About this module
Maintaining a good practice for cooking and storing your ingredients is key, particularly when you’re running a business! In this module, we share important tips on keeping your ingredients fresh, what to look out for to avoid contamination, and other vital criteria to keep in mind when preparing food.
Today most ingredients, if not all, come with clear storage instructions on their labels. It is simple enough to follow the instructions and make sure it is safe for consumption, but have you ever wondered why some ingredients must be chilled, and why some can be kept at room temperature? Also, how does it affect the final product?
In this topic, I will help you understand the best practices for storing your ingredients and help you ensure fresh and ready supplies for baking.
As a business, proper storage of baking ingredients help to maintain the quality of end products, hence improving your reputation, and to save cost. This is done by maintaining the quality of ingredients and increasing its shelf life. There are certain products that are designed for a longer shelf life, and can be stored in ambient temperature, such as the Anchor Tinned Butter for bakers who have chiller space limitations.
To ensure the quality, we look at its taste, texture and appearance. The taste of an ingredient will affect the quality of the end products.
For example, nuts for multigrain breads have an unpleasant taste if not stored properly in an airtight container, or left in a warm area for too long.
This is due to the oxidation of fats in the nuts when exposed to light, heat and air.
The texture could be described as soft or hard, crunchy or mushy, and other textures depending on the type of ingredient.
For example, fresh fruits such as strawberries used as toppings and fillings, when received fresh would be crisp and have a nice crunch, but if stored in the freezer, would become soft and lose its texture once thawed.
This is due to the ice crystals forming in the plant cells causing it to rupture and lose its shape and form.
A key attribute of the appearance of products is colour.
Similarly, when decorative fruits such as apples and kiwi are cut or sliced and left open at room temperature, the colour changes.
This is due to enzymatic browning, or oxidation reaction that occurs from cut fruits exposed to oxygen in the air.
Today most baking ingredients are packaged and labeled with instructions for best ways of storage to maintain its quality.
Best before dates indicate the time when it is at its best quality of flavour, texture and appearance.
Dry ingredients such as baking powder, dried fruits and chocolate chips that have passed their best before dates may be safe to eat, but the quality will start to degrade.
You will find two different storage instructions for before and after opening a package.
Once the seal is open, it is exposed to air and oxygen, which can deteriorate the quality faster as it oxidation occurs.
Packaging labels have made it easy to follow and store to maintain optimal quality.
In the case where there are no instructions, the general rule is to keep dry ingredients at room temperature, and ingredients with higher moisture content such as milk, cream and fruit compote in the refrigerator.
Stick to the principle of First In, First Out (FIFO), when using baking ingredients, which means the old supplies are used before the new stock.
One way to do this, is by arranging the older stock in front, and newer stock at the back.
This is a common practice throughout the food industry to use ingredients before the quality deteriorates.
The moment when food is no longer safe to eat, it will lead to its disposal, which is an unnecessary cost. To minimise these costs, there are ways to reduce food spoilage and increase shelf life.
Bacteria is the cause for food spoilage. To reduce this, we need to look at what causes bacteria growth. There are six things that cause bacteria to grow, and you can remember it by the abbreviation FATTOM: Food, Acidity, Time, Temperature, Oxygen, and Moisture.
Bacteria need food to grow. Especially those high in proteins, carbohydrates and nutrients, such as dairy products, meat and poultry.
These are considered high risk foods and must take extra precautions during storage.
Bacteria grow best at the pH of 6.0 to 7.5. Examples of ingredients in this pH range include eggs, milk and cream, which is where proper storage is needed.
Most dairy products fall into this category and needs to be stored in lower temperatures. There are certain products that are designed for longer shelf life and could be stored at ambient temperature such as the Anchor Tinned Butter.
The more time there is, the quicker the bacteria multiplies. Use by dates are present to indicate when the food is spoiled and unsafe to consume.
Therefore pay attention to the dates on the packaging labels and use up the ingredients before its use by dates.
Temperature. This also occurs when food is not stored at the correct temperature, especially between 5°C to 60°C, which is called the temperature danger zone for bacteria growth.
Similar to humans, most bacteria also need oxygen to survive.
Which is why some foods are kept in an airtight container for longer shelf life.
Keep in mind that ingredients have different storage conditions especially before and after opening a sealed product packet.
As bacteria needs moisture to grow, foods high in moisture content generally spoils faster.
When comparing dry ingredients such as oats and seeds, to those high in moisture such as cheese and cream generally spoil faster if stored in the same conditions.
This is where proper storage of ingredients can increase the shelf life.
In conclusion, it is important to understand the different food storage temperatures for each type of baking ingredients, to maintain its freshness which helps to produce a good quality baked product. Food must be stored safely and at the right temperatures to avoid contamination and food wastage.