The way you use your fridge could be causing your food to spoil faster than expected. However, there's more to extending your food's freshness than just adjusting the temperature. Here, we've compiled nine effective tips and tricks to help you keep your food fresher for longer in your fridge.
Store In Appropriate Zones
To extend the shelf life of fresh foods in your refrigerator, it's important to store them in their appropriate zones, not just anywhere there's space:
- High Zone: For items needing less cold, like cooked meals, homemade sauces, jams, purees, cut fruits, cooked vegetables, and eggs.
- Middle Area: Ideal for dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese.
- Low Zone: Best for items requiring more cold, such as meat, fish, and cold cuts. Also a good spot for defrosting food, to prevent contamination of lower shelves.
- Drawers: The least cold area, perfect for fruits and vegetables. Separate fruits and vegetables into different drawers and allow them space.
- Door: Experiences more temperature fluctuations, so it's better for storing jams, sauces, and drinks.
Check The Fridge Temperature
If you want to get the most out of your food, the temperature in your freezer needs to be between -18°C and -20°C and the temperature in your fridge needs to be between 0°C and 5°C.Quickly reaching and maintaining the right temperatures in your fridge and freezer is essential for preserving the most nutrients in your food.
Don’t Break The Cold Chain
It's crucial to keep your food cold, especially during hot seasons, to preserve its freshness. Carry meat or fish in freezer bags, and it's best to buy these items last during your shopping. Once home, immediately place them in the refrigerator and store them there until you're ready to cook.
Wash Before Consuming
Avoid washing fruits and vegetables before storing them in the refrigerator. Instead, wash them just before you're ready to eat or cook them. Washing adds moisture, which can speed up their decay.
Avoid Plastic For Fruits And Vegetables
Plastic bags are not only environmentally unfriendly, but they also trap moisture in the fridge and prevent food from getting enough air. For longer-lasting fruits and vegetables, skip the plastic.
- Tomatoes, citrus, and various cabbages thrive at room temperature.
- Garlic, onions, and potatoes should be kept in a dark, cool place.
- Asparagus and fennel do well in a jar of water.
- Store eggplants, cucumbers, green beans, chard, and broccoli in the refrigerator for optimal freshness.
How To Store Fish
To freeze fish like tuna, cod, sardines, or sea bass effectively, the temperature should be around -18ºC. For better freezing, consider setting your freezer to its maximum setting for the first hour after placing the fish in. Before freezing, thoroughly clean the fish by removing scales, debris, and viscera if present. Ensure the fish is completely dry before freezing it.
Use Airtight Containers
If you choose to store fresh produce in the refrigerator, it's best to use airtight containers like jars or Tupperware. This method is particularly effective for vegetables that store well in the fridge but are sensitive to humidity, such as cucumbers and eggplants. To further protect against moisture, you can place absorbent paper inside the container.
Cook Or Blanch Vegetables
Most vegetables can be frozen without issue, but they should be cooked or blanched first. This applies to veggies like spinach, chard, zucchini, and eggplant. If you notice your vegetables are about to spoil, freezing them can significantly extend their life.
Fruits can be frozen too, though they often require specific methods. Red fruits and peeled citrus can be frozen raw. Other fruits should be frozen either cooked, as a puree, in compote, or with added sugar or syrup.
How To Store Meat
When you buy meat, whether it's chicken, pork, lamb, or beef, the storage method is the same. As soon as you get home, refrigerate it, placing it on the bottom shelf to prevent any juices from dripping onto other foods.
Keep the meat in the fridge at around 4ºC. If you plan to freeze it, the freezer should be set to about -18ºC. It's also advisable to blot away excess juices with absorbent paper and store the meat in airtight containers to minimize air exposure.