Taking a fridge tour and finding your favourite piece of cheese going stale or your bunch of spinach withering and losing its freshness can be a disheartening sight. While you always believed that the refrigerator was designed to keep your food fresh and chilled yet you never realized that it helps you do that only when you store the right food items in the correct way to aid its storage and cooling capacity.
Dumping food items in the wrong place or in the incorrect way can never help you take advantage of the miracles of refrigeration. Remember, a refrigerator is just a food storing and chilling appliance that works perfectly and smartly only when you condition it do so.
Where you place different foods in a refrigerator determines to a great extent how long they can stay fresh and edible. To obtain maximum freshness, you should strategically place food items understanding their inherent nature and the cooling capacity of your fridge at different places.
Here, we guide you through a refrigerator tour where we apprise you about the different sections of a fridge and what foodstuffs to store in the different parts to optimize cooling and obtain lasting freshness.
Freezer-The Coolest Place!
While freezers are synonymous with ice to chill your drinks and smoothies, there is a surprising lot of stuff that you can store in your freezer to preserve their freshness for months. Besides ice, you can store a lot of frozen fruits, vegetables, meats, soup stocks, and other items.
Keep your stock of pasta sauce, tortillas, and even eggs in the freezer and see how well they remain fresh for a long time. However, with eggs, the best hack is to crack the eggs and store the yolk and white parts separately in a muffin tray. Slices of bread and dough can be stored for up to 3 months safely in a freezer. All you have to do is wrap them with a plastic film to prevent them from drying out. Similarly, stocks to thicken soups and curries can also be stored in the freezer and defrosted later before use.
The best way to store food in a freezer is to pack them tightly in airtight containers and keep everything organized so that it occupies minimal space and is easy to find when you need them.
Avoid storing food in glass jars in the freezer that can break easily, rather freeze foods in zip-lock plastic bags that can be laid flat, are transparent for easy detection of items, and occupies less space.
The Upper and Middle Shelf
This is the place where your refrigerator maintains the most consistent temperature. Try to store all your raw and uncooked food or leftovers on this shelf. Pack the leftovers in plastic boxes and store them here so that there is no chance of contamination with other food items. This is also a great place to store grapes and berries that are delicate and can get rotten with excess cold down below.
The upper shelves are also most apt for storing herbs like coriander and cilantro. The best way to store them is to dip them in a water-filled vase or Mason jar and fit a plastic bag loosely on their top like a balloon. This keeps them fresh for a long time.
It is also the correct place to store ready to eat foods and prepared salads. The idea of storing raw food away from the cooked food below is to avoid contamination or the transfer of harmful bacteria from raw food to cooked food.
The Lower Shelf
For foods that need to be stored at the lowest temperature, this is the place. Do not be trapped by the egg case marked on your refrigerator door as the best place to store eggs. Eggs are delicate food items that need a relatively cold temperature to stay fresh and edible. The lower shelf of the refrigerator has the coldest temperature, as compared to the other parts or components. Reserve this for milk and dairy products like milk, cheese, and yoghurt which need to be kept cool.
The doors are the warmest part of the fridge as they face the constant blows of warm air, whenever you open the door. Reserve this area for storing foods that have the least possibility of spoilage. The least perishable items like sauces, mayo, mustard sauce, soy sauce, juices, jams, and condiments should be stored here. It is also the correct place to store ready-made spices and chocolates. All these items already contain natural preservatives that shall prevent bacterial growth. Because of their added preservatives, these food items can easily withstand temperature fluctuations that the fridge door is most subject to.
Try pouring your milk into a container or pitcher so that it can be stored on the lower shelf of the fridge, which is the most appropriate and coolest place for it rather than storing them in bottles on the fridge door, where it is most likely to get spoilt.
Crisper drawers in refrigerators are designed to maintain moisture and keep the fruits and vegetables fresh for a long time. However, remember never to be tempted to dump all your fruits and vegetables together in this basket or drawer. There is a way to sort and store them according to their inherent nature.
Citrus fruits like apples, plums, pears, and peaches produce the chemical element ethylene that helps them to ripen. When placed with other fruits and vegetables in close contact, it can cause them to ripe faster and go rotten even before you use them. Therefore always keep vegetables and fruits separately in different compartments.
Avoid washing fruits and veggies before placing them in the fridge, rather wash them before eating or consuming them. When you wash them, some moisture is retained in them that may turn them from ripe to rotten even before you get a chance to eat them. When washing fruits or vegetables with mud on them, strain them well and wipe them clean with a kitchen towel or blotting paper to absorb all the extra moisture. Delicate fruits like berries, plums, and grapes should be consumed with two-three days of purchase.
In the case of green leafy vegetables or herbs, in case you wash them place them in a container with a square paper towel to absorb all the excess moisture before you place them in the fridge or crisper drawers.
Some More Tips to Keep Food Fresh in the Refrigerator…
- Always store leftovers in plastic bags or sealed containers to keep them fresh for long.
- Follow the ‘First In First Out’ rule so that you consume the oldest food first and the chances of spoilage are minimal.
- Try to refrigerate leftover food, within two hours of cooking.
- In the case of canned foods, once the can is open avoid storing it back in the fridge as the metal from its rim can leech onto your food and alter its taste and composition.
- Leave cottage cheese, yogurt, and sour cream in the containers that they came in, rather than transferring them to another container.
- If you want to store bread longer, store it in the freezer where it retains its moisture unlike in the fridge where it loses it and becomes dry.
- Store butter and cheese in the dairy compartment if you do not want them to go too hard.
- Keep old stock of food items in front of the new stock, so that you consume them first.
- Keep like fruits and vegetables with like; this means apples go with apples and carrots go well with carrots.
- Avoid storing tomatoes in the fridge. They can be left open in a basket on your kitchen top.
- Do not wash fruits and vegetables before storing them in the fridge. The dampness can leave behind moulds and rotten it more quickly.
- Lastly, never over-crowd your fridge with excessive stuff. Remember, it is majorly a cooling appliance rather than a storage cupboard.
Refrigerators are great modern-day appliances that help you maintain a small supermarket in your house itself, but before stocking up all the goodness in your wonder cabinet, make sure that you follow some simple rules that go a long way in preserving your stock and keeping it fresh. Simple regular habits of storing food correctly help you save your money, time, and energy, which would otherwise be spent in de-cluttering rotten stuff from your fridge. So adopt these healthy storing habits today because a fresh looking and pleasant smelling refrigerator is every home maker’s pride.