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Coventry Location 821 Tiogue Ave, Coventry, RI 02816
401-826-0050 or 401-826-0051
Mon-Sat, 8am-7pm • Sun 8am-6pm

Warren Location 137 Child St, Warren, RI 02885
Mon-Sat, 8am-8pm • Sun 8am-7pm

Tiverton Location 492 Main Rd, Tiverton, RI 02878
Mon-Sat, 8am-8pm • Sun 8am-7pm

Tom's Market Newsletter February 29, 2012


Good evening everyone,

Picture this:

It was a beautiful spring-like day.(Hey…we’ve had a TON of those this winter, haven’t we??)   It was so good, in fact, that you were in a cleaning mode from the time you woke up. (REALLY?!?!?!) Now that the day is ended, you can walk around and smell the freshness of a good spring cleaning. The closets, the garage, even those little dust bunnies under the bed are gone!! With the sense of satisfaction of a job well done, you flop down in your favorite chair for a well-deserved rest.

You wake up in the middle of the night with a small little hunger pang. As you get up out of the chair (knowing full well that you shouldn't eat anything at 2:00 in the morning) and trudge down to kitchen, you can sense, even in your state of half sleep, that something is amiss. All of a sudden, you here a noise.....maybe the wind you think...........

With your eyes half closed, you open the fridge and.........(Theme music to the movie "Jaws" please.........)



You slam the door shut, and in a state of pure terror, you turn and try to run out the door. But no.......this is no exit.......IT'S THE DOOR TO YOUR PANTRY!!

You're not quite quick enough to shut that door, and the demons of non-spring culinary cleanings past are now free to roam the house!!

Dazed, confused, and a little freaked out, you collapse on the floor.

You wake up the next morning, still in your favorite chair, and realize that it was just a dream..... just a terrible, horrible dream.

Or was it?????????

Enough with the horror stories. The truth of the matter is that we never really think about doing some spring cleaning in the kitchen. Why not?? Who knows. Maybe it's the fact that you actually spent a lot of money on the things in your refrigerator or pantry. Maybe you thought that you would get around to using them, but the time just got away. Maybe you just forgot about them. Maybe, just Maybe...(I thought I said enough with the horror stories!!)

Now that we have the spring cleaning thing out of our way, let's review some basic food information, according to the Food Marketing Institute, to keep you out of trouble in the first place.

Proper food storage starts as soon as you select it at the store. Then the food must be handled carefully and safely at home. Check the product dating on the foods you purchase and use.

Filling Your Cart

  • Shop for shelf-stable items such as canned and dry goods first.
  • Buy refrigerated and frozen foods and hot deli items last -- right before checkout.
  • Don't choose meat, fish, poultry or dairy products that feel warm to the touch or have a damaged or torn package.
  • Place leaking packages in plastic bags.
  • Choose only pasteurized dairy products.
  • Choose only refrigerated eggs and make sure that they are not cracked or dirty.
  • Check "sell-by" dates on packages.
  • Buy intact cans that are not bulging, leaking or dented on the seam or rim.

Handling Food Safely at Home

Many cases of food poisoning occur each year due to improper handling of foods in the home. Once you purchase food, go directly home. If this is not possible, keep a cooler in the car to transport perishable items. Immediately put cold perishables into the refrigerator or freezer.

Hot perishable foods picked up from the deli department need to be kept warm and consumed within two hours. If you purchase hot deli foods to eat at a later time, place the food in small portions in shallow containers in small portions and refrigerate or freeze as soon as possible. Perishable foods should be kept at room temperature no longer than two hours.

Bacteria multiply rapidly at temperatures between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, the harmful bacteria that cause most cases of food poisoning cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. Therefore, it's important to

Keep cold foods cold (40 degrees Fahrenheit or below) and Hot foods hot (above 140 degrees Fahrenheit) and follow these

Three rules for handling food safely:

  1. Keep everything clean -- hands, utensils, counters, cutting boards and sinks.
  2. Always wash hands thoroughly in hot soapy water before preparing foods and after handling raw meat, poultry or seafood.
  3. Don't let raw juices from meat, poultry or seafood touch ready-to-eat foods either in the refrigerator or during preparation.

