We all keep certain foods in our refrigerator or American style fridge freezer to keep them fresher and help them to last for longer. But did you know that incorrectly storing your foods in the fridge can shorten their shelf-life and even cause food poisoning? In order to prevent this it’s worth considering how best to organise your food onto the right shelves and drawers in your fridge to keep things efficient, tidy and safe.
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Top and Middle Refrigerator Shelves
The top shelves of your fridge are the warmest, so they are best for keeping your pre-prepared foods. Dairy products like butter and cheese are best kept here. If you have any cooked meat or leftovers, store these in sealed containers on the middle shelves.
Bottom Refrigerator Shelves
Any raw meat or fish should be stored on the bottom shelf of your fridge. There are two reasons for this. The first is because this is the coldest part of the fridge, so will keep your raw items fresher for longer. The second is because there’s a lower risk of raw juices that can cause food poisoning dripping on to foods that are ready to eat.
The Salad Drawer
As you’d expect, this is the best place to store your salad, vegetables and fruit. Some salad drawers have humidity controls that help salad items like lettuce and cucumber and veg such as cauliflower, broccoli, beans, carrots and leafy veg to last longer.
Fridge Door Racks
It’s best not to store anything that needs to be kept really cold in the fridge door rack because the temperature can fluctuate quite considerably when the door is opened. Many people keep milk here but it’s not the best place to maximise the shelf life. You’d be better off keeping eggs, condiments, jam and fruit juices here.
Tips for Optimum Fridge Storage
Always keep your fridge temperature below 5 degrees celcius (41 degrees farenheit) to keep your food items cool enough. If things are getting frosty, move them away from the coolest areas (close to the back or on the bottom shelf) to somewhere that’s not quite as cold. Your fridge will use less energy and keep at a more constant temperature if it is kept well stocked, so it’s best to use a fridge that’s appropriate to the amount of food you usually keep rather than having one that’s much bigger than you need. If you have a big family, a spacious american style fridge freezer is ideal as long as you store enough to keep it fairly full most of the time.
When you’re preparing food that’s best kept refrigerated, try to work as quickly as possible. Keeping it out of the fridge for the minimum amount of time will help it stay fresher. If you have leftovers that you want to keep, make sure you refrigerate them within 90 minutes and consume them within 2 days.
Use By and Best Before Dates
Make sure you avoid food poisoning by understanding the dates on your food. Use by dates are only added to food that can go off quickly. It can be dangerous to eat foods past their use by date so treat them with caution.
Best before dates are added to foods with a longer life. They are an indication of when the food will be at its best. If a food has passed this date it doesn’t necessarily mean that the food will be harmful. The flavour and texture may have changed making the food less enjoyable.