really have to do something crazy, the one thing you can do is, let's pretend you want to make your smoothie in advance, so you can get out the door quick in the morning, well, you could take that blender, you peel your oranges, you put your greens in there, you put all your fruits into the blender and veggies and whatnot, and even the water, actually, and just pop the lid on and store that unblended in the fridge. Then in the morning, you just get it, boom, pop it on the base of your blender and you're good to go. So yes, that's one idea; I know that's a tangent.
But we don't store smoothies, because that's kind of gross. You're not gross if you do it, but they get all weird, and especially if you're new, don't do that. And number two, soups in your blender. I love a blended soup, creamy celery soup, red pepper soup, the list goes on. But again, not so appetizing being stored in the fridge, so I would say don't do that, because it's kind of gross. Again, it's just that they get all weird and then they're all cold and it's just wrong, so we're not doing that.
Next on the agenda would be salads. Of course, a green salad with dressing on it, you don't really want to store that. But what you can do is store your dressing separately in a little mason jar or whatever you like, something with a tight lid, and usually your dressing will actually stay for four or five days, that kind of thing. I also will sometimes prepare salad ingredients in advance, so I might shred up my carrots or make a big vat of shredded carrots or shredded beets and that kind of thing, but you want to store each ingredient separately, because they all have different storage times. So actually, case in point, shredded carrots, they actually don't stay shredded very long in the fridge. Meaning they don't un-shred themselves, but they kind of get wet and weird after about three days. But ultimately what you want to do here is keep your shredded or chopped veggies separately, because they all decay at different rates in your fridge, so keeping them separate is good. But onto the meat of the question, which was basically in terms of prepared foods, how long do I store them for? Well, I do eat a lot of nut pâté, so that would be like raw vegan taco meat or a walnut-based nut pâté or any of those kinds of things, or even maybe an alfredo sauce or any of those things. I'm getting hungry as we talk about this.
But basically I will keep all of those in the fridge, and I do find they keep quite well, so three days for me is generally a really good timeline for a nut pâté or some sort of weird savory thing you've made. Three days is usually really good. And that's actually one of the things I love about nut pâté is the consistency doesn't really change. You're pretty much good to go there. I tend to use up my nut pâtés quite quickly, and I think mostly that's because they're so versatile, so I might have some on a salad, some on a cracker, some formed into little balls to make almost like an explosion of protein on top of a salad. So I use them for different things, so I actually don't feel the need to freeze any of my pâtés and I don't tend to do that.
But if you were going to freeze something, I generally recommend-- you know it; if you've made a batch of something, and say you're a single person, and you look at this thing and you're like, 'Oh my gosh. This is huge; I'm never going to be able to eat this all.' Well, if you're going to freeze it, freeze it immediately, freeze it when it's fresh. Just split it in half and you can put some of that in the freezer and some of that in the fridge, and then eat the fridge one first. Because usually once something starts to get old and you're like, 'Oh, this looks kind of old and I'm really sick of it, so I'll put it in the freezer now,' and then you kind of have a bad feeling about it and you'll probably never eat it out of the freezer again. So that's a little bit about pâtés and how long to store them for. But generally I don't actually really freeze pâtés; I usually just will eat them within the three days, and to be honest, I usually just put them in a bowl with some plastic cling wrap on top of them. But in terms of for the main entrees, so things like dehydrated veggie burgers or falafel that I've made or pizza shells and that kind of thing, I actually do store most of those in the freezer.
And I think the big difference for me is I feel like those are really high value, desirable items, so if I've made 8 or 10 veggie burgers in my dehydrator, that's taken quite a bit of work. I don't want to just gobble them up or let other people gobble them all up in one day; I really want to savor them and have them over a longer period of time than the next 24 hours, because those types of things don't keep in the fridge quite as well, dehydrated items, because they tend to pick up moisture in the air from the fridge and then they get kind of all wet and weird. So for dehydrated, savory things, like I mentioned, those pizza shells, veggie burgers, that kind of thing, I will usually either eat them right away, like that day, or freeze them and usually do a mixture of them both.
So let's pretend we're talking about pizza shells here. I would maybe have a couple of those pizza shells today, and then freeze all the rest of them. And for those pizza shells, actually I just put those in a big Ziploc bag, zip it up, and pop that in the freezer. And what and why I love doing that is then, even a week down the road, maybe that afternoon I'm thinking, 'Hmm, I'd love to have some pizza for dinner,' and I'll just take out a couple of pizza shells and put those in the fridge and let them defrost, and then when it comes time for my evening meal, then I would actually probably put them in the dehydrator again. But they've already been dehydrated, so you don't really need to; it's mostly just to warm them up, or maybe they've gotten a little bit moist in the fridge, and it's just to kind of like take that last minute moisture away. So it's not like you have to dehydrate it for hours on end or anything. But if I am keeping a main in the freezer, to come back to the actual question of Christina's, if I'm keeping it in the freezer, I tend to feel like things are still fresh if they've been in there for about two weeks or less. For me, once something's been in the freezer for more than two weeks, it's probably still fine - I'm not saying you shouldn't eat it - but for me it's almost a mindset, psychological thing. I'm like, 'Oh, there's that old pizza shell in the back of the freezer. No, thank you.' So it's kind of like a mindset thing, because of course you can eat things that have been frozen for ages.
