We all get in the habit of tossing our groceries into the freezer or refrigerator, but are we maximizing the lifespan of our food by doing so? Refrigerators have different drawers, shelves and parts for a reason, that being that different foods require different refrigeration. So, before you shove all of your grocery bags into the same shelf, take a look at where different foods should be stored in the refrigerator.
If you find yourself standing in front of the refrigerator with the doors wide open, you may notice that the doors are the warmest part of the refrigerator since they are the most exposed to warmer temperatures. The shelves in the doors should be the home for condiments, sauces, and some beverages such as juice and water that have a longer shelf life. Contrary to popular belief, placing eggs and milk in the door is NOT smart as they require a consistently cold environment.
Professional kitchens organize their refrigerators very specifically to maintain freshness. This includes keeping raw ingredients such as meats, eggs, seafood and other dairy lowest. It is important to keep raw meat in a location all to itself because if it were to leak it could contaminate other foods. Many people keep meat in its original packaging and then place it in an improvised bin, on a plate or in a meat locker. While meat, eggs, seafood and dairy require the coldest temperatures, it is crucial to maintain separation between the foods.
While the lower shelves have the coldest temperatures, the upper shelves have the most consistent temperatures. This is best for foods that do not need to be cooked such as leftovers, drinks, yogurt, deli meats and hummus. While most fruit will be stored in a crisper drawer, washed berries can be stored on the upper shelves because they need to be eaten within the next few days of washing and the upper shelves provide easy access. The upper shelves are also good for herbs if placed upright in a jar with a bit of water and a loose cover such as plastic wrap or a plastic bag.
Crisper drawers are designed to control the humidity in the drawer, not the temperature. In each refrigerator there are typically at least two crisper drawers. This is because fruits and vegetables need to be stored separately. Fruits will require a lower humidity than vegetables, and vegetables require a high humidity level to maintain crispness. Fruits produce a chemical to help them ripen, and when fruits and vegetables are mixed all together in one drawer your vegetables will be pushed to ripen as well, making them limp, yellow, or even begin to sprout. To avoid this and prolong the life of your produce, divide your produce into the different drawers.
Top Of Fridge
Sometimes you will find people who store bread, produce or other foods on the top of the refrigerator. This may seem like ideal storage for extra food, but it is suggested to instead fill this space with storage for cookware and cookbooks rather than edible foods.
Do I Refrigerate This?
There are a few foods that someone may be iffy about leaving out on the counter or putting it in the refrigerator. To make things easier, here is a list of foods that should not be refrigerated:
- Tomatoes: store on the counter to allow them to ripen fully
- Basil: store it on the counter like you would with cut flowers!
- Potatoes: avoid sugary, gritty potatoes by storing them in a paper bag in a cool, dark place, as close to 45 degrees as possible, but not in a cold place like the refrigerator
- Onions: cool, dry place (but separated from the potatoes, because they’ll both deteriorate faster when together!)
- Avocados: refrigeration almost stops the ripening process. If you have an already-ripe avocado and do not plan to use it right away, you can refrigerate it
- Garlic: cool, dry place. Refrigeration causes sprouting and mold
- Bread: counter space, refrigeration will dry out your bread quickly
- Coffee: cool, dark place, but not refrigerator because it will lose its flavor and retain odors from the fridge
Wondering if the food in your refrigerator is still fresh? Check out this guide: Is This Still Safe To Eat?
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Written By: Madison Jezioro