Archive for Storage

Green veggie bags

I seldom extol the virtues of plastics, but there are always exceptions. I am a long time user of various types of green plastic ‘stay-fresh-longer’ produce bags to store my vegetables in the fridge.

The special thing about these bags is that they contain zeolite which absorbs ethylene gas…which is supposed to make your veg last longer. Looking on line, there is a wide range of opinion about whether this is true or not. Some people swear by them, others are less impressed.

Me: I am equivocal. I have used them so long that I no longer know what the counterfactual is.

So why do I like them if I am not convinced by the freshness claims?

First, I do worry (a lot) about food wastage. In western societies we waste a huge amount of food which is a big greenhouse gas problem. If you think of everything in your fridge as embodied carbon (for transport, processing, production) you may feel less inclined to waste it. Then think about the methane (a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon) that is released when wasted food ends up in landfill and your concern should grow.

So, bottom line: I hate to waste food and am attracted to anything that may limit food wastage.

Second, these bags are green. Green in colour. Colour coordination in my kitchen is important, of course, but the primary benefit is that I know these are reserved for veggies and veggies alone. So I reuse them with confidence.

Third, these are tough bags. They wash and dry very well. The Debbie Meyer site suggests that the bags are reusable 8-10 times. I suspect each of mine has been used hundreds of times. I like that longevity.

Fourth, knowing I have a bunch of these back home removes any temptation to help myself to a flimsy plastic bag off the roll in the grocery store. I always mean to have my reusable produce bags with me, but I do sometimes forget.

Fifth, the extra large bags are long enough for celery, and that’s nothing to be sneezed at!

I really believe that these bags have reduced my plastic use (and hopefully my food wastage) considerably over the years. Even though I swore, as a kid, that I would never, ever wash plastic bags (my most hated job was hanging wet bags on the clothes line), I do now. All the time. And I feel good about it.

My first bags were bought over a decade ago in the UK at Lakeland. Lakeland bags are a proprietary product made in Thailand. In north America there are a few choices: Debbie Meyer, Peak fresh, Evertfresh and I am sure some others. I can’t tell you which works best, but I can tell you that they are worth a try. I’d be interested to know if you agree.

Safe (and pretty) food covers

I admit it. I have a thing about food storage.

I am endlessly writing about containers (glass, stainless, silicone, thermos) for left-overs or lunchtime delicacies. I fear food that is inappropriately dried up/soggy/plastic-tasting and am scarred by childhood experiences of malodorous tupperware tumbling out of badly organized cupboards.

My friends seem to have cottoned onto this and so, for my birthday last year, I was given a Lily Pad.

lilypad

Not a real lily pad, but a delightful silicone lid in the shape of a lily pad that can be used in the fridge, freezer, microwave (though I am not a microwaver so can’t vouch for that) and even the oven (up to 500 degrees). It can be washed in the dishwasher (without even a `top-rack-caution’).
(NB. See this previous review for more details on silicone).

Being of French origin, the Lily Pad is well-designed and nice enough to hang on your wall from the built-in loop.
It creates a great seal on ceramic, glass or metal bowls, making it a good replacement for plastic wrap (for those of you who are still using this).

A quick word about plastic wrap: there is nothing good about it. Originally plastic wrap was made from PVC, `the most toxic plastic‘. PVC off-gases terribly, plasticizers in it are probably carcinogenic (just ask those lab rats), poisonous dioxins are produced in its manufacture and it is not recyclable. In belated recognition of these hazards, wrap is now increasingly made from low density polyethylene (LDPE). This makes it less clingy and arguably a less effective food wrap, but it is somewhat safer. It still can’t be recycled.

Anyway, let’s assume that you want to avoid plastic wrap and that you don’t always have to hand a lid of the perfect size to fit the salad bowl/mug/casserole that you wish to place in the fridge or oven.

lilypadset

Just reach for the Lily Pad. The Pads come in 3 diameters: 4″ (10cm), nearly 10″ (25cm) and just over 11″ (about 29cm). They are designed by a French company, Charles Viancin, though made, of course, in China.

The drawback? I have not found a source in Canada. All sizes (plus other neat Charles Viancin cookware) are available on Amazon (prices are between $5 and $14). However, they are sold by third party vendors who do not ship to Canada.

So, for the moment we are Lily Pad-less, as a nation. Is there anyone out there who can solve this problem for me? My food cries out to be covered.

Food storage: the final frontier

OK, that might be overstating things: more my final posting on this topic for a while. I hope that there is infinite innovation on (eco) food storage in my future.

So, I have posted on stainless steel containers (one of my most popular pages, by the way…) and I have posted on silicone containers. Now it is the turn of glass.

I have been using glassware to store my food for about 15 years. Glass containers used to be hard to come by, but now they are everywhere.

Trueseal 1

Glass has so many advantages: it is inert, so no nasty leaching; it goes in the dishwasher, no problem; it can go in the oven as well as the freezer; and it does not stain or retain flavours. The only downsides are that it breaks (of course), though do bear in mind that unless you buy the very cheapest containers you will be purchasing borosilicate glass, which is far more robust that regular glass. Having said that, I really only use glass for in-home storage, partly because it is quite heavy (I did try the lunch bag thing once…not again).

