How You Organize Your Fridge Can Keep Your Food Fresher
Certain parts of your refrigerator are colder than others while other spaces (like the shelves on the door) fluctuate in temperature. It’s important to store highly perishable foods that require cold storage in the coldest, most temperature-stable areas of your fridge to avoid spoilage and food-borne disease.
Best organize your fridge for food safety. Raw meat, fish, poultry, and even leftovers – the foods that necessitate cold, stable temperatures – should be kept on the bottom shelf. This also ensures that any drippings will not contaminate other foods on their way down.
The crisper drawers, meanwhile, are intended for fruits and vegetables – but not all fruits and vegetables. Those meant for the crisper include leafy greens, melons, celery, broccoli, and apples, while others can be safely stored on the top shelf. (Apples should actually be stored away from other uncovered produce, as the ethylene gases they produce can cause other foods to spoil faster.)
As for the middle shelf, that works best for cheeses and cooked meats, while the door should be used to store condiments, including butter. You’ll also want to make sure your fridge is kept cold enough — below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4 degrees Celsius.
Store these in a paper bag in a cool, dark place (like a garage or basement) as long as the temperature is above freezing. This will keep onions fresh for more than two weeks. Storing onions in old pantyhose is another option and may help keep them fresh for up to eight months (tie a knot in between each one to keep them separate).
Hard cheeses like Parmesan can last for months if stored properly. Remove the wrapper from the store, wrap the cheese in parchment paper, and follow with a layer of foil. This will help keep in moistness. And if you notice a spot of mold on hard cheeses, don’t throw it away!
Simply cut off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot (keep the knife out of the mold itself so it will not cross-contaminate other parts of the cheese). After trimming off the mold, re-cover the cheese in fresh wrap.
Berries are highly perishable, so eat them quickly for best results. If you need to extend their shelf life by a day or two, rinse them in a mix of one part vinegar to three parts water.
Herbs stay fresh by trimming the stems then placing them in a glass of water, similar to a bunch of cut flowers. A paper towel or baggie placed loosely over the top, and then stored in the fridge, will help keep them even fresher.
Store apples in your refrigerator in the bottom drawer, which has high humidity.
Tomatoes should be left on the counter and eaten within a couple of days. Storing them in your fridge is not an option, as they’ll lose valuable flavor. But if you’ve accidentally stored tomatoes in the fridge, don’t toss them.
Letting them sit at room temp for 24 hours before eating can help to bring back at least some of their flavor. Another option? Use up refrigerated tomatoes in a sauce recipe, where the added flavors from onions, garlic, and basil are likely to cover up the tasteless tomato.
Store potatoes in a cool dark place, and if they grow little sprouts, they’re not spoiled – simply brush them off (the potatoes may even taste sweeter as a result). When storing potatoes, keep them away from onions (this will make them spoil faster). Storing them with apples will help keep the potatoes from sprouting.
Heat triggers spoilage in greens, so douse them in cold water when you get home. Then, dry them in a spinner (moisture will also spur rot) and store the dried greens in an airtight bag.
Punch about 10 pin-sized holes in each side and store in the fridge. This may help your greens last four times longer than usual. Store salad greens in a bowl covered with plastic wrap, and add a paper towel to help absorb moisture.
Eggs can keep for up to five weeks in your fridge. Store them in the back of your fridge where it’s cooler (not on the refrigerator door), and leave them right in the container they came in.
Choose grapes that have bright green flexible stems. Those with brown or dry stems will spoil quickly and not taste as good.
Heat exposure can cause dairy products to spoil faster, even if the exposure is brief. Consider bringing a cooler or insulated bag with you to the grocery store or farmer’s market so you can keep dairy items cold.
Store meat in the bottom drawer of your refrigerator, double-wrapped if it’s near produce (to prevent leakage).