Food Product Dating

Dates are printed on many food products. After the date expires, must you discard that food? In most cases, no. A calendar date may be stamped on a product's package to help the store determine how long to display the product for sale. It is not a safety date.

Product dating is not required by Federal regulations although dating of some foods is required by more than 20 states. Calendar dates are found primarily on perishable foods such as dairy products, eggs, meat and poultry. Coded dates might appear on shelf-stable products such as cans and boxes of food.

There are several types of dates:

  • "Sell-by" date -- tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
  • "Best if Used By (or Before)" -- recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
  • "Use-By" -- the last date recommended for the use of product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
  • "Closed or Coded Dates" -- packing numbers for use by the manufacturer in tracking their products. This enables manufacturers to rotate their stock as well as locate their products in the event of a recall.





Baby Food

Do not buy or use infant formula and baby food past its "use-by" date. Federal regulations require a date on those products.

Expired Dates

As long as a product is wholesome, a retailer may legally sell fresh or processed meat and poultry products beyond the expiration date on the package.

Shelf Stable Foods

Before opening, shelf stable foods should be safe unless the can or packaging has been damaged. After opening, store products in tightly closed containers. The storage of many shelf stable items at room temperature is a quality issue -- unless the product is contaminated (bugs in flour, for example). Some foods must be refrigerated after opening, such as tuna or chili.

Foods Purchased Frozen

When shopping, place frozen foods in the cart last, immediately before checking out. Take the foods directly home and place in freezer.

Foods Purchased Refrigerated

Refrigerate foods to maintain quality as well as to keep them safe. Some bacteria grow and multiply -- although very slowly -- at refrigerator temperatures. There is a limit to the time various foods will stay fresh and safe in the refrigerator. Food kept continuously frozen at 0º F will always be safe but the quality suffers with lengthy freezer storage.

NOTE:Storage time are from date of purchase unless specified on the chart. It is not important if a date expires after food is frozen.

Bakery Items

Bakery items containing custards, meat or vegetables, and frostings made of cream cheese, whipped cream or eggs must be kept refrigerated. Bread products not containing these ingredients are safe kept at room temperature, but eventually they will mold and become unsafe to eat.

Fresh Produce

Raw fruits are safe at room temperature, but after ripening, will mold and rot quickly. For best quality, store ripe fruit in the refrigerator or prepare and freeze. Some dense raw vegetables such as potatoes and onions can be stored at cool room temperatures. Refrigerate other raw vegetables for optimum quality and to prevent rotting. After cooking, all vegetables must be refrigerated or frozen within two hours.

Refrigerating Food

We keep food in the refrigerator to preserve its freshness and keep it safe. Cold temperatures keep food fresh and inhibit the growth of most bacteria. However, food spoilage microorganisms can still grow and multiply slowly over time, so there is a limit to the length of time various foods will stay fresh in the refrigerator. Eventually food will begin to look or smell bad and should be thrown out. Use the following temperature and storage tips to help keep perishable food safe.






Set the refrigerator to maintain a temperature of 40°F or below. Keep a refrigerator thermometer in the unit or check the temperature periodically. The control may need to be adjusted seasonally. For example, a refrigerator set for 40°F in the summer may be too cold for the winter, resulting in frozen lettuce or milk. Don't overload the refrigerator. Air must circulate freely to cool all foods evenly.


Leave meat and poultry products in the store wrap before using, since repeated handling can introduce bacteria into the product or spread bacteria around the kitchen. Store opened food in foil, leakproof plastic bags or airtight containers to keep food from drying out. Place meat, poultry and fish in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Store eggs in their original carton on a shelf, not in the door. Defrost frozen meats or marinate meats in the refrigerator where they will remain safe -- never on the kitchen counter. Clean the refrigerator regularly to remove spoiled foods so that bacteria can't be passed to other foods.

Freezing Food

Foods frozen at peak quality will taste better than foods frozen near the end of their useful life, so quickly freeze items you don't plan to use in the next day or two.


