Used correctly, your refrigerator will keep food safe from spoilage and bacteria.
Used incorrectly, it could cause big trouble.
It could make you sick.
Essentially, no food benefits from storage. You want to eat everything as fresh as you can.
But since we can't all tromp out to the garden to harvest produce for each meal, here are 7 tips to help your fridge function at its best.
To keep food from spoiling, temperature monitoring is essential. The interior temperature needs to be between 34 degrees and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can't depend on the little gauge (1-5) in the fridge.
Get a temperature sensor or a temperature monitor.
Some parts of your fridge are colder than others.
The meat compartment at the bottom is designed to store meat, for example - and it's the coldest place in the fridge. So put meat there.
Not only is this the coldest area, but if a package leaks, it won't contaminate other foods.
The door is the warmest part of the fridge. This is the best place for nonperishables (sodas) - not perishables like eggs.
Don't put hot food in your fridge. Bring it to room temperature before refrigerating it. Hot food can cause temperatures to drop rapidly - putting the safety of your food in jeopardy.
On the other hand, don't leave food out too long, either. Refrigerate prepared food within two hours of cooking (one hour in the summer).
Don't overload your fridge.
Parties are a dangerous time because you stuff a lot of food into the fridge, and then you're continually opening the door. Temperature monitoring is important here, too.
Turn the temperature down during these occasions to keep the food inside cold.
Cover foods tightly. Leave meats in their original packaging to prevent spreading bacteria.
Don't store breads, cookies, or most types of cakes in the fridge; they'll become stale.
If you lose power, open the door as little as possible. If the door is rarely opened, food should keep 8 hours in the fridge and 48 hours in the freezer.
About the Author
Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.