Dairy products in the professional kitchen -

Dairy products in the professional kitchen

In the hospitality sector all food products must be stored and preserved carefully so they stay in perfect condition and reach the kitchen with all the guarantees of food safety.

When dealing with dairy products this is even more important. Researchers warn that if the correct storage conditions are not followed dairy products, due to their physicochemical composition, rich in sugars such as lactose, are an excellent breeding ground for microorganisms. Therefore, we must pay special attention to the storage of these food products. Take note!

Storage of dairy products: a key issue of food security

The storage of dairy products in the professional kitchen is much more than simply putting them away once opened. The process begins even before buying them and ends just before serving the dish to the customer.

1. Choosing the supplier and product

The first step is to identify what product the chef needs and find the supplier that best suits the specific needs of the kitchen. There are two things we must take into consideration:

  • Frequency of deliveries: The supplier must offer a number of weekly deliveries adapted to the size of the kitchen refrigeration equipment. Fewer deliveries is normally better for the chef and the supplier, but you have to keep in mind that some kitchens have little storage space, so some suppliers make 2 or even 3 weekly deliveries.
  • Type of product: When choosing the type of product to buy, it is important to think about the following:

      • Useful life: It is best to opt for products that make buying stock easier. By choosing products with a long shelf life we can have the ingredients we need at hand without having to worry too much about expiration dates.
      • Format: The storage of dairy products once opened is more complicated. It is essential to choose sizes and types of packaging adapted to the needs of each establishment.
      • Brand: You must always choose reliable brands that guarantee safety through food safety certifications such as IFS, BRC…
      • Quality: Each brand can offer different levels of quality, so it is important to select the right one for each kitchen.

2. Stock management and purchases

It is important to keep stocks under close control and always choose products correctly packaged and labelled by authorized suppliers. In addition, the following must be taken into account:

  • Weekly menu planning: We must plan in advance to avoid running out of ingredients, but also to avoid having too much stock that can go off.
  • Shopping list: When the menus are planned in advance it is very easy to identify what ingredients the kitchen needs.

3. Delivery and storage

We must ensure that all the ingredients we receive are in optimal conditions. In the case of dairy products, the expiration date must be checked and, if they have to be refrigerated, check the temperature they need. It is important to store the products according to their expiration date, to use those that expire before first.

4. The cold chain

The preservation of dairy products should always be done in compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions both at the time of purchase and once opened:

  • UHT dairy products: Store at room temperature (around 18 °C) in a dry and dark environment to avoid oxidation and fat thickening. If the storage room is too hot in summer, it should be air-conditioned to maintain optimum storage conditions.
  • Pasteurized and fresh dairy products: Store at 4 to 6 °C, make sure refrigerators are not being opened constantly (they warm up every time they are opened) and check that they work correctly.

5. Working with dairy products

If we are going to open a product and we are not going to finish it, both UHT and pasteurized and fresh products need cold storage. Once a product is opened we must consider how much we need, take the needed amount and immediately afterwards close it and place it in cold storage to avoid leaving it for too long at room temperature. It is recommended to write on the package the date it was opened and consult the recommendations for secondary shelf life to use the product safely.

If what we want is to store recipes made with dairy products, the recommendations are the same. We must never leave processed foods at room temperature and store them in the fridge until consumed. We must also remember that if the recipe has not undergone any thermal process (cooking, baking or freezing), the shelf life of this is the same or less than the shorter secondary shelf life of its ingredients. To manage this, it is helpful to label all recipes with their name, date they were cooked and expiration date.

When handling dairy products, we must take all necessary measures to prevent food contamination. In addition to personal hygiene, we must also have dedicated and clean equipment and utensils for each type of product, as well as to wash and disinfect them frequently to avoid cross contamination.

In summary, to keep dairy products in perfect condition it is important to choose the right products and suppliers based on the needs of each establishment. Store them respecting the cold chain and handle them following European food safety and hygiene regulations.