Organize your fridge for maximum freshness
After schlepping to the supermarket and back, you might be tempted to unload your haul as quickly as possible so that you can kick back and relax -- or at least move on to other household chores. But carefully stocking your fridge will help cut down on food waste, not to mention the risk of foodborne illness.
Smart food storage takes into account the fact that climate conditions vary throughout a refrigerator. Consumer Reports offers this step-by-step guide to organizing your refrigerator.
Step 1: The door
In Consumer Reports’ temperature performance tests, which occur in climate-controlled chambers where testers crank the heat up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures on the door climb a couple degrees higher than the main compartment. That’s too warm for milk and eggs, despite the fact that many refrigerators have gallonsize door bins and egg-shaped compartments that seem like ideal places for these items.
Instead, reserve the door for items that can handle warmer conditions, including butter,
condiments, juice, cooking oils, soda and water.
Step 2: The meat/deli bin
This storage option is most common on Frenchdoor bottom-freezers, where it typically sits beneath the crisper drawers. It’s a helpful feature, especially if the temperature can be adjusted to best accommodate a range of foods -- cooler for cured meats, for example, and warmer for a platter of hors d’oeuvres. Items that belong in the bin include bacon, cheeses, deli meats and hot dogs.
Step 3: The crisper drawers
Crisper drawers are designed for produce. On many refrigerators, the humidity can be adjusted from high, ideal for most wilting vegetables, to low, best for a lot of fruits, plus some vegetables with thin skins that like the air a bit dryer.
In the low-humidity drawer, store apples; avocados (once ripe); grapes; mushrooms; ripened peaches, pears and plums; peppers; ripened melon; and summer squash.
In the high-humidity drawer, store broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green onions and leafy greens.
Step 4: The lower shelf
The lower shelf, usually located in the middle of the fridge, tends to be the coldest part of the refrigerator. This makes it ideal for storage of items that are more susceptible to developing harmful bacteria, including eggs (in their original carton), milk and raw fish, meat and poultry (on trays to catch drippings so as not to contaminate other foods).
Step 5: The upper shelf
The upper shelves, conversely, are the warmest part, with temperatures often reaching up around 40 degrees. That’s too warm for milk and eggs, though yogurt is OK because it’s fermented. On the top shelf, store jam and jelly, leftovers, peanut butter, yogurt, and snacks like hummus and fruit cups.
Knowing what goes where in the fridge can prevent spoiling, Consumer Reports notes. You also need to know which foods don’t belong in the fridge in the first place. That list includes bananas; bread (freezer is OK); coffee; garlic; onions (keep away from potatoes); potatoes (keep away from onions); and tomatoes.