How To Keep Your Food Safe This Monsoon
There are many reasons to celebrate monsoon – cooler temperatures, hot chai and pakodas, lush outdoors and more. However, this season does bring its share of food troubles – mostly in the unpleasant form of mould, fungus, worms and spoilage. While mould spores and bacteria are around all the time, they seem to thrive in the moist and humid conditions that monsoons create. Refrigerators can also be a hotbed for mould if not kept clean or set at an optimum temperature.
If you want to reduce food spoilage this season or are wondering why your food is getting mouldy even in the fridge, this blog post can help you! We’ve outlined a few tips to help you enjoy your food longer and avoid food wastage this season.
Grains & Pulses
Adding a few neem leaves to rice, pulses and wheat can help keep worms at bay. Tying camphor in cloth and placing in your rice jars is also said to be very effective at repelling bugs.
Store all your grains in airtight containers. Spread them out in the sun every 10 days or so, microwave for a few mins and let cool before closing them up again.
Dry roast suji and dalia and store in the refrigerator. For ground flours like atta and maida, place a few bay leaves in their containers. Bay leaves will absorb moisture and prevent spoilage.
Sugar & Salt
Both these essentials tend to get sticky and clumpy during the rains. It’s best to store them in glass containers, away from any dampness. Adding a few cloves or uncooked rice grains to the containers also helps absorb moisture.
To rid moisture from clumpy flavoured salts, like Himalayan Haat’s herbed pink salts, you can spread them out and either microwave for a minute or pop in the oven on low heat. Once cool, consider swapping to airtight containers instead of shakers while the rains last.
Whole & Ground Spices
Bay leaves can be put with cardamom, pepper, cumin and other spices to help absorb moisture. Sun-dry or microwave chillies before storing them in air-tight jars. Add salt to dried tamarind and a few cloves to chilli powder to prevent clumping. It’s a good idea to store all ground masalas in the refrigerator.
Bread & Bakery Products
Bread tends to get mouldy very quickly during the rains. Buy only what you need and can finish in a day or two. If you do need to store bread, wrap and place it in the refrigerator. Check each slice for any signs of mould or fungus and toast well before consuming.
Biscuits and chips get terribly soggy during the rains. Wrap such items in blotting paper and store in dry containers. Open packets of biscuits or chips can be stored in the fridge. You can pop them in the microwave for a minute or so before consuming.
Wash fresh vegetables well and dry before wrapping in newspaper and putting in cloth produce bags in the fridge.
Unused rotis should be wrapped in newspaper or beeswax paper. Let leftovers cool at room temperature before placing in airtight containers in the fridge or at least keep covered. Use within a day or two. Leftovers should be heated just once and used.
Jams, Sauces & Spreads
Preservative-free and natural jams and sauces – including Himalayan Haat’s preserves, sauces and coolers – need to be refrigerated immediately after opening. Unopened bottles should be stored in a cool, dry place. Make sure that you use a clean, dry spoon each time you dip into the jar – wet or dirty spoons will bring contamination and mould.
Moreover, if your fridge is not clean, has other mouldy food, or is not set to an optimum temperature, mould spores can travel to your jam and sauce jars, too.
How To Ensure That Your Fridge Is Monsoon Ready
- Keep your fridge clean. Food must always be kept covered. Keep checking for signs of spoilt food and toss any old leftovers out regularly. If you see something that’s mouldy on a shelf, chances are the mould will spread to other items if not removed.
- Make sure that you don’t overfill your fridge. It’s key that air is allowed to circulate.
- Ensure that your refrigerator is cool enough, i.e. set to a temperature below 5°C.
- Keep different kinds of food in different compartments or on different shelves. This will reduce any chance of contamination.
- Raw meat, poultry and seafood should be kept frozen. Take care to ensure that water from meat or fish doesn’t drip onto other food.
Are there other tried-and-tested tips that help you keep food safe during monsoon? Do share them with us in the comments section.