Sunday, December 31, 2006

Time to clean out the fridge

The holiday parties are just about over and you have a refrigerator full of left overs.Just how long do you hang on to the stuff? Should it go in the freezer? How long can I keep it in the freezer?

I don't know about you but I have a jar of olives in the fridge that are at least two years old. They're little grren ones with pimento stuffed in the middle. They've been there so long I think they actually belong to the fridge. If I take them out they may upset the balance of the west coast! We long forgot about them and no one in their right mind would even open the jar, much less eat them. They look brand new, I am sure they are probably fine to eat, but no is going to take the chance. No. One. So I think it's time they went to the happy hunting ground and give up the space in the fridge.

Just how long can something be kept in the refrigerator or freezer? Surprisingly, not long in the refrigerator, longer in the freezer, but some things should never be frozen. Let's take my favorite ingredient as a for instance: Eggs. Those wonders! You can do so much with them, but how should you treat them while you're waiting to use them up? Pretty much everyone knows about salmonella and eggs. They do need to be in the fridge. They'll stay fresh between three and five weeks refrigerated. Eggs in the shell should not be frozen. (that's not to say, they haven't ever been frozen while in your too cold fridge!) However, if you remove them from the shell, the yolks and whites are good in the refrigerator 2-4 days, but they'll last a whole year in the freezer! That's incredible. Remember if you have a surplus of eggs, remove them from their shells and freeze them. Label them by date and rotate them out.

Eggs are best if you can buy them fresh. I highly suspect eggs from the store any more. I think most of them are already 3 weeks old when you purchase them and then you have a short time line to use them. I shudder to think of the televised reports of stores taking them out of the carton and replacing them in new cartons! Yikes.

Boiled eggs don't freeze well at all, but they'll be good for a week in the fridge. That means you can boil up a batch and use them all week for snacks or salads. Keep that in mind when doing your new resolution meal planning.

Egg substitutes will be good for 10 days unopened or a year if frozen. Opened - just 2 to 4 days. Yikes, better use those quick!

Then there's the egg by-product mayonaise. It's good for two months opened (commercial brands) in the fridge and don't even think about freezing it. Better yet - make your own! It's so much better tasting and you can make just what you need then you don't have a storage problem.

Recipe for mayonnaise:

1 egg, yolk only
1 cup light olive oil, use canola if you don't have the olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

This will give you a basic mayonnaise. If you prefer to flavor it with other flavors, such as, mustard or dill, go for it.

In your blender, whir together the egg yolk and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice add a dash of salt and a bit of pepper. With the blender on slowly add the oil in a small stream until it is blended well. It doesn't take alot of practice, but you do need to pour that oil slowly. You can also blend your ingredient by hand with a wisk if you'd like. If you do choose to blend by hand, make sure you only add a few drops of oil at a time!

Once blended, add lemon juice, salt and pepper to adjust flavor to your liking. You'll probably want to make your own from there on, it's so good.

If you need to really clean out the fridge and want more info on storage lengths and effectiveness go to the Partnership for Food Safety site and there are all kinds of tips and information available to make the job that much easier.