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April 7 is World Health Day and this year s theme is Food Safety.
Cold cuts are pre-cooked or marinated meat that come in handy to prepare a non-vegetarian meal in minutes. They are the best options for quick bites like sandwiches and burgers or other such easy preparations. However, like every food item cold cuts also have a limited shelf-life and can perish soon if not stored properly. So if you are someone who loves to have cold-cuts stocked in your kitchen and make a meal out of it in minutes here are few tips you need to follow:
1. Store them in air-tight containers: Cold cuts whether cooked or pre-cooked usually come in a vacuum packaging from the store. Once you open the pack, there are chances of contamination as it comes in contact with oxygen. If you aren t going to use the entire pack make sure you store the rest of the unused meat in an air-tight container. This will reduce the chances of oxygenation and further contamination. Moreover, keeping your cold cuts out in open for too long can also increase the changes of bacterial contamination due to the changes in temperature. Here is how your kitchen container could make you sick.
2. Wrap them in aluminium foils: In case you don t have an airtight container the next best thing would be to wrap the cold cuts in aluminium foils tightly. Wrap them in such a way that there isn t any chance of air getting to the meat. Fold all the corners twice. Remember cold cuts lose their freshness once the packaging is opened so remember to use the extra meat within three days of storing it. Here are four ways in which our foods get contaminated before they reach our plate.
3. Store them in meat sections: Your refrigerator would have a certain section to store meat and cold cuts. Make it a point to put the meat in that particular section because those areas are set to a particular temperature which will keep the meat from going rancid. In case you don t have a separate meat section store it in the freezer or keep it at the back end of the refrigerator shelf where it can stay cold. Here are five tips to keep the fridge well organised.
4. Don t add extra preservatives: Packed cold cuts (pre-cooked or marinated) are loaded with preservatives, mostly sodium nitrate which helps to prevent bacterial contamination. However, the flipside is that the nitrate can combine with the amines in the meat to produce more carcinogenic compounds that could lead to oral or stomach cancer, suggest studies. It is best to use them before their expiry date. In case if you add more preservatives like lemon juice, vinegar or salt, chances are your cold cuts would be prone to more chemical reactions than otherwise. Here is why you should consume your packaged foods before they reach their expiry date.
5. Preserve raw meat correctly: If you want to preserve raw meat make sure you wash them properly first and clean the blood, dirt and grime from it. It is a good practice. Raw blood on your meat just ensures that you meat remain unclean for a longer period of time in the freezer whose consequences might not be good for your health. So clean your raw poultry and drain the water well. Next, store it in an airtight container or a steel vessel but make sure it stays covered. You can also store it in a sealable plastic bag and keep it in the freezer. Preferably use the stored raw meat within two days of storage. Here are 13 simple cooking hacks to make your food healthier.
6. Storing after marinating: Most of the time marination of raw meat is done to make it easier to cook the next day. However, marinating meat the right way is essential in this case. The first step is to wash the raw poultry thoroughly to avoid contamination during marination. Add to your meat curd, vinegar, lemon juice or condiments with which you would like to marinate it and mix well. If you want to store it avoid sprinkling salt. This is because when thawed, salt could melt and release water which could change the succulent texture of your meat. Instead add salt only if you know you would use it within 30 minutes of marination. Else, keep the marinated meat in an airtight container and place it at the back of your refrigerator shelf, given that you would use it the next day or store it in your freezer for prolonged storage. It is best not to store marinated meat beyond two days.
Image source: Getty Images
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