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How to store milk, paneer and other dairy products the right way

No more sour milk or funny-tasting yogurt! Here are some sure-shot tips.

There is rarely an Indian household that can do without dairy products in their diet. Whether young or old, milk is an essential drink for both; yogurt is a constant part of the diet, paneer is the best source of protein one can get from vegetarian food and cheese makes the best filling/ topping for your sandwiches and pasta. Indian diet devoid of ghee and butter is unthinkable. But most of the times, we fail to preserve these products the right way to benefit from its nutritional value. Know how consumption of high-fat dairy products reduces risk of diabetes.

So here is your guide to store your dairy products the right way and reap their benefits.

1. Milk

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milkHow to store it:

  • Before buying store bought milk always check the best-before date. Try and pick the ones that have the longest shelf life.
  • If you are buying unpasteurised milk, refrigerate it as soon as you get home.
  • While using milk follow the thumb rule of first in the fridge, first to come out, so that the oldest packet is used before its expiry date.
  • If you are buying tetra-pack milk, remember they are safe to consume within the first three days after the seal is broken. So don t buy them in bulk. Instead buy what is needed and buy often. Read to know if toned milk is healthier than whole milk.
  • The container that you use to boil milk, make sure is clean and washed thoroughly to avoid milk going rancid. To preserve the nutrients of the milk keep it in the same container till it is all over.
  • Avoid reheating the milk every two to three hours to preserve the nutrients. Instead set aside the milk you need to consume and heat it before consumption. Store the rest of the milk in the fridge. Always store the milk on the shelves and not the door. This will ensure that your milk stays cool and safe for a longer period. If refrigerated correctly, your milk can stay fresh for up to five days.
  • With tetra pack milk or canned milk, pour it in an airtight plastic container and store it the same way.
  • Refrigerate leftover milk and don t put it back in the original container.
  • In case you wish to refrigerate milk, you can freeze them for up to six weeks without compromising its nutritional value. However, partly skimmed and skimmed milk are good for refrigeration over whole milk. Here are the pros and cons of whole milk.
  • If you buy farm fresh milk, which is raw with all the bioactive factors in it, refrigerate it right after you get it from the farm. Remember, milk can go rancid and turn sour in hot weather.

Remember milk is a perishable commodity and it is best to use it as soon as you open the packet.

2. Yoghurt

curd1How to store:

  • Store bought yogurt needs to be refrigerated on the shelves and not the doors and use within the best before date.
  • Every time you need yogurt, use a spoon to take the required amount and refrigerate the rest.
  • Keep a lid over the bowl or the container so it is saved from strong odours of other foods.
  • Always use a fresh spoon to take out yogurt to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Avoid refrigerating yogurt as it could alter its nutritional value.
  • In any case try and use the yogurt within three days after opening the package or once you make it at home.

3. Paneer or cottage cheese

paneerHow to store:

  • If you buy a paneer block from the market, wrap it in a wet muslin cloth and keep it in the fridge.
  • If you are planning to store paneer for long, you will have to moisten the muslin cloth every four to five hours as refrigeration tends to steal away the surface moisture.
  • In case you don t have a muslin cloth, submerge the paneer block in a bowl of water and close the lid. Put the bowl in the fridge that will keep it moistened and soft. If you wish to store paneer for a longer period, remember to change the water every day. You can store homemade paneer the same way. However, don t refrigerate paneer for more than two or three days.
  • If you buy packaged paneer, keep the pack in the fridge and take it out at least 30 minutes before you start cooking. Alternatively, dip the packet or the paneer cubes directly in a bowl of warm water to make it soft and moistened.

4. Cheese

cheeseHow to store

  • How to store your cheese depends on the type of cheese you buy. The harder the cheese, the longer it stays in your fridge.
  • Refrigerate the cheese in the original wrap. Cut the chunk you need to use and put the remaining block back in the fridge.
  • Keep semi-hard cheese like cheddar and swiss cheese in plastic wraps.
  • Mozzarella or feta can be kept in water (like paneer) for refrigeration. However, be sure to change the water often if you plan to store these for too long.
  • With cheese, always try to store the hard ones in the vegetable section where the temperature is stable and always cool.
  • Use all your cheese within the best before date.

5. Ghee

gheeHow to store

  • Homemade or store bought ghee when stored and preserved the right way can stay fresh for decades even at room temperature.
  • Use glass jars with airtight lids to store ghee. In fact, opaque and coloured glass containers are the best to store ghee. These jars prevent the ghee from harmful ultraviolet rays.
  • While using ghee, make sure you use a clean and dry spoon. Any moisture that enters the container can make the ghee go rancid. To avoid cross contamination, avoid using an unclean spoon.
  • Store bought ghee usually comes in plastic or tin containers. Each time you use ghee remember to tighten the lid of the container. And avoid reusing the containers. They aren t meant to be reused.
  • Keep your ghee jars in a kitchen cabinet away from direct sunlight as it can make them go rancid. Alternatively, you can also refrigerate the ghee for over six months if you have to.

6. Butter

butterHow to store:

  • If you are to refrigerate your butter, keep it in its original wrapper. The foil is specially prepared to keep the butter protected from air, light and other foods in the fridge.
  • However, if kept in an airtight container with its wrapper on, you can keep the butter on your kitchen counter too.
  • High temperature during summer can make your butter melt and become liquidy so that some refrigeration might help. Else, keeping it on the counter, knowing that you will finish it off within its best before' date will also be good.
  • Use a clean butter spoon each time to take butter to avoid cross contamination.

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