Fresh fish is best eaten on the day it arrives, but if you do need to store it, here’s what to do. Remove your fish from its packaging, lay it on a plate, cover with cling film or a tea towel and store in the coolest part of your fridge (usually the bottom) below 4ºC. Eat within two days.
Store smoked fish just like wet fish. It will last longer, 3-4 days. Where vacuum-packed smoked fish has its own storage and use-by instructions on it, follow these instead.
Most fresh fish freezes really well and it's always best to freeze on day of purchase. We wouldn't recommend freezing oily fish like mackerel or sardines, or shellfish other than prawns.
To freeze your fish, remove it from the packaging and wrap it in cling film and then tin foil or a sealed freezer bag. It's not always possible to expel all of the air and a layer of cling film helps prevent freezer burn. This will keep moisture in and freezer burn out.
We recommend freezing fish in meal-size portions so you can unfreeze just what you need, and labelling each package with the type of fish, weight or portion size and date of packaging. Eat within two months.
Live crab, lobster, crayfish and prawns will keep live under a damp (but not wet) cloth in a cold fridge for 1-2 days. They are best cooked as soon as possible and, once cooked, kept refrigerated and eaten within 1-2 days.
Mussels, clams, cockles and whelks will also keep live under a damp (but not wet) cloth in a cold fridge for 1-2 days. They are best cooked as soon as possible and, once cooked, kept refrigerated and eaten within 1-2 days. Always discard any which don't close when you're cleaning them (tap the shells on a hard surface if in doubt). Once cooked, dispose of any which haven't opened during cooking.
Oysters will keep for up to a week in a cold fridge, round side down.
The cheese round here doesn't usually stick around long enough to need storing but if we can keep our mitts off it, we follow the expert advice of La Fromagerie founder, Patricia Michelson. You'll be amazed how fresh the cheese stays. Patricia says she has kept harder cheeses for up to three weeks successfully, although softer varieties will only last up to a week.
Here's what she recommends:
- Follow the saying ‘little and often' when it comes to buying cheese.
- Keep cheeses looking and tasting better by wrapping them in waxed kitchen paper.
- Place cut pieces of cheese in a plastic container with a tightly fitting lid and a lightly dampened tea towel or cloth on the bottom. Don't put blue cheeses in the same box as other cheeses; they should be kept separate to prevent the blue moulds spreading. Before closing the box, pop in a few sugar cubes which will act as natural preservatives, preventing the growth of moulds and holding back oxidization, as well as distributing the humidity in the sealed box and preventing bacteria growing in the confined atmosphere.
- To serve, unwrap the pieces and place on a wooden board, then cover with a clean damp cloth and leave to come to room temperature (30-60 minutes depending on how warm or cool the room is).
- To learn more, order your copy of ‘Cheese' here - Patricia will sign and dedicate copies on request!
The meat you buy from your local butcher won’t come packaged in plastic pumped with chemicals to extend its shelf life and preserve the appearance of freshness like meat bought from the supermarket. Meat of this quality should always be unwrapped and stored as butchers advise. Here are Ginger Pig’s expert tips for storing meat at home.
Store meat in the bottom of your fridge. This is the coldest part of the fridge and reduces the risk of cross-contamination too.
Raw meat does NOT love plastic. If your order comes wrapped in plastic, unwrap it as soon as it arrives as plastic can speed the growth of bacteria. If you've got space in the fridge, put your meat on a plate at the bottom, not touching any other foods. Otherwise, put meat on some kitchen roll in a clean container and cover loosely with more kitchen roll or a clean tea towel.
Rough storage times:
- Sausages: 2 days
- Mince: 2 days
- Diced meat: 2 days
- Chicken pieces: 2 days
- Whole chicken: 2-3 days
- Steaks: 3-5 days
- Roasts (boned and rolled): 2-3 days
- Roasts (bone in): 3-4 days
- Bacon (raw): 5 days
- Sliced cooked ham: 2-3 days
- Cured meats (ready to eat): 1 week
- Freeze in meal-size portions so you only need to defrost the amount you need. Use good quality, strong plastic bags and wrap tightly in cling film before you put the meat in a bag. It's not always possible to expel all of the air and a layer of cling film helps prevent freezer burn. Label each package with the name of cut, weight or portion size and date of packaging for extra brownie points.
- Frozen meat should ideally be eaten within a month, three at the most.
- It takes a bit of planning but the best way to thaw frozen meat is in the fridge. A large roasting joint will take 4-7 hours per 500g. A smaller roast like a rack of lamb will take 3-5 hours per 500g. Steaks (about 3cm thick) will take about 12 hours or overnight.
Cured meats that are sliced to order (and pre-packaged cured meats once opened) are best enjoyed on the day they arrive.
Deli meats are cured in salt, a natural preservative. This means they keep well, but they will start to lose their colour and dry out once they've been exposed to the air.
Keep cured meats refrigerated in the packaging they arrive in and enjoy within 2-3 days. After that, they'll still be delicious to cook with for up to a week.
The best bread we sell from small independent bakeries contains just four simple ingredients and nothing else; flour, water, yeast and a pinch of salt. No artificial additives, longer fermentation and high quality ingredients mean this phenomenal bread beats even the best loaves sold by the supermarkets hands down.
We sometimes say we sell “bread so good it goes off” – if the bread you usually buy from the supermarket doesn’t, ask yourself why. Here are some tips to help you enjoy your bread at its best.
- Keep fresh bread at room temperature, out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dry place. Storing it in the fridge draws out the moisture which will make it go stale faster.
- Artisanal bread is best stored in a paper bag which keeps the bread wrapped up without creating the pesky moisture which can lead to mould. For this reason, avoid plastic bags. In the absence of a paper bag, loosely wrap in a clean tea towel.
- Protect the cut end of a loaf with foil to stop it going hard (even if you're storing it in a paper bag).
- Make friends with your bread bin; looking after fresh bread is what they’re for!
- Avoid keeping different loaves in the same bag; if one loaf goes mouldy it will contaminate the rest faster.
- If you struggle to get through a whole loaf, slice it and freeze in a sealed, labelled freezer bag as soon as possible (after munching on some with lots of butter of course!). That way you’ll just need to pop slices in the toaster as and when you need them.