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Kitchen Storage Containers
The importance of good kitchen storage cannot be overestimated for keeping ingredients fresh. Airtight storage is essential for some goods but not for others. Fitness for purpose rather than appearance is the golden rule when considering storage containers. It is worth investing in a few specialized containers for important items such as bread and flour.
Some foods come in their own storage containers and, provided these are suitable, there is no reason why they should not remain in them. Dried herbs, for instance, are often sold in airtight cartons. Although you might feel herb racks look attractive, glass containers are less suitable as light destroys herb flavors.
The right thing in the right place is the second rule. Sifters for sugar and flour, a pepper mill and salt box, a jug or box of spoons and spatulas should be within easy reach while cooking.
This is essential for keeping bread in good condition. Bins can be made of earthenware, enameled metal, stainless steel or plastic. Bread bins need not be airtight; some ventilation is helpful. They must, however, be kept scrupulously clean. If mold occurs, wash the bin and wipe it out with a damp cloth wrung out in vinegar.
This must be airtight to avoid the danger of contamination. As flour has a relatively short shelf life, never put new flour on top of old. Empty the container and wash and dry it before refilling.
There are numbers of attractive sets of matching containers on sale, but it is Cheaper and equally effective to use the jars and bottles in which you buy some goods, such as instant coffee jars and screw-top jam jars, for storing other goods. Screw-top bottles are handy for decanting bulk-bought orange juice and cooking oils. Always wash and dry containers carefully before re-use.
Glass jars with cork lids look decorative on a shelf but are not airtight and should only be used for pasta and pulses, for which this does not matter. Do not allow liquids or grease to come into contact with the cork, or they will seep in and eventually destroy the lid.
There are two types of plastic container. The flexible type with snap-on lids are excellent for all kinds of storage, particularly for the refrigerator or freezer. For freezing buy the extra tough kind, specially made for this purpose. Treated carefully these containers give many years' service. Store them with the lids off, and wash and dry them thoroughly after use, so that the plastic does not retain food smells. Brittle plastic containers are seldom airtight and so are best kept for pulses and similar foods where this is not important. Transparent containers, like glass, have the advantage that you can see at a glance when they need to be replenished.
Tins come in a wide range of sizes and colors, and offer reasonably airtight storage. Take care not to scratch the patterned exterior and not to drop them or they will dent.
For coffee beans and for cakes and biscuits, tins must be airtight or the contents will rapidly deteriorate and biscuits soften. Test if the tins you own are suitable by leaving two or three plain biscuits in them for four days. Then check to see if these have become soft.