And maybe the last-- well, I could actually talk also about crackers, because-- well, let's just say this; in terms of crackers, when I make a dehydrated cracker, it usually has some very delicious nut as the main ingredient, which is quite fatty and delicious. And when you have a cracker that has a lot of fat in it, when you freeze it, it's actually going to freeze really nicely; it's not going to get all crystallized, it's not going to go weird in the freezer [inaudible [00:10:37.27] beautifully. So what I do, every time I make any crackers in my dehydrator, I will take them out and probably let them cool off, I guess, and then I will just put those all in big Ziploc bags and put those in the freezer, even if I'm going to eat some tomorrow or the next day or that kind of thing. They store beautifully in the freezer, and as I mentioned before, they are not going to get all crystalized or anything like that, if you have a really proper recipe that has a good ratio of veggies to nuts, which most of them do. So I would basically freeze all of my crackers, and then they take so little time to defrost. A, of course they're really thin, and B, seriously, if you just take that out, put that on the counter for 10 minutes, it's going to taste the same as it did before. So they really don't actually need to defrost a lot, because it's not like they become rock solid anyway, just because of the ingredients. And especially if there's a little bit of oil in there too, they don't tend to just become like a hard ice cube or anything like that. They pretty much almost retain their consistency.
So I definitely recommend freezing all of your crackers and eating them pretty much right out of the freezer or you really only have to defrost it for 10 minutes. It depends how picky you are, I suppose, but that's definitely what I do with all of my crackers, and then that way I always know there's no questionable, like, 'Has this gone funky? How old is this?' I just kind of know that they're there for me when I want them. So that's a little bit about the cracker issue, because crackers are so handy and useful, and for me, that's the main thing I love about my dehydrator, is being able to make crackers. And then lastly, if you know me, you know I love desserts, and most of the desserts I make actually just are always stored in the freezer. The recipe just is like that. It's kind of like a lot of ice cream cakes and that sort of thing, so they should be kept in the freezer. Again, I would use that sort of two week timeline.
Now, there's other recipes, so for example, my brownies or some really dense, nutty chocolate truffles that are made from nuts. Those can actually stay in the fridge for quite a long time, like, even a week, maybe, those brownies, if they would last that long in your house. But it's just because they're mostly nuts and maybe some dates, and they just keep their consistency really well. I think most of the storage stuff is a lot about consistency. So if you have a super-fruity raspberry banana pie, that is not going to keep in the fridge very well, because you have all that fresh fruit and it's kind of dripping into the date and nut crust. So those kinds of recipes with the fresh fruits really don't keep very well. It's not so much that the food goes bad; everything gets all smushy and it's just those kind of really fresh recipes, like I said, kind of a banana raspberry pie that's just all this fresh fruit on top of a nut crust, that's just not going to keep very well.
But ultimately what you want to do is just double check on the recipe that you're making and just follow those instructions. So most of my recipes actually are frozen recipes for a reason, and a nice side effect of that, as well, is that especially if you don't want to be eating a huge cheesecake in one sitting, so that way you'll have a nice dessert that lasts for a long time in your freezer. So mostly I would say most really fresh desserts would only be a couple of days at best. A really, really nutty dessert that's really just hugely nutty, with not a lot of fruits and stuff, that could really be good for a week. And then in the freezer, you kind of have an unlimited time period there. So that's my A to Christina's Q, part one.
Then the second question that she asks is location: Where do you store particular items? Well, this is a beautiful question, and firstly what we want to do is take our produce and take it out of those bins that are in the bottom of your fridge, the murky, scary area at the bottom of the fridge. And I love to keep, and I recommend keeping all of your fresh produce on the top shelf in your refrigerator. You want to be able to see your greens, you want to be able to see what fresh fruits you have access to, and this just really keeps it the opposite of out of sight, out of mind. And you can just use those produce bins for other things that you have in your household. If you have other people, or if you're still eating some traditional, 'normal' food, you can just move those down to the lower shelf. And I think it really almost gives you an environmental cue of like, 'Ooh, this is the stuff I should be eating,' and it's right there and you don't have to bend down and grovel in those scary bins. So I definitely keep most of my produce in the fridge. Of course, there's onions and bananas and that kind of thing that you don't want to keep in the fridge, but generally I do that. Now, for fresh fruit that I like to eat myself, just like an orange, if I want to peel it and go, what I tend to do is, say, if I've purchased a bag of 10 oranges, I'll keep 8 oranges in the fridge and I'll keep 2 oranges on a fruit plate on my counter, because I like to have-- I don't like cold orange. That would hurt my teeth, I think. So what I like to do is I keep a little selection of whatever fruit and veggies that I want to have out, and then I would keep the majority of them in the fridge, and then I just kind of cycle them.
