The majority of households need to store food from time to time, whether it be for leftovers, the extra meals you have prepared for the freezer, or food that you plan on using later, such as a packed lunch, or picnic. There is a vast array of food storage containers available on the market, so which ones should you choose?
Food storage containers come in a few different materials, and in a multitude of shapes and sizes. They are usually made from plastic, ceramic or glass and have a variety of sealing options to either maximize freshness or for ease of access for more temporary storage.
Plastic food storage containers are not all alike; there are the hard plastic variety that will not shatter if dropped, made from polycarbonate, and the more flexible variety made from polypropylene or polyethylene. Typically, these food storage containers have an array of lid seals but tend not to be as hardwearing as their hard plastic cousins.
Glass and ceramic food storage containers are most commonly in the form of either a bowl or a canister. The bowls tend to have a plastic lid to seal in their contents, but canisters usually have an attached lid with a rubber seal that protects against oxygen leakage so they will keep food items like cakes and cookies fresh. The diversity of food storage containers means that it doesn't matter if your food is liquid, like soup, or more substantial; there is always a solution to freshness.
If longevity is important to you, then perhaps you should consider vacuum packing as your food storage container. This involves placing food in a specialized container or bag and removing all the air with a vacuum device. Storing food this way ensures that food is kept fresher for up to five times longer than the more traditional food storage methods. Because you have removed all oxygen from the food, you have protected it from a variety of contaminants such as the growth of micro organisms such as yeast and bacteria and insect contamination, but you have also made sure that your food will not suffer from freezer burn, or become stale or dry.
Plastic bags and wrap are probably the most simple of all food storage containers. They can be used for small portions and pose a lower risk of freezer burn than using other forms of storage, apart from the vacuum system, because the plastic clings to the food, eliminating some of the oxygen. They come in a variety of sizes, and you can get plastic bags that are specifically designed for freezer usage - they are thicker and have an extra layer to insulate food.
If you are looking for food storage containers that are environmentally friendly, you do have choices. Obviously glass and ceramic ones are ideal because they can be reused often and can be recycled. There are some plastics that you should avoid, though, because they are not biodegradable and can actually bleed chemicals into food when it is being heated. These 'baddies' are the ones made from PVC, polystyrene and polycarbonate.