The French were ahead of us all on tempered glass (think about those Duralex glasses that I like so much), or maybe they were just the first who discovered how to make lids.

My oldest glass containers are from Luminarc. I bought them in the UK around 1998 and they are still going strong, though the lids are somewhat split at the edges (I do not always observe the `top rack only’ instruction when it comes to my dishwasher, but since I always wash on the delicate setting to save energy, I figure I get a break).

But now everyone from the dollar store up seems to be making glass with lids (it is the lids which are key to food storage, of course).

trueseal 2

As noted, the cheaper the glass the less robust it seems to be (in my experience). It is also not clear to me what the plastic lids on the cheap containers are made from. There is little point in moving to glass if you are going to cover your food with an off-gassing, BPA-laden lid.

I have, as is my wont, tried most of the glass containers on the market today. I like the idea of the Glasslock type with the flaps that snap shut and make things water- and air-tight. But I don’t like them in practice. You seldom need this degree of seal and I find it hard to get them to close completely. You are also limited to rectangular or square shapes …. I have a soft spot for circles.

My new favourite glassware comes from no further away than the US (yes, the glass itself is actually made there, though the lids do, I am afraid, come from China).

The TrueSeal range from Anchor has flexible (possibly partly silicone?) BPA-free lids with a see-through panel in the top to help you see what is inside. The lids are super-easy to put on and seem to last well. The manufacturer claims that by pushing down the lid to squeeze out air you can make things pretty water-tight. There are differing views on this in web reviews, but I put water in one of mine and turned it upside down and the seal did indeed seem to be true.

The range includes round containers (which nest) as well as square, loaf-shaped and taller containers.

trueseal set

They are all microwave, dishwasher, oven and freezer safe. And since I have a soft spot for lime green (did anyone guess that ?), I like the way these look in my kitchen. They are also fine for serving which cannot be said for plastic.

In the US TrueSeal glassware is available most everywhere, it seems (so Target, Walmart, etc.) and is good value at $25 for a 10 piece set (5 round containers with lids) at Walmart online. I am not sure whether Walmart stocks the TrueSeal range in Canada (I guess I should visit and check it out but I can’t quite bring myself to do that, even for you, dear readers).

I bought the ones I have in a larger Loblaws store, but they certainly don’t sell them in my local Loblaws. I found a better selection at Canadian Tire. Of course they are more expensive here in Canada, around $6 to $12 per container or $19.99 for a set of 3 round containers with lids.

Stainless steel food containers

In my post on litterless lunches I promised to revisit the topic of stainless food containers. Now seems as good a time as any, especially as summer means picnics and picnics require robust food containers.

I am pretty much plastic-free in my kitchen these days and I do enjoy that. It is when I see the orange staining on plastics from tomato sauce, that I fully appreciate how deeply food penetrates plastic (and how little I like that thought). So I use glass/pyrex for storing food at home and stainless steel for my kids’ lunches and picnics.

The downside of stainless is mainly the up-front cost. Until recently, it has also been hard to find good stainless containers, but that has all changed of late.

SM small

For a long time now, I have been using containers made by Sanctus Mundo (a local, Wakefield, Quebec company) which are sold through the website Life Without Plastic, as well as in various retail outlets.

My favourite Sanctus Mundo products are the round airtight/watertight containers in various sizes. These have three clips and a silicone seal which together really do stop leaks, even if the containers tumble around in a lunch bag. Yet they are still easy – and satisfying – to open and close.

Hand washing is recommended: I am good about this but still find a few of my seals showing a bit of mildew. However, this does not affect their performance (and replacement lids are available through the website for about $5). The bad news: these containers cost between $15 and $20 each, depending upon the size, so this might be a gradual investment.

Round containers are great for fruit and small items, but if you are thinking about sandwiches or looking at storing leftovers in the fridge, they are not always the best option.

If you are more of a square person, or want a somewhat larger capacity, another great product comes from a Canadian website, Earthly Bound.

Earthly Bound sell sets of 3 square containersin high quality, shiny stainless for $30.

earthly small

These containers are dishwasher-safe, though hand washing is advised for lids (made of #5 polypropylene plastic which has no bisphenol-A and is generally considered among the safer plastics). If you are an anti-plastic purist the lids could bother you, but I don’t worry too much since the food rarely touches them anyway.

The advantage of the flexible plastic lid is that it stays on well and is easy for small and big hands alike. This is not the case with some containers. For example, Kids Konserve stainless containers have lids that are REALLY hard to get on and off (and hence often leak or fall off, since they were never on properly in the first place). LunchBots containers are nice as they have dividers in them, but they have metal lids – without clips – which are also tricky.

Overall, the Earthly Bound sets are good value and straddle the lunch box/fridge divide. I like the versatility. I should mention that I received a set of these for testing, but this has not affected my review.

A final note on provenance: almost all stainless containers are made in Asia. Surprisingly China is not the main source. Many – including Earthly Bound’s containers – come from India (the home of the tiffin box), while others are from Thailand or South Korea (Sanctus Mundo). Life Without Plastics has a note on its website about ethical sourcing of its products.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Featuring Recent Posts WordPress Widget development by YD