How to organize…how to store food – oil, nuts and spices

We’re moving a wonderful family in the east bay, and during the pre-move preparations, I went through their kitchen cabinets to see what would be packed and what would be tossed.  In the toss pile went a half dozen bottles of various oils that have gone rancid, along with dozens of bottles of herbs and spices that are several years (if not decades) old.  And bags of opened crackers, chips, cookies and cereals that have gone stale.  Here’s my advice, as a professional chef, on how to store food, specifically oils, nuts and spices.

All cooking and salad oils go rancid.  Some faster than others.  Nut oils turn the fastest but olive oil and seed oils also turn fast if not properly stored.

Store nut and seed oils, especially walnut, avocado and sesame seed, in the refrigerator.  They will thicken and sometimes turn cloudy, but that does not affect the flavor in use.  Otherwise, store oils in a cool and dark space.

Buy the smallest sized bottles, not the giant ones, of oils you do not use every day.

Bottled or boxed herbs and spices that have been opened lose their flavor in about 3 – 6 months.  Store ALL nuts and seeds in the freezer – especially sesame seeds.  Buy these items in the smallest quantities you need and store in airtight containers, preferably in a drawer.

Have you noticed that your family will open a bag of chips, eat some and then toss them into a kitchen cabinet, only to then open ANOTHER bag of the same thing, rather than finish off the previous one?  Snack foods like, crackers, cookies and cereals need to be sealed and put in airtight containers, after use, to keep them crisp.  I use these clips from IKEA to close up bags before putting them in my airtights.

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