There is no need to remove dairy products from their original wrappings. Keep milk, cottage cheese, and other dairy products sealed tightly in the fridge. However, once an item has been removed from its packaging, don’t return it. Instead, use plastic wrap or an airtight container to seal the food again. It’s best to purchase milk in glass bottles since bacteria can begin to form at the spout of a cardboard box. However, as long as the milk is used before the expiration date, it should be fine to drink.
Hard cheese should be kept in the original store packaging until it’s used. Once the cheese is removed from the wrapping, store it in wax paper, loose plastic, or foil. Because cheese needs to breathe, don’t worry about wrapping it too tightly. Wax paper is a good choice because it protects the cheese from the surrounding air while still allowing it to breathe a bit.
Fruits and Vegetables
Many fridges come with a crisper drawer or a drawer designed specifically for fruit. Use this drawer if it’s available. It’s okay to mix vegetables and fruits together, but since fruits and vegetables give off different gases, it’s best to store similar foods together. For example, don’t mix apples with carrots or oranges with spinach. Try to keep each different type of vegetable in a different drawer.
Fruits and vegetables need to be able to breathe and let off gases. If the gases get trapped, the food will rot faster. Use breathable bags, or place vegetables in bags that aren’t sealed to ensure an optimal lifespan. Also, avoid the temptation to wash any produce before storing it since moisture is the death of vegetables. When using bags, it’s helpful to place a paper towel around the vegetables to help capture moisture. If no bag is used at all, then lay down a few paper towels in the drawer to ensure that they stay fresh and free of moisture.
Some fruits are actually better off purchased frozen if they are not currently in season. The belief that nutrients are lost in the freezing process and that all fruits and vegetables should be purchased fresh is not true. The reason for this is that frozen foods are typically picked at the optimal time where the nutrients are highest. They are then frozen, locking in the nutrients. Seek out flash-frozen fruits and vegetables as other methods can result in nutrient loss.
Some fruits and vegetables that don’t do well in the fridge include bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, onions and squash. Hang bananas when you can, and try to avoid breaking the stem when pulling one off. This helps to ensure the bananas are kept fresh longer. Potatoes, onions and squash are best stored in a cool, dark place like a cupboard. Avocados can be placed in the fridge to slow down the ripening process, but it’s also fine to leave them out on the counter.
As we mentioned earlier, leftovers should be placed on the top shelves of the fridge because this is where the most consistent temperature is maintained. There are a few guidelines for storing and using your leftovers to maintain optimal freshness and avoid the growth of bacteria.
Leftovers should be stored in airtight containers as much as possible. It’s important to secure any leftovers to prevent odors from getting out into the rest of the fridge and contaminating your other foods.
Break up any leftovers into smaller containers. Don’t simply place everything into one large container. This cools the leftovers more quickly. While most bacteria are killed during the cooking process, some may still remain. It’s okay to eat small amounts in most cases, but this also means that there is potential for the bacteria to grow if left at room temperature. Smaller containers result in faster cooling of leftovers.
There is no need to wait for leftovers to cool down before placing them in the refrigerator. Hot air rises and cool air falls. Because of this, the other foods placed below the top shelf won’t see much of a fluctuation in temperature and within an hour or two, the temperature of the hot foods should be the same as the refrigerator.
If there is a turkey to be frozen, make sure to remove any of the stuffing and store it separately. This will help the turkey and stuffing to cool down more quickly.
Finally, it’s important to leave space between any leftovers. This will ensure that the leftovers cool down properly and good airflow is maintained throughout the refrigerator. Put prepared foods into the fridge as soon as possible, and don’t leave food items out on the counter longer than two hours.
Bread, Butter and Pasta
Fresh pasta should be refrigerated. However, dried pasta should just be placed in an airtight container in the pantry. Breads also don’t need to be refrigerated, but the cooler environment can help prevent them from developing mold. This is especially true for people who live in a humid environment. The conditions of the refrigerator are controlled, and the cooling mechanism helps to remove some of the humidity from the air.
Blocks of butter and margarine do not need to be left in the fridge. It’s perfectly fine to leave butter on a tray with a cover. However, some butter may begin to separate when it’s not refrigerated. It’s not a bad idea to keep butter on one of the outside shelves of the refrigerator to help maintain the flavor and taste.
Wine, Beer and Alcohol
Beer can be kept in the refrigerator if you want it to remain cool. Also, the cold liquids can help reduce your energy costs by providing a buffer against changing temperatures.
White wines and drinks like Sangria can be kept in the fridge as well, but 40 degrees Fahrenheit is a bit too cold for most wines. It’s better to get a dedicated wine cooler that keeps wine at a temperature of around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the ideal temperature for most wines.
Vodka and spirits that consist of 40 percent alcohol or higher can be kept in the freezer. The alcohol prevents the contents from freezing over. However, it makes more sense to keep these items in the fridge to maintain the flavor.
Irish cream and drinks like Kahlua don’t need to be placed in the refrigerator. The alcohol helps preserve the milk and cream, but it doesn’t hurt to keep it in the refrigerator on a side shelf if there is room. Most of these drinks are typically served cold anyway, so it makes sense to keep them in the fridge.
The freezer compartment should be kept about 70 to 80 percent full. Placing blocks of ice in the freezer to fill empty space can ensure that the freezer stays cold in the event of a power outage. It can also help to preserve energy. The same is true of storing liquids in the fridge. If the power goes out, these liquids can act as a temporary cooling mechanism to provide some cooling to the unit.
Lauren Thomann expert.