As lockdown continues, the need to stay at home is still more important than ever. While shopping for food is deemed an essential activity, it’s something that we should do as little as possible. To make the most of those weekly supplies, look for ingredients that last longer and when you get them home to unpack, prolong their freshness with appliances that offer the latest food preserving technology and features. Along with advice on keeping your shopping fresh and flavoursome, we’ve also got plenty of ideas for batch cooking, making your meals go even further.
Fridge and Freezer Storage
The first thing to do is check the temperature of your fridge and freezer. The recommendation is a maximum of 5˚C for fridges and -18˚C for freezers. Consistency is key and while many models will fluctuate depending on the ambient room temperature surrounding them, Miele appliances will hold their temperature steady, keeping food fresh for longer.
For even longer life, fridges with Miele’s PerfectFresh Pro feature offer climate-controlled drawers that provide a lower temperature and humidity, which can be adjusted depending on the food stored inside. It’s ideal for meat, fruit, vegetables and dairy and can prolong their freshness up to five times’ more. Think cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, radishes and mushrooms and for fresh herbs, wash them first then wrap in damp kitchen roll to maintain their freshness and flavour. For greens such as spinach, kale or salad leaves, we recommend opening the bag first then storing in a fridge with PerfectFresh controlled humidity.
Think Outside the Box
It’s easy to assume that all fresh produce should be stored in the fridge but not every ingredient will benefit from being cold. Onions, garlic, ginger, potatoes and tomatoes all lose their flavour when refrigerated. This is due to the enzyme that gives them their taste, which breaks down when stored below 4˚C. All citrus fruits will also have a longer life if you store them at room temperature. Fruits that are often unripe when purchased, such as avocados, kiwis, pears and plums are also best kept at room temperature and then transferred to the fridge when ready to eat.
Certain store cupboard essentials have a really long shelf life and they can pack plenty of punch when used in pasta sauces and salads. Get a good supply of olives, capers and anchovies, and use in pasta sauces or blend into a tapenade and spread thinly on crackers, crusty bread or toasted sourdough. Miso paste also lasts pretty much forever and can really enhance the flavour of so many dishes. Add it to soup, make a marinade for oily fish such as salmon or use for salad dressings. Even preserves and jams can be added to cakes and biscuits as a partial substitute for sugar when baking.
Whether you’re storing food in the cupboard, fridge or freezer, vacuum packing it with Miele’s Sous-Vide Vacuum Drawer can be a great way to save space. Get rid of bulky tubs, tins and packets and you’ll also benefit from food that is completely sealed for maximum hygiene and longevity.
As well as keeping food fresh for longer and choosing ingredients with a long shelf life, another way to make meals go even further during lockdown is to batch cook. Set aside a few hours one afternoon, or a weekend morning and choose a few simple recipes that you are familiar with, such as a spaghetti bolognase sauce that can be used later in the week for lasagne or chilli. Using a basic recipe will make it easier if you’re trying to multiply it by two or three to make it go further.
Aim to plan a week of meals in advance and check the fridge, freezer and store cupboard before you head to the shops to make sure you’re not doubling up on ingredients. Other ideas include making a big batch of pesto or a curry paste, as these last for ages in the freezer. Just remember to label everything before you store with the name of the dish and the date it was made.
Using the Steam Oven
There are plenty of ways your appliances can lend a hand when preparing ahead for batch cooking. Blanch vegetables in a steam oven, as these can be fully cooked later on without turning soggy or discoloured in the fridge. The steam oven can also be used to defrost food directly from the freezer. Easy, fast and convenient, it requires minimal effort with no risk of burning or cooking the food. Simply select the ‘defrost’ programme from the control panel or manually choose the lowest temperature (40˚C) and if you wish to cook items such as a chicken breast or fish fillets afterwards, they will be ready in less than 30 minutes. Thanks to the low constant temperature, there is no need to turn halfway through either. Even delicate items such as tiger prawns can be cooked quickly with tasty results in the steam oven.
You can also use the appliance to reheat food quickly, with better results and flavour than if you’d used a microwave. When you want to reheat a plate with some cooked rice or lentils, a few roasted vegetables and maybe some meat that you’ve braised previously, place inside the steam oven, uncovered, and cook on 100˚C for no more than three or four minutes. You can also reheat more than one container at the same time.
If don’t have a steam oven you can still achieve great results with Miele’s Moisture Plus feature, which is perfect for reheating and rejuvenating food. Heat up food, uncovered at a low temperature, then add in as many as three bursts of steam to prevent the dish from drying out. Moisture Plus can also help to revive stale bread and will even reheat pizza.
Using the right appliances, planning ahead and storing ingredients in the optimum conditions will all help your meals go further, saving time and money too.