Oxygen is good, right? That element is so vital to life, we simply would not exist for long without it. Sometimes, however, a good thing can also wreak havoc. Pause right there and think of that adorable, untrained puppy and the damage and destruction it can cause if left to its own devices.
So it is with the air around us. Oxygen is an extremely reactive element — with the power to bind to other substances in good and bad ways. For example, when air comes into prolonged contact with many foodstuffs, the process of oxidation occurs and the end result is spoilage, degradation of nutrients, discoloration and/or impairment of flavor.
That is why it is so important to store perishable items in airtight containers. By locking out external oxygen, freshness and shelf-life are preserved for much longer than they would be if left exposed to air. A whole host of products benefit from being stored in air-tight receptacles. For many, it is absolutely imperative that they are kept in airtight containers.
Of course, food items are not the only products that need to be stored in airtight containers. Medications are non-food items that need to be stored in airtight containers. There are proprietary containers available for storing medicines, but you can also use small, freezer storage containers.
Below, we list seven items, in no particular order, that you need to keep in airtight receptacles:
1) Coffee Beans
Many people believe coffee beans should be stored in the fridge/freezer, but coffee beans should be stored at room temperature in opaque, airtight containers. This keeps out moisture and air, and preserves the freshness of the beans for optimum flavor. After all, that is the reason why we drink coffee. Vacuum-sealed, stainless steel containers work very well.
2) Uncooked Rice
Rice needs protection from moisture and odors. Clear, plastic containers with pouring spouts are ideal. You can also purchase electronic rice storage containers. They even measure out rice portions for you. How is that for convenience?
Flours of all type must be stored in airtight containers to keep out odors, air and moisture. In the absence of a dedicated storage container, the bag of flour can be placed inside a zip-loc bag. Just make sure to press out all excess air before sealing fully.
4) Dried Beans, Lentils and Grains
Stainless steel, airtight canisters are very good for storing dried beans, lentils and grains. Canisters with rubber gaskets work brilliantly to keep in freshness and lock out air and moisture.
Sugar is a hydroscopic substance, which means it has the ability to attract moisture. As such, sugar should be stored in an airtight container to stop it from forming hard clumps.
6) Dried Fruits
Dried fruits should not mean hard fruits, so they should be stored in airtight containers to retain flavor and prevent the fruits from becoming tough and inedible.
7) Dried Herbs and Spices
The whole point of using herbs and spices is to add flavor and aroma to your favorite recipes. If the herbs and spices are not stored in properly sealed containers, they will quickly lose their piquancy and aroma. Airtight containers also prevent them from taking on the odors of neighboring spices on the spice shelf.
Useful Airtight Containers
Airtight containers include plastic tubs and jars made from food-grade plastic, sealed metal containers and glass repositories. The Oxo Good Grips range of storage containers are very popular.
For optimum storage life, you should use containers that have a hermetic/airtight seal. These include:
– Foil pouches
– PETE bottles: useful for storing dry products like beans, corn and wheat
– # 10 cans
– Food storage buckets with seal-able lids
– Food quality plastic bins/drums and lined metal containers with seal-able lids
Ultimately, airtight containers lock out air, moisture and insects, thus retaining nutrients and keeping foodstuffs fresher for longer. After we have spent our hard-earned money on groceries, it makes sense to store perishables in airtight containers.