Tips for Keeping Food Fresh Longer
Food storage has been one of the most complicated dilemmas for mankind since the start of our existence. We have gone through a variety of primitive methods for extending our gathered food’s lifetime, and over many decades and generations; we have advanced in this field to a tremendous degree.
We now possess the modern marvel of food storage that most Americans take for granted: the refrigerator!
The concept of refrigerating food has only been around since the mid-1750s. This was the beginning of using cold storage as a method to extend the shelf life of food.
We didn’t get to use refrigerators in the home until about 191, when the first home use refrigerators hit the market.
Even though we all now possess this fantastic device, and are able to store food for a much longer time than before, we still throw away an average of 14% of all of the food we buy. How is this possible?
Most of the time, the primary culprit is rather simple. We store our groceries in the wrong location inside the refrigerator.
Luckily, this is a problem that can easily be remedied by learning what should go where when you come home from your favorite grocery store. This knowledge will help you make your food last even longer, and in the long run, save you quite a bit of money on groceries that you no longer have to throw away.
Before we dive into each individual item and explain exactly where to store it, we should approach the refrigerator as a whole and let you know which section is best for what types of food.
Top 4 Refrigerator Food Storage Tips
Here is a simple guideline that you can follow to help keep your food fresher longer:
In most refrigeration units, this is the warmest part of the refrigerator. It is ideal for storing already premade or cooked items such as leftover foods, butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and yogurt. In some rare instances, the top shelf can actually be the coldest section, due to a lack of insulation of the cold air coming down from the freezer.
This usually only happens in older models that are on their last leg, but we do recommend checking your refrigerator to see if this is the case for you. Also, even though most refrigerators have a section in the door to put your eggs, we suggest storing your eggs on this shelf.
This is the coldest section of your refrigerator. We recommend you store all raw meats, fish, chicken, and anything organic should be kept here. Storing these types of items here will also ensure that if there is any leakage then it won’t mix with pre-made cooked foods.
Make sure all the raw food is stored in sealed zip lock bags.
As you may have guessed from the name, these are designed for your vegetables and fruit. Anything from the produce department should go here.
You should have two drawers; try to separate your vegetables into one and fruit into the other.
This section is a bit tricky because it can have both cold and warm sections. This is due to the heat from the kitchen and the direct cold air from the refrigerator.
Because of these temperature fluctuations, we suggest storing things like condiments, jams and sauces here. The bottom of the door rack, depending on your fridge design, can be ideal to store bottled beverages.
Where Each Type Of Food Should Go
Now that we know which section is designed for which types of food, we can look into how to increase storage time for each type of item separately.
Fruits and Vegetables:
- Using paper towels to line the bottom of your salad drawers is a wonderful idea. This will keep a lot of moisture away from your produce and reduce the chances of them rotting.
- Lettuce, on the other hand, needs moisture to stay crisp, so we suggest wrapping it in a damp piece of paper towel then placing it into a plastic bag.
- You can do something similar to mushrooms to keep them from going slimy, but make sure you use a dry paper towel this time.
- Apples are to be kept away from all other produce. They give off a type of gas that harms other fruits and vegetables, causing them to spoil.
- Bananas stay fresher in a bunch, so don’t separate them until you are ready to eat them
Meat, Fish, and Eggs:
- Always store eggs in their original carton. You can easily check whether they have spoiled by placing an egg into a cup of water. Fresh eggs will sink, but the spoiled ones will float.
- If you are planning to use your store bought meat within two days then leave it in original packaging. If not, wrap the meats in foil and freeze. Smoked meats should be wrapped in vinegar soaked cloth and wax paper, and then stored in the fridge.
- Fresh store-bought fish should be kept on top of ice and placed in the fridge if you are planning to eat it immediately. If possible, it is also a good idea to keep it on ice throughout its trip from the store. Freezing fish is also an option, although I would not suggest it.
Bread and Cereal Products:
- Do not store bread in the refrigerator, it will actually spoil faster. Your best option is to store it in a designated cupboard inside of a tightly sealed bag.
- A nifty trick you can do with unused flour is to freeze it for 48 hours, seal it in a bag, and then place it into a dry, dark place. The freezing will kill any potential insect eggs. (Yuck!)
Dairy Products and Cheeses:
- Butter can be bought in bulk whenever it is on sale since you can freeze as much of it as you want. Only keep one or two sticks in the fridge, and store the rest in the freezer in its original packaging.
- Never keep milk in the side door, always keep it in the main part of the refrigerator. This is for the same reason we keep eggs there: it’s a more reliable temperature.
- All cheese should be wrapped in wax paper when stored. Edges of hard cheese that have been cut can be rubbed with butter to keep them from hardening.
We hope you will follow these easy tips to prolong the lifespan of your groceries. Remember to keep the temperature of your refrigerator between 38 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and always plan to cook and eat items that have a shorter shelf life first