Refrigerator Basics: How to Make Your Food Last Longer

Refrigerator veggiesAn organized fridge not only gives you peace of mind, but it can actually extend shelf life and prevent foodborne illness. Like, did you know that apples and oranges require different conditions than your lettuce and broccoli? Or that certain areas of your fridge are colder than others?

Read on—the next time you come home with a bag of groceries, you’ll know the right place for everything.

  • With good reason, crisper drawers are designated for fruits and vegetables. They give you control over humidity, which affects produce shelf life. Generally, leafy vegetables require high humidity and vegetables with skin or fruit require lower humidity. This is the reason there are two drawers in most refrigerators.
  • Most fridges come with a third, shallow drawer, often referred to as the deli drawer for cold cuts and cheese. Most are built to stay a few degrees cooler than the rest of your fridge.
  • Alternatively, this drawer could be used to corral all of the raw meat, keeping contamination at bay. Or, just store meat on the bottom shelf. Not only is the bottom shelf typically colder, but the juices can’t drip down and contaminate other foods. Store meat on a drip tray or rimmed plate for added precaution.
  • Some fridges have a built in egg compartment, but it is actually best to keep them right in the carton. This way you can keep tabs on the expiration date and easily store the eggs in the coldest part of the fridge, which is usually the back of the bottom shelf (or your deli drawer).
  • The door of your refrigerator is typically the warmest part of your fridge and is susceptible to fluctuating temperatures when you open and close the fridge. For that reason, do not store highly perishable foods like eggs, milk and butter in the door. Save the door for jam, mustard, barbecue sauce and other condiments that benefit from preservatives.

Final tip: Store leftovers, beverages and food that can be served cold on the top shelf. Many professional kitchens adopt this strategy to keep food safety the top priority. Since these foods are already cooked or don’t need to be cooked, there is little chance of contamination dripping down.

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