Food hacks for the fridge

    It’s the buzzing center of every kitchen: the fridge. Although it’s been around for decades, there are still many fridge mysteries. What belongs in each compartment? How can I save energy?  How do I make perishable food last longer?  Here are tips for a better organized fridge that saves energy and keeps food fresh longer.

    What goes where in the fridge?

    Different compartments are designed for different foods.  The fruit and vegetable drawer at the bottom keep produce fresh and crisp longer. The drawer above is the coldest in the fridge, so this is the best place for meat, poultry or fish.  Dairy products belong on the shelves in the middle of the fridge - yes, even opened cartons of milk, which many people store in the door. Pre-cooked food, unopened products or marmalade store well on the top shelf.  The door compartments are slightly warmer, so this is the ideal place for less perishable food such as sauces, mustard, olives, eggs, wine or juices.

    Which temperature is correct and how can I save energy?

    The optimum refrigerator temperature is about 41 to 45 degrees F. There are now many energy-saving models, but there are also many things you can do to save electricity:

    ● Be careful not to leave the fridge door open longer than necessary, and open it only when you really need it 

    ● Buy the refrigerator that is the right size for your daily needs: a half-empty refrigerator consumes more energy than a full one, because air conducts heat better than food.

    ● Regular defrosting is important: once or twice a year, defrost it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

    ● Check that the door always closes well and replace the seals if necessary

    ● If possible, place the refrigerator in a cool place in the kitchen.  It should not be next to the stove or oven, or in front of a heater.

    ● Combination appliances with integrated freezer consume more power than refrigerator and freezer individually

    How do I make my foods stay fresh longer?

    In addition to storing each item in the right fridge compartment, make sure your fridge is clean.  A hygienically clean refrigerator can help deter spoilage and molding of food. A refrigerator that is rarely cleaned can have more bacteria than a toilet! The good news is that a fridge is very easy to clean. A solution of warm water with a little vinegar kills fungal spores, disinfects, and removes stains. Every 4 to 6 weeks, the refrigerator, including rubber seals, should be cleaned and wiped with clear water. Another tip is to put food in airtight containers.  With any food item, the less air gets to the food, the fresher it stays.

    Which products do I have to store in the fridge?

    The short answer is: if it is cooled in the supermarket, it should be stored in the fridge. Particularly vulnerable are dishes with raw eggs, minced meat, poultry and fish. In addition, many vegetables will keep longer in cool storage. This is especially true for mushrooms, sprouts and lettuce, as well as fresh berries. Also certain high-quality vegetable oils must be kept in the refrigerator, such as linseed oil, cold-pressed sunflower oil or sesame oil.

    What should not be stored in the fridge?

    For some products, the refrigerator can spoil their taste, texture and natural preservative properties. This is how fresh tomatoes lose their aroma and fail to ripen. Bread becomes hard faster in the fridge, potatoes become floury, garlic sprouts and delicate basil becomes dark and limp. None of these foods belong in the fridge. Incidentally, coffee in the fridge attracts strange smells - a great home remedy for unpleasant odors. But if you prefer to drink it, store your coffee in an air-tight container in the pantry.

    Image: © evgenyatamanenko