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One of the things that can become a big deal when you start AIP is food storage. Basically, prior to AIP, I really didn’t think a whole lot about this topic. I didn’t do much batch cooking, so I didn’t worry about how to store four quarts of bone broth or how long three baking sheets worth of roasted root veggies would keep in the fridge. I didn’t buy meat in bulk, so I also did not consider freezer storage. I knew, vaguely, those plastic containers weren’t great for health and environmental reasons, but that didn’t stop me from becoming the queen of collecting them (the cupboards bursting lids and containers everywhere every time they were opened). And, I’ll also confess that I was not a worrier about the dangers of old leftovers (if it isn’t stinky and moldy, I say, “Eat it!”).
Despite my “leftovers zen” attitude, I have decided that three years into my journey it is high time to up my food storage game. With that goal in mind, I’ve done a little research and put together a guide that I hope will help us all when we are standing in the kitchen, scratching our heads and wondering, “How do I store that? Will it keep?”
First, we have to consider where to keep food:
- It is very helpful, with an AIP lifestyle to invest in a stand-alone freezer. Obviously, you can live a perfectly happy healing lifestyle without one, but if you have the space and the budget, it is extremely useful. Freezers come in several types, including chest, upright, and specialty. Chest freezers are normally a bit less expensive and they will keep your food frozen for up to 48 hours (if you don’t open the lid) if the power should go out. The drawback is that they are tougher to organize well. Uprights are more expensive and food will not keep as long if there is a power outage, but they are easier to organize. Specialty freezers are mini or portable versions. These might be a good choice for single folks that only need a little extra storage or for people with limited space. In my house we actually use a hand-me-down upright and it has been perfect for us.
- Another very useful place to keep food is a pantry. Again, totally possible to do this without a pantry, but having a storage space that is cooler and dark is very handy. I have a small closet-sized pantry and I also cleared the bottom shelf of one of my lower corner cabinets to expand my space for things like winter squashes and sweet potatoes.
- Refrigerators don’t really need to be discussed, but you may be surprised to find that you don’t need as large a fridge as you may have required before. Fresh, unprocessed foods mean my fridge is a pretty temporary space, not cluttered and overflowing with the typical bottles of old condiments and individually packaged snack foods.
Second, we have to consider what to keep food in:
- As much as possible, it is a good idea to avoid plastic food storage containers. Now don’t stress out here! I’ve slowly been making this swap for years. I have mainly glass and stainless steel now, but some things I have still not completely figured out. For instance, I use (plastic) ice cube trays to freeze bone broth and then I transfer those cubes to (plastic) freezer bags. Also, most of my meat comes from the butcher (via my farmers) in vacuum-sealed (plastic) bags. Wrapping in wax coated butcher paper would be a better alternative, but I’m not there yet. I’m getting there and you will too. For more information on this topic, check out what Chris Kresser has to say here.
Finally, we need to figure out the how and when on different kinds of foods:
Meat, Poultry, and Seafood
Beef and Lamb: Fridge: 2-3 days, Freezer: 4-6 months
Pork: Fridge: 2-3 days (ham and bacon can go up to 2 weeks unopened), Freezer: 1-6 months (bacon on the shorter end)
Poultry: Fridge: 2 days, Freezer: 2-6 months
Seafood: Fridge: 1-2 days (shucked clams, mussels, and oysters on the shorter end), Freezer: 3-6 months (do not freeze live whole crab or lobster)
Apples: Fridge: 21 days
Avocados: Fridge: 3 days, ripen quickly at room temp in a paper bag with an apple
Bananas: Countertop: 5 days
Berries: Fridge: 2-7 days (blueberries on the longer end, cranberries will go for a month), best to wash and discard any moldy berries to prevent the spread of mold
Broccoli: Fridge: 7 days
Brussels sprouts: Fridge: 7 days
Cabbage: Fridge: 7-14 days (Savoy and Napa varieties on the shorter end)
Carrots: Fridge: 14 days
Cauliflower: Fridge: 7 days
Citrus (grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange): Fridge: 14-21 days
Cucumber: Fridge: 5 days
Garlic: Pantry: 2 months
Ginger: Fridge: 3 weeks
Greens (arugula, bok choy, chard, collard, kale, lettuce, mustard, spinach): Fridge: 3-5 days (if it is bagged or in a plastic container, pay close attention to the expiration date)
Herbs (fresh): Fridge: 3-14 days (leafy herbs on the shorter end), best to wrap in damp paper towel
Onions: Pantry: 2 months, Fridge: 4 days (cut)
Parsnips: Fridge: 7 days
Pears: Fridge: 5 days
Sweet Potatoes and Yams: Pantry: 14 days
Turnips: Fridge: 14 days, separate the leaves
Winter Squash (acorn, butternut, delicata, and spaghetti): Pantry: 3 months
Zucchini and Summer Squash: Fridge: 5 days
*For AIP, this list could be have been exhaustive, I decided to focus on some of the really common basics for simplicity.
Baking Soda: Pantry: 1.5 years
Dried Fruits: Pantry: 6 months, unopened or 1 month, opened
*Flour, Arrowroot: Pantry: 3-6 months (in a sealed container)
Flour, Coconut: Pantry: 1 year (in a sealed container)
Flour, Tapioca: Pantry: 3-6 months (in a sealed container)
Herbs (dry): Pantry: 2 years
Spices: Pantry: 3 years, whole or 2 years, ground
*I saw a lot of conflicting guidance on storage of gluten-free starch flours, like arrowroot and tapioca; I boiled it down to the “average” answer for this guide.
Oils, Vinegars, and Sweeteners
Honey: Pantry: 1 year, unopened or open
Maple Syrup: Pantry: 1 year, unopened, Fridge: 1 year, opened
Oil, Avocado: Pantry: 9-12 months
Oil, Coconut: Pantry: 2 years
Oil, Olive: Pantry: 1 year, unopened or 6 months, opened
Oil, Palm (and Palm Shortening): Pantry: 1 year (based on package labeling)
Vinegar: Pantry: 2 years, unopened or 1 year, opened
Special AIP Items
Bone Broth: Fridge: 3-4 days, Freezer: 3 months
Pate: Fridge: 2-3 days, unsealed or 5-7 days, with a coconut oil or butter “seal”, Freezer: 2 months
Gelatin Gummies: Fridge: 14 days
There you are, some simple food storage guidance. Now we can all stop wondering!
The Ultimate Food-Storage Guide. (2012, April 1). Retrieved January 16, 2015, from https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/shopping-storing/food/food-storage
Bone Broth Frequently Asked Questions | Whole9. (2013, December 15). Retrieved January 16, 2015, from https://whole9life.com/2013/12/whole9-bone-broth-faq/
Prasertong, A. (2012, November 6). Recipe: Chicken Liver with Sage, Apple and Thyme – Recipes From The Kitchn. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-chicken-liver-pate-with-sage-apple-and-thyme-179840
FOOD STORAGE — HOW LONG CAN YOU KEEP… (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2015, from https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/17905
Dessinger, H. (2012, August 22). Sour Gummy Candy Recipe. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from https://www.mommypotamus.com/homemade-gummy-stars/