Refrigeration: Frosty Tips to Keep Your Food Fresh!
Your fridge is more than just a storage space. It’s not only used to store food but also to keep it under optimal conditions!
Knowing how and where to store each food item within the various compartments is an express pass to maximum freshness (think juicy crisp greens). Although mold develops slower under colder conditions, these microorganisms still have the ability to spread among foods stored in the fridge, increasing the risk of decay and odors.
Learn how to properly store your food to reduce the risk of contamination with the following tips!
Storing food the right way
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables should be stored separately as they may give off different gases that can increase chances of rotting! When fruits are placed together with vegetables, they can make other produce ripen faster, causing vegetables to turn limp and yellow.Fruits such as apples, peaches and pears produce a chemical (ethylene) that aids in their ripening.
Store fruits and leafy and root vegetables that are prone to dehydrate at a quicker rate in perforated or unsealed bags – such as strawberries and pears; spinach and broccoli. This will help to retain the circulation of air within a moist environment.
You don’t need to wash your greens or fruits before refrigerating. The dampness from even a simple rinse can accelerate the growth of mold and hence decomposition.
Meat: Poultry, Fish, and Red Meat
Retain all fresh meat in its store packaging. Re-wrapping fresh store-bought meat increases the risk of exposing the food to more bacteria.
Avoid storing cooked and raw meat side by side! Always keep them wrapped up separately to prevent the transfer of germs from raw meat to cooked meat.
Liquids – Milk, Yogurt, Cream
Store and leave your dairy products in their original packages/containers.
Do not put dairy products back in its original packaging once it’s removed. Rather, keep them in the container they are sitting in and cover them with plastic wrap before putting them back in the fridge. And remember, do not leave them exposed!
Solids – Cheese, Butter
Keep cheese in original store-bought packaging. Any leftover cheese should be wrapped in foil or cling wrap.
Blocks of butter and margarine may be too solidified when placed in the colder compartment of the fridge. You can choose to store butter on the door shelves or the outer part of the fridge to retain flavor and taste.
Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of cooking. Otherwise, the dish would be at risk of unhealthy levels of bacteria growth, which may affect other food items in the fridge. e.g. raw meat.
Store all leftovers in containers or cling wraps. Limit the handling of food and remove as much air as possible from the storage to keep foods fresh longer.
Do not store your leftovers on the same plate you consumed or served it from, or leave them (especially open cans) exposed in the fridge!
Try to use transparent packaging rather than aluminum foil to easily check the state of your food. Using a clear wrap or container will allow you to throw it out immediately if you notice that it has gone bad earlier than expected.
Discard leftovers after about 4 days. When in doubt, throw it out!
You don't have to wait for hot leftovers to cool down before storing them! As hot air rises while cool air falls, only foods placed on the top shelf may experience a slight difference in temperature. Waiting for hot food to cool was commonly practiced in the past (and sometimes today) because fridges of the past couldn’t manage the warmth.Technology has rapidly advanced since then and our modern refrigerators can definitely handle the heat, so the hot food would have cooled down in an hour or so.
Using the right compartments
The freezer gives food new life by extending its lifespan! The hack is to pack the food items tightly in containers and have them well organized. Optimizing storage helps to save energy (and ultimately money)!
Fridge door shelves
Items placed on the shelves of the fridge doors should be those that are able to stand temperature fluctuations as they will be constantly exposed to warm air from the frequent opening and closing of the doors.Here, you can keep sauces, juices and food that are most resistant to spoiling. Remember, eggs and dairy should not be placed here! This is one of the common mistakes people make.
The top and middle shelves of the fridge have the most consistent temperature and best hold foods that do not require cooking, such as dairy products (e.g. cheese, milk), drinks, hummus, eggs, deli meats, prepacked meals (like salads) and leftovers.
Lower Shelves/ Bottom
The lower shelves, on the other hand, are the coldest part of the chiller. Hence, the best place to store raw meats, fish and poultry. Keep raw food and the potential bacteria here and away from the cooked food on the upper shelves to prevent cross-contamination.
Crisper / Fruit and Vegetable drawer
These drawers are a separate environment on its own, where moist conditions are maintained for optimal storage of produce. Remember not to mix your produce together!
Hacks on staying cool
Refrigerators should be kept between 0 to 5°c so that food spoilage occurs at a slower rate and harmful bacteria cannot multiply.
Resist the urge to stuff your refrigerator (regardless of how great that supermarket deal was!) as the circulation of cold air is important to maintain all items within an optimal cool temperature.
Leave an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator to keep it smelling fresh! Replace it approximately every 1 to 3 months.
Most importantly, as fridges have different designs, customize the tips above to best fit what you’ve observed about your own fridge to keep your food staying fresh longer!