Hello, this is Daisuke.
I have kids, all girls. This year 2 daughters enrolled in high school and started to take bento to school every day.
"Bento" culture is unique to Japan.
When my kids were in kindergarten, my daughters used Pokemon and Ghibli Totoro lunch box. Now, they are using Moomin and Snufkin bento boxes.
Character bento boxes are being used and loved by all ages!
I sometimes get up early to make their bentos.
Now season (Japan is in the rainy season), bento gets damaged and spoiled easily.
Of course I have some ideas to prevent this from happening.
Today, we will show you how to prevent food from getting damaged and spoiled when making bento in the warm season.
4 key points to check to prevent bento from damage
1. The food must be heated and cooked well!
Heating & cooking foods well is the basis of preventing food damage. You would like to pay particular attention to what to put in the bento box. I’m sure that you will want to pack fresh & raw vegetables, but the water drained out from the vegetables will cause germs to grow. In a bento box, avoid things that are not cooked in the warm season. Tamagoyaki, an eggroll which is No.1 in bento box, also is watery inside may easily become soft-boiled, so be careful. It is safer to heat fish sausage and kamaboko even though these can be eaten raw. To save time and effort to make a bento, we often use the leftovers from last dinner, but I recommend you to heat them again before packing in your bento box.
2. Plus 1 pinch of salt. Make good use of ingredients that have a a bactericidal effect
Salt has a bactericidal effect. Therefore, it's a good idea to keep food in your bento box a bit more salty than usual. It is also recommended to use bactericidal ingredients such as dried plums, vinegar, perilla, parsley, garlic, ginger, and curry powder. For rice, it will make it more safe to add a spoonful of vinegar when cooking, or add a whole umeboshi to make "ume rice".
3. Avoid watery menus!
Be careful of "watery menu", bacteria can easily grow! You should avoid simmered dishes and seasoned dishes. Also, be careful with potato salad and macaroni salad. Mayonnaise is made from raw eggs, and when mixed with it, the ingredients tend to get rid of water, which makes it more susceptible to damage during the warmer seasons. The blind spot is mixed rice such as fried rice and omelet rice. Moisture will come out from the vegetables when mixed with rice, causing damage & spoil! On the other hand, fried foods made with oil are dishes with a low risk of food poisoning because the water is removed during cooking. Fried chicken, the most standard in a bento box, is also recommended in the summer. Side dishes such as fried vegetables are also safe when they are fried until the water is removed.
4. How to lower the risks even if...
You can reduce the risk of food poisoning of menus you want to avoid in bento by using easy technique. Egg dishes can easily be cooked soft-boiled. Be sure to cook boiled eggs hard-boiled and it would be better to soak them in soy sauce or mirin, which makes them prevent even more from damage. Also tip for watery marinades. It is a good idea to lay a generous amount of dried bonito flakes and cut wakame seaweed underneath to absorb water. For side dishes that you want to add mayonnaise, take them in small pieces that are used up or transferred to a small container. You can prevent food poisoning by adding it just before eating.
[5 Tips] Finish it up perfectly. Best way to pack and carry your bento.
In order to prevent food poisoning in bento boxes, how to serve and manage bento boxes are just as important as how to cook and choose menus.
1. Cool down the food before packing in bento box
Morning is busy for all of us! When you pack your bento, aren't you packing them warm? If you are doing so, water will accumulate in the lunch box, causing damage to the food. Be sure to cool them down and then pack. Place the rice flat on a plate and let it cool. I know, it's difficult to use a lot of plates to cool the dishes. It's a good idea to spread the cooking sheet on a plate, and then line up as many side dishes as you can pack in the lunch box.
2. Do not use leaves as partition in your bento box
Many people use leaves such as lettuce as partitions. But as I mentioned, raw leaves are also one of the reasons to water the bento. Contact with other foods can cause germs to grow. Bento packed neatly together with leaves looks attractive, but to avoid the damage, using silicone cups or disposable aluminum cups are highly recommended. For rice, which is moist and easily damaged, it is a good idea to wrap them to make a rice ball and separate it from other dishes.
3. Pack with chopsticks or gloves. Avoid making Chara-ben in warm seasons!
Even if you cook with great care, if germs on your hands adhere to the food during packing, your efforts up to this point will be spoiled. To avoid this to happen, do not touch the food directly with your hands, and do your best to use chopsticks and vinyl gloves. There are many recipes that use perishable ingredients such as cheese and seaweed for the Chara-ben (character bento). It is safe to avoid making them in the warm seasons because you will often come into contact with the foods with detailed manual work using your hands.
4. Keep your bento box clean!
It is important to keep the bento box itself clean, it can be said that it is important as packing the food in the bento box. When washing the bento box, be sure to remove the rubber part and wash properly. Don't forget to dry it completely after washing. It is more effective to soak kitchen paper with a disinfectant spray or vinegar and wipe it off to finish. Wipe it gently after washing and let it dry.
5. Ice packs and cooler bags are essential items
If the bento gets warm while carrying, any food can easily be damaged. Indispensable items are ice packs and cooler bags. When you put bento in a cold storage bag, place cold ice packs on the top and bottom of the bento box so that the cold air can be circulated throughout the cold storage bag and cool it down. It's also a good idea to put a bite-sized jelly or a frozen PET bottle drink together with the bento box.
Just a little tip will save your bento and make it delicious!
Bento is great and delicious, you want to make it safe from damage.It's difficult to do everything thoroughly, but let's start with what you can and enjoy a fun bento life this summer!