So if I eat an orange or two, then I take a cold one and plop it back on the fruit plate, and then I'm ready for my next snack. So that's produce; mostly, of course, in the fridge. And then for your sort of nightshade, if that's right word, onions, and root vegetable kind of things, you just want to keep those, of course, in a pantry with the door closed, because they like the dark. And, well, nuts and that kind of thing, where do I store those? If I was a perfect person, I would keep my nuts in the fridge probably, or even in the freezer, I guess, just because you do hear a lot about nuts going rancid, and that seems to be the recommended thing to do with nuts. I have never done this. I think, for me, if I had a separate fridge to keep my nuts and raisins and that kind of stuff, that would probably be nice. But, for me, my fridge is already kind of jammed and I have so many brazil nuts and macadamia nuts and cashews; I have a lot of nuts, so for me, I don't refrigerate them. But it is a good idea to do that, if you have the room and the space and are organized enough to be able to make that happen. But basically, so where do I store particular items? What I do is I just have most of my nuts and seeds and dried fruit and stuff, mostly the nuts, for sure, all in mason jars, and then I just have kind of a mixture. It's all in a huge pantry cupboard, so I kind of open that and I'm looking at a bunch of nuts in jars, seeds in jars, and then just some plastic sacks of whatever dried fruit or whatever random stuff in there, like chia seeds or whatnot. But I do like to keep all of those together. I kind of have my dry pantry, and then I have, I guess, the wet pantry, which would have things like honey or maple syrup, coconut oil, olive oils; that kind of thing is all together in a different area. Again, just in an unrefrigerated cabinet. And that's kind of all about where I store my items. I'm not too creative about anything. I think I'm probably just pretty normal, in that sense. I'm not an overly kitchen gadgety person or an overly organized person. It's just kind of a regular cupboard, I guess. I'm a normal person.
And number 3, Christina's question is about containers: What kinds of Tupperware or other vessels do you use to store your recipes? And I love she adds: We know you'd never use your blender to store things in the fridge. Christina's so right. This is one of my big sins that you should never do is never store a half drunk smoothie in the fridge in the blender, because it just gets all weird. What you want to do is clean your blender out right away, etc. That's me going on a tangent.
Basically, in terms of the kinds of Tupperware or other stuff I use, one of the main things that I use is I have a whole punch of medium sized Pyrex bowls that have rubberish lids. It's basically like Tupperware, but the base is glass instead of plastic. And I love those; those tend to be my go-to storage containers. So although I use mason jars for a lot of storage-related things in terms of my pantry and storing my nuts and all that kind of thing, mason jars don't tend to get used as Tupperware or storage containers, in that sense, in my refrigerator. I'm not sure if it's just because of their size; you know, they're kind of tall and skinny and I'm not storing a lot of liquids, and for me, a mason jar for storage is more for lemonade or something wet.
So I'm not really using mason jars for storage, in that sense. I think, to be honest, one of the main things you'll find in my fridge is really just some medium-sized bowls with some plastic cling-wrap on it. I do like to ensure that I can at least see into my refrigerator and see what's there. I like to open the door and be able to look through, whether it's through see-through Tupperware or those Pyrex bowls or just a simple bowl with some cling-wrap or Saran wrap on the top of it, that's kind of just how it works for me. So nothing too groundbreaking in terms of storage there, but I do think that-- I love Ziploc bags - I'm just kind of a regular girl that way - so those are the main things I would use in terms of vessels to store my prepared stuff in.
So I think those are my main answers to Christina's excellent questions. Thank you, Christina, for emailing me. If you are listening to this and you have a question for me, in terms of something you'd like me to spout off about in this podcast, I'd love to hear from you. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and I love kind of chatting in this way. Lately, as I mentioned, I've had a lot of interviews on the podcast, but it's kind of fun just to be able to sit in the saddle here and just chat with you a little bit. Actually, in real life, in person, I'm not an overly chatty person, so it's actually kind of fun to just sit here and talk to myself about these kinds of scintillating topics. So as always, thank you so much for being here with me and I really hope to hear from you soon.
You have been listening to The Raw Food Podcast with your host, the Rawtarian. Be sure to visit me at therawtarian.com, where you can browse over 100 of my absolute favorite simple, satisfying, raw, vegan recipes that you'll find pretty quick to make and with just a few ingredients and that taste amazing. While you're there, be sure to sign up for my newsletter, and once you've signed up for that, you'll automatically get a PDF copy of 11 of my most favorite, most satisfying, most delicious recipes, including raw, vegan alfredo sauce, raw brownies, and a whole host of other delicious recipes that you can make at home that are raw and taste amazing. Thank you so much for joining me, and I hope to hear from you very soon. And until next time, enjoy your raw adventure.
This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with like-minded, qualified health care professional(s). I wish you success on your raw journey!