Proper packaging helps maintain quality and prevent "freezer burn." It is safe to freeze foods in their supermarket wrappings. Use them within a month or two. Many supermarket wrappings are air permeable. So, for longer storage, overwrap packages with airtight heavy-duty foil, plastic wrap or freezer paper, or place packages inside a plastic bag. Date packages and use the oldest items first.

Freezer Burn

If frozen food gets "freezer burn," it is still safe to eat, it is merely dry in spots. Cut freezer-burned portions away either before or after cooking the food.


Freezing to 0 degrees Fahrenheit inactivates but does not destroy microbes -- bacteria, yeasts and molds -- present in food. Once thawed, however, these microbes can again become active, multiplying under the right conditions to levels that can lead to foodborne illness. Never defrost foods outdoors, in a cold room in the house such as the basement, or on the kitchen counter. These methods encourage growth of harmful bacteria that may be present.

There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold running water and in the microwave. Food thawed in the refrigerator is safe to refreeze without cooking. It is important to plan ahead because food takes longer to thaw in the refrigerator.









Pantry Storage

  • Shelf stable foods such as canned goods, cereal, baking mixes, pasta, dry beans, mustard and ketchup can be kept safely at room temperature.
  • To keep these foods at their best quality, store in clean, dry, cool (below 85 degrees Fahrenheit) cabinets away from the stove or the refrigerator's exhaust.
  • Extremely hot (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and cold temperatures are harmful to canned goods
  • Never use food from cans that are leaking, bulging, badly dented, or with a foul odor; cracked jars or jars with loose or bulging lids; or any container that spurts liquid when you open it. Never taste such foods. Throw out any food you suspect is spoiled.
  • In general, most canned foods have a long "health life," and when properly stored, are safe to eat for several years:
  • Low-acid canned goods -- 2 to 5 years (canned meat and poultry, stews, soups except tomato, pasta products, potatoes, corn, carrots, spinach, beans, beets, peas and pumpkin)
  • High-acid canned goods -- 12 to 18 months (tomato products, fruits, sauerkraut and foods in vinegar-based sauces or dressings)
  • Some canned hams are shelf stable. But do not store ham or any foods labeled "keep refrigerated" in the pantry. Such foods must be stored in the refrigerator.

Now that we have the educational part out of the way, let's see if we can unravel the mess you're in.

Let's start by categorizing your kitchen into 4 separate areas: Refrigerator, Pantry, Freezer, and Nonfood storage.

Let's start with the easy one: Non food storage.

Go through your pots and pans, cooking gadgets, and other handy little items you couldn't live without. If you haven't used them in the past year, get rid of them. Wouldn't it be nice to reach into the cupboard and pull out the pan you need without going through the hassle of pulling out every single one?

Take the time to match up all of your plastic storage containers. If your like me, you have twice as many covers as you do containers. Check your silverware draw. Anything in there you don't recognize? Anything that you think you might need? (Think real hard..........everyone likes a trip to the gadget store.) If your really starting to breath heavy and are in the middle of an attack of separation anxiety, put all of the stuff you pulled out in a box and shove it in the basement. I can assure you, if you haven;t used it by next year, it will command a great price at a yard sale.

Next is the Pantry. Lots of stuff here to investigate. We all know that our pantries need to be cool, dry, and out of direct sunlight. As a general rule, spices and herbs start to loose their pungency and flavor after 6 months. How will you know? The best thing to do is to start dating when you purchase them!!. If you don't know when you purchased them, date them when you do your spring cleaning!!

Use these guidelines with your other pantry items if expiration dates are not decipherable:

(All dates are for unopened items)

  • Artificial sweetener, flavored extracts, vinegar, white rice - 2 years
  • Biscuit Mix - 9 months
  • Bottled salad dressings, grated cheeses 10-12 months
  • Brown sugar, Marshmallow Creme, nuts in the shell - 4 months
  • Brownie, pancake and cake mixes, white flour - 9 months
  • Canned Juices, peanut butter, shortening - 9 months
  • Catsup, chili, or cocktail sauce, molasses- 12 months
  • Dried fruit, rice mixes, salad oils - 6 months
  • Coffee, tea, pasta - 2 years
  • Cornmeal, cornstarch - 15 months
  • Dried Legumes, pudding mixes - 12 months
  • Fresh potatoes, marshmallows, mayonnaise, shelled nuts toaster pastries - 2-3 months
  • Gelatin - 18 months
  • Honey, syrup, soup mixes, - 12 months
  • Instant Potatoes, ready to eat cereals - 12 months
  • Jellies and Jams - 12 months
  • Onions, sweet potatoes, garlic - 3-4 weeks

Next up: Refrigerator

Once you get past the expiration date, this one is really a matter of trusting your senses. See it. Touch it, smell it. Oh....and if you can hear it, It's a good bet that the next stop should be the trash can. Assume canned and bottled items are open.

  • Apples - 1-2 weeks
  • Asparagus, berries, corn in the husk 1-2 days
  • Bacon, coffee, cream cheese - 2 weeks
  • Beef chops, beef sausage, beef steaks, chicken - 2-3 days
  • Leftover broth, gravy - 2 days
  • Baby foods - 2-3 days
  • canned fish/shellfish/poultry - 2 days
  • canned fruit, fresh citrus fruit - 1 week
  • Canned ham - 6 months
  • Pickles, grated cheeses - 3-4 months
  • Tomato sauce, condensed or evaporated milk, lettuce - 5 days
  • Canned Vegetables, egg yolks, spinach - 3 days
  • Carrots, Celery, sour cream - 1-2 weeks
  • Citrus juices, concentrated juices - 6 days
  • Coffee creamer, half & half - 10 days
  • Egg whites, hard cooked eggs, melon, whole ham - 1 week
  • Eggs in the shell - 4-5 weeks
  • Fresh fish - 1-3 days, longer if it has a high oil content
  • Ground meats 1-3 days
  • Hard cheeses - 3-6 months, unopened, 2-3 weeks, opened
  • Lunch meats, cold cuts, yogurt 5-10 days
  • Veal/Pork chops, steaks, sausage, roasts - 2-4 days
  • Soft cheeses, including ricotta, opened - 5 days
  • whipped cream in can - 3 months

Last but not least...........The Freezer:

As mentioned in the freezer info, freezer burn doesn't mean the product is bad, it just means that that portion was exposed to air. If you are planning to freeze for less than 2 weeks, you can freeze in the original wrapper. Just because you ask to have your packages freezer wrapped, they still need to be put in a suitable air tight wrap for longer periods. You can basically freeze food items indefinitely, but the flavor, appearance, and nutritional value will start to decline after the recommended lengths.

  • Bacon, citrus fruit sections/ citrus juices - 6 months
  • Beef casseroles - 3 months
  • Beef chops, butter, duck - 6-9 months
  • Beef Sausage, beef steaks 1-2 months
  • Beef stew meat - 6-9 months
  • Berries, shrimp - 12 months
  • Commercial bread 2-3 months
  • Broth, gravy - 1 month
  • Frosted cakes - 8-12 months
  • Chicken, concentrated juices, egg whites or yolks - 12 months
  • Chicken TV Dinners, turkey - 6 months
  • Chocolate cake, ice cream - 4 months
  • Cookies, packaged or homemade, unbaked cakes and pies - 8-12 months
  • Fatty fish, scallops - 2-3 months
  • Fruit cake - 2-3 centuries
  • Ground meats - 2-3 months
  • Lamb chops, stew, roasts - 3-4 months
  • Ripe fruit - 12 months
  • Baked pies and pastries - 1-2 months
  • Pork chops/roasts/steaks - 3-6 months
  • Veal chops or steaks - 3-4 months

The bottom line here is to use your common sense, don't buy too much, and use first in first out rotation for all your food items in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.

Oh yeah.......the recipe part.....................

I'll just wait until your spring cleaning is done, or use up some of your “stuff”

Have a great week. See you in the store!!

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