- Insider asked chefs and food-storage experts to explain the proper ways to store your favourite household snacks.
- They advised tightly sealing your packages for snacks like pretzels and beef jerky.
- Avoid keeping foods like nuts, chocolate, and granola bars near sources of light and heat.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
There’s nothing worse than reaching for a snack in your pantry only to discover it’s already gone bad. Specific foods require certain storing methods to stay fresh â€” and your favourite snacks are no different.
Insider asked several chefs and food-storage experts for their advice on how to properly store common snacks.
Read on for some mistakes that could be shortening the shelf life of 16 popular snacks.
If your pretzel bags aren’t sealed shut, your snack can quickly get stale.
According to Palak Patel, chef at the Institute of Culinary Education, the most common mistake when storing pretzels is not closing the package correctly. This exposes the pretzels to air and causes them to stale.
Patel said to store pretzels properly, remove all of the air from the original package, tightly roll the top half of the bag down to prevent air from getting in, and secure it with a rubber band or clip.
You may want to try storing your chips in the freezer.
Most people don’t know that you shouldn’t keep your potato chips in the pantry.
Kelvin Fernandez, chef at the Institute of Culinary Education, said the best thing you can do for your chips is to put them in a plastic bag and store them in the freezer.
Rebekah Ziesmer, development chef with Conagra Brands, said storing sealed bags of chips in the freezer will keep the snack food fresh and crispy.
When you’re ready to enjoy, just take a bag out of the freezer and place it on the counter for a few minutes until the chips are room temperature.
Nuts also belong in the freezer.
Nuts are rich with essential oils, and Patel said humidity, heat, and light can rapidly degrade those oils. Storing nuts in warm places, such as near the oven or stove, can cause nuts to go rancid.
It might be time to toss your fruit bowl.
“Most people put fruit in a bowl, but I prefer to keep fruit in a basket so it can breathe,” Mullen said.
As a bonus hack, Mullen said you can also toss a dry wine cork in the basket to absorb excess moisture and keep away fruit flies.
Don’t put your crackers in plastic bags.
Ziesmer said a common mistake is storing crackers in resealable plastic bags.
“Plastic storage bags are permeable to air and moisture, so they won’t keep crackers as crisp,” Ziesmer told Insider.
Instead, store your leftover crackers in airtight, sealable containers.
Leaving your vegetables inside plastic produce bags can cause them to go bad.
According to Fernandez, keeping your vegetables inside the plastic bag can make veggies spoil faster.
Other common mistakes are storing vegetables together with fruit or cleaning your produce before you’re actually ready to use it, Fernandez said.
For leafy greens, it’s important to keep them dry. An easy storage hack is to divide even layers of lettuce with paper towels in a sealable container. Celery, on the other hand, needs moisture to stay fresh; so, wrap it in aluminium foil and keep it in the fridge.
Don’t keep your ice cream in the freezer door.
Patel said you should avoid keeping your ice cream in the freezer door because it’s exposed to warm air every time the door is opened.
Mullen said to instead place your ice cream in the coldest parts of your freezer like the main compartment or, better yet, the bottom shelf.
Yogurt should be tightly covered, not stored in an open or loosely-sealed container.
Patel said covering yogurt too loosely or storing it in an opening container exposes the food to refrigerator air and dries it out.
Ziesmer told Insider you should keep the foil or lid that your yogurt came with and reuse it to seal the container.
You may be wrapping your cheese too tightly.
“I often see cheese stored unwrapped and/or wrapped too tightly,” Patel said. “Cheese develops moisture when it is wrapped too tightly and develops mould and bacteria on the surface.”
Instead, Ziesmer and Mullen suggested using beeswax wrap or parchment paper – both are made with materials that allow the cheese to breathe properly and contain the smell.
Opened chocolate shouldn’t be stored in the fridge.
Jean Apostolou, chef chocolatier at Godiva, told Insider that chocolate shouldn’t be stored in the refrigerator.
Chocolate tends to absorb the odours that surround it, so the strong flavours and smells prevalent in your fridge may taint the taste.
Apostolou said open packages of chocolate can be stored in the pantry as long as temperatures don’t exceed 65 degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer, it’s best to place your chocolate in the fridge in a sealed bag or container.
Make sure to properly seal your beef jerky.
Patel said a common mistake is storing beef jerky in plastic bags or not fully sealing the package it came in.
“While jerky is dried and salted to preserve it, the amount of fat indicates how long it retains freshness,” she said. “The leaner the meat, the shorter the shelf life.”
Instead, Patel said it’s ideal to store beef jerky in an airtight container. Fernandez added that jerky should go in a cool, dark place, but you shouldn’t keep the snack in your fridge.
You shouldn’t keep your candy near sunlight.
Storing your candy in warm areas or in sunlight can cause the sugar in the candy to melt from the heat and moisture, Patel said.
Instead, she said it’s best to store candy in a cool, dark place inside of a tight-fitting container made of plastic or glass.
Don’t keep your granola bars in resealable plastic bags.
Granola often contains temperature-sensitive foods like nuts, seeds, chocolate, and dried fruit; so, Patel said you don’t want to store your granola bars in resealable plastic bags.
“The best way to store granola bars is in a large airtight glass jar, in a cool, dry place or in its original wrapping,” Patel said.
You should store your cookies with a slice of bread.
You should always store cookies in an airtight container to keep them from drying out, but McManus recommended packing them with a slice of bread to keep the treat fresh and chewy for longer.
Patel added that you should also wait for freshly-baked cookies to completely cool down before storing, or the condensation from the heat can make them soggy.
Avoid cutting your brownies unless you’re ready to eat them.
Cutting your brownies before storing them is a major mistake, according to Ziesmer.
“Only cut what you’ll eat,” Ziesmer told Insider. “Uncut brownies will stay fresh a couple of days longer than cut brownies at room temperature.”
She also added that you should cover your brownies tightly with plastic wrap.
Popcorn shouldn’t be stored in a pantry.
Ziesmer said ready-to-eat popcorn can get stale or chewy soon after it’s opened, especially in humid environments. To keep the snack food fresh, she recommended storing leftover popcorn in a sealed bag in the freezer.
When you’re ready to snack, you can eat the popcorn straight from the freezer.
She also told Insider that microwave popcorn or popcorn kernels can be stored in the freezer – keeping them fresh means fewer unpopped kernels.