Shelf Life, Storage, Freezing and Reheating Tips for TSH Products
Our foods tend to fall into six main categories when it comes to preservation and handling. You will find detailed information below to help you preserve and serve our foods. While most of our foods are packaged in mason jars, they are not canned and are not shelf-stable. They should be kept refrigerated or frozen. Several factors can affect the longevity of any given dish we make, including the ingredients of that dish, the temperature of your refrigerator, how long you have it before you first open it, and how long you have it once it’s opened.
NOTE: We recommend that you do not freeze any of our products that come in quart-size jars. Please see below for details.
1. Hot-Jarred Foods: This category includes our hot Soups, Stews, Bone Broths, Charcuterie, Puddings and Cooked Vegetables, Grains, and Legumes. These foods are jarred while still very hot and put immediately into an ice bath, then kept rigorously cold. Unopened, these products will last a week in the refrigerator. Once opened, they should be eaten within 3-4 days, or the remainder frozen.
2. Fresh Foods: Here we try to make use of fats, acids, or sugars to increase the shelf life of these items, which should be eaten within less than a week as they are more highly perishable than the cooked foods. A layer of olive oil, butter, lard, or coconut oil is often used on top to help extend shelf-life, but these are still the most vulnerable foods we make and so they are sold as fresh as possible. This category includes Pâtés, Hummus and other Bean Dips, Gelatinas, Fruit Crumbles, Chia Puddings, Cakes, and our weekly Baked Casserole.
3. Ready-to-cook Raw Foods: These foods are meant to be cooked, and are handled differently depending on their contents. Our Meat Patties and Meat Loafs are made raw, immediately frozen, then packaged and kept frozen for sale, as this is the safest way to preserve raw meat that will be cooked. In the case of our Cultured Pancake Batter, the cultured dairy helps preserve it and the layer of Piima Cream on the top helps keep it from oxidizing. In the case of the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, ample amounts of sugar (sucanat) and fat (butter) keep it well preserved until the cookies are baked off.
In the case of the Falafel Dough, West African Fritter (Akara) Dough, South Indian Fritter (Vada) Dough or Lentil Veggie Burger Dough, the addition of fats (like olive oil), acids (like lemon juice), salt, and spices all help control the environment in the dough, favoring the development of beneficial bacteria. As these bacteria develop, the flavor of the dough develops a tartness and complexity that some people enjoy. Since the food is then cooked, the bacteria are killed in the cooking process, but the complex flavors they contributed to are still there. We do freeze these doughs if they don't sell out the first week, but we don't fret if they have cultured slightly before freezing as the food is still perfectly safe and (we think) delicious.
4. Naturally Preserved Foods: These foods make use of high amounts of nourishing fats (olive oil, butter, coconut oil), vinegar, or honey--all of which inhibit bacterial growth significantly, so will last awhile. They include Pestos, Golden Blend, Honey Butters, Vinaigrettes, Marinated Mushrooms, and Pickled Beets or Root Vegetables.
5. Fermented Foods
All our fermented vegetable products are artisanally made in small batches. They are rich in probiotic microorganisms, and every batch is unique. The nature of the vegetables, the weather at the time, and the mysterious alchemy of lactofermentation all play a part in the culturing process.
Lacto-Fermented Foods: This category includes all of our Krauts, Lacto-fermented Pickled Vegetables, Beet Kvass, and Cabbage Tonic. This preservation approach was practiced for thousands of years before refrigeration by almost every culture on Earth. These foods have been carefully fermented with salt to build up lactic acid which preserves them. They typically will last for weeks, sometimes months, in the refrigerator, but we recommend eating them within a month once opened. If left unrefrigerated for hours or even overnight they will be fine, and may even be stored in a very cool place for longer.
Over time their flavor may change, but they can be eaten long after opening. Always use a clean fork or spoon when you dip into the jar, as dirty utensils can introduce pathogens and make it spoil more quickly. If a jar develops a pink or blue mold, then please discard it. A white bloom on top can be carefully scooped, scraped or wiped off with a clean utensil or paper towel. If the liquid brine is not covering the foods, add a little salted water to cover.
Quick-Cultured or Quick-Pickled Foods (Vegetables, Dairy and Dressings): These foods have had a shorter culturing time and are typically higher in sugars and lower in salt than the Lacto-fermented foods so they won't last nearly as long. Typically their flavor will change quickly and they will be less delicious as time goes on. This category includes our Cultured Ketchup, Piima Cream, Yogurt Cream, Whey, TSH Mayonnaise, Creamy Dressings, and cold soups such as Cultured Gazpacho and Lithuanian Chilled Beet Soup. It also includes our Kombuchas and Kefirs (which, due to the high sugar content, will become alcoholic or vinegary over time). To understand this process, think of raw apple cider: it starts out as fresh and sweet ("sweet cider") then ferments into alcohol ("hard cider") then eventually becomes apple cider vinegar.
6. Fermented Beverages
Even more than our fermented vegetables, our beverages are sensitive living worlds full of beneficial bacterias and yeasts. Every bottle is its own creation. The interaction of yeast and sugars--whether the natural sugars in the fruit and vegetables, or added sugars that are broken down as the beverages ferment--affects the flavor and the effervescence of that particular drink. Our brewers painstakingly craft and test each beverage through its life cycle, to bring you the most enjoyable, nourishing and consistent product.
Beet Kvass: Refrigerated, the beet kvass will last up to several months. It may develop a white bloom on the top, which can be lifted off with a clean spatula or a clean paper towel.
Kombucha, Kefir and Jun: Refrigerated, kombucha and other beverages will last for several weeks. Their character will change over time, however. It is a good idea to open the bottles slowly. If there seems to be a lot of effervescence, you can slowly open and close the bottle a few times to gradually release the pressure and prevent a geyser!
Notes on Specific TSH Products
Broths: Our Bone broths will last at least 2-3 weeks kept refrigerated and unopened. Once open, they are best consumed within 3-4 days. The shelf life of broth can be extended by bringing to a simmer for 5 minutes, then cooling and re-refrigerating. It will last an extra week if you do this.
If you are consuming broth regularly, then you will probably go through a jar long before it loses freshness. If you only use broth occasionally or in small portions, consider freezing it in ice cube trays (or small jars that fit your portion size) then saving the cubes in a bag or other container in the freezer. You can heat and drink a couple of cubes quickly, or add them as you heat a soup or stew, or while cooking rice or other starches.
Marinated Chicken Legs, Meat Patties and Meatloaves: These are sold uncooked and frozen, ready to thaw and cook. Kept in the freezer, meat patties should last for several weeks, though they can pick up flavors from your freezer or develop freezer burn if kept for too long. Once defrosted, patties should be cooked within 3 days. (Some people report cooking them successfully straight from the freezer.)
Pâtés: Pâtés are best eaten within a week. Sometimes they will hold up to 2 weeks if the fat layer on top is intact. Once the fat layer is broken it should be eaten within a week.
Baked Casseroles (packaged in tins): These are generally best served hot and eaten within 4-5 days of purchase. Some of these are quite good just warmed to room temperature, such as Frittatas, Budin custards, Rice-a-Cheesy, Baked Polenta. The easiest way to reheat by the piece is to place slices in a lidded pan with a bit of broth or water in the bottom. Gently steam over medium-low heat until the food is hot throughout. You can also reheat in the pan that it comes in by removing the paper lid and covering with aluminum foil, then placing in an oven pre-heated to 325°F for 30-40 minutes or until hot throughout.
Yogurt Cream and Piima Cream: Plain Yogurt Cream or Piima Cream will last up to 3 weeks. Depending on the other ingredients, other versions will last from 1 week (if they contain fresh vegetables like cucumbers) to 3 weeks (if they just contain spices like toasted cumin). The flavor may continue to evolve in the fridge. If you’re unsure, taste a bit first, and trust your palate.
Salad Dressings & Dips: These will usually last 2-3 weeks, depending on the ingredients (dairy and eggs may decrease shelf life).
Granolas: Our plain and mixed granolas, and our Paleo Crunch, are freshly dehydrated on low heat. They contain no preservatives. For freshness, we recommend eating these within a month of purchase, though they can still be eaten after several months if stored in a cool, dry place with the lid tightly in place.
Transit Bars: Kept refrigerated and well-wrapped, these will last for around 2 months. You can remove them from refrigeration and let them come to room temperature before eating if you prefer.
Notes on Freezing and Thawing
Broths and broth- or liquid-based dishes will expand when frozen! Our broths and vegetarian soups come in freezer-safe jars, as do all the soups and stews we sell already frozen (these straight-sided jars have no “shoulder” and leave extra space for expansion).
We recommend that you do not freeze any product that comes in a quart jar! If you wish to freeze a product that comes in a quart jar, read these recommendations:
Freeze in quart jars at your own risk! We do not replace or refund for items that break the glass in the freezer.
The safest way to freeze quart jars of our soups and stews is to transfer them to a pyrex or other container with more surface area, and then freeze.
If you want to freeze in the quart jar, to help prevent breakage you can try these techniques:
remove the lid and freeze, then put the lid back on.
remove about ¼ cup of the contents so there is more room to expand as it freezes.
some customers wrap their jars in two layers of paper bags, which slows down the freezing process and prevents many breakages.
Thawing Frozen Items:
When thawing frozen jars of broth or food, do not place in very hot water as this can break the jars. Thaw in the refrigerator or in cool tap water. If you're really in a rush, thaw enough just to loosen the contents, slip the whole thing out of the jar and into a saucepan with a little water or other liquid to cover the bottom of the pan, and slowly bring to a simmer (a covered pan works better for this).