#1 Consider Counter Space
Not all food stores well when it's placed in the refrigerator. Foods like apples, avocados, lemons, limes, onions, oranges, pears and squash keep better when stored on the kitchen countertop. Once these foods have reached their desired level of ripeness, pop them into the refrigerator. This will slow down the ripening process so your favorite foods don’t spoil before you are ready to enjoy them.
Tip: Here is a complete list of foods that should be stored in the refrigerator.
#2 Transfer to Storage Containers
Air is the number one enemy of most foods as it can increase the rate of spoilage. By transferring packaged foods to smaller, reusable storage containers, you minimize air contact, which can help keep food fresher for longer. This small step also helps keep your refrigerator organized and easy to navigate.
Tip: Remember to label each container with a list of its contents and the date of storage.
#3 Pay Attention to Temperature
When refrigerating food, consider food placement. The back of the bottom shelf and back of the top shelf are closest to the refrigerator’s condenser and fan, which means these two spost are the coldest. On the other hand, the middle of the refrigerator door is the warmest spot. When storing your refrigerated food, plan accordingly while keeping these temperatures in mind.
Tip: Leftovers should be kept the coldest to ensure they retain maximum freshness, while items like condiments do well when stored in the refrigerator door.
Wagner also notes that no part of your kitchen’s refrigerator should ever rise above 39°F (4°C). If you are unsure if your refrigerator is maintaining a proper temperature, purchase a standard thermometer and leave it in your refrigerator to ensure accurate calibration.
#4 Factor in Food Placement
Just like you organize your kitchen cabinets and pantry, do the same with your refrigerator. Create specific drawers for fresh produce items like fruits and vegetables or purchase clear containers so you can easily store produce once it has been properly washed, cut and chopped. That way, you know exactly what you have and how much of it is available for use. Also, keep leftovers in one designated spot so you know what meals you already have prepared and ready to enjoy.
These four tips are central to extending the life of your refrigerated foods, but here are some other helpful kitchen hacks that can make your food last even longer:
-Chop greens like kale, red leafy lettuce and Romaine, but wait to wash each until they have reached their maximum shelf life. If you decide to wash these leafy greens,
plan to use them quickly and store any extras in your refrigerator crisper with 1-2 paper towels to help absorb any extra moisture, which may cause spoilage.
-Do not store fruits and vegetables together. Certain fruits like avocados, apples and bananas produce ethylene, which can prematurely ripen, even potentially spoil, surrounding produce. Here is a complete list
of ethylene producing foods.
-Extend the shelf life of fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, mint and parsley by storing them in fresh water just like a floral bouquet. Depending on the size of your herb bundles, mason jars of various sizes can be the perfect storage containers for these fresh bouquets.
-Keep asparagus stalks, chopped celery, peeled hard boiled eggs and sliced potatoes in fresh water to extend their freshness.
-Place raw meat, even if it is wrapped in plastic, to prevent