Did you know all it takes is a little extra know-how and some best practices to keep the food in your fridge fresher, longer? It’s true! While many of us have likely lived with a refrigerator our entire lives, we may not entirely understand how it works and how we can use that to our advantage.
To start with, it’s important for your refrigerator’s temperature to remain around 40 degrees F. If it’s colder than that, delicate items like salads can freeze. When it’s warmer, food can spoil more quickly and it may become a health risk. If you’re not sure of your fridge’s actual temperature, buy a thermometer you can keep in it.
That said, temperatures can vary throughout your fridge. It’s generally coldest at the bottom, and the warmest area is usually the door. Here’s how that impacts what you store and where:
The upper shelves are slightly warmer than those below, so use them for leftovers, prepared foods, drinks, yogurt and snacks.
The bottom shelf is where you’ll want to store your meat, poultry and fish. Keeping them on the lowest shelf means they’ll stay as cold as possible; it also means if they leak, they won’t leak all over your fridge. A simple solution is to store them on a tray or plate just in case. The bottom shelf is also where you’ll want to store your milk and eggs, since it’s important they stay as cold as possible, too.
And what about the drawers you may ask? The crisper drawers were built to provide different levels of humidity. Generally you’ll want one drawer with high humidity, the other with low humidity. Here’s why:
The low-humidity drawer works perfectly for fruits and vegetables that can rot easily. This includes apples, avocados, grapes, mushrooms and peppers.
The high-humidity drawer helps foods that may wilt last longer. That’s because the water in those vegetables, like leafy greens, gives them their structure. When they dry out, they can wilt.
Cheese commonly has its own drawer because it can absorb other flavors easily. Having its own drawer prevents that.
Lastly, the door, which is the warmest part of the fridge is best for condiments. That’s right, don’t keep your milk stored in the door even if the shelves there are big enough to hold it.
So there you go! Now you can approach adding items to your fridge in a more strategic way so things last longer. Want to test your knowledge? Take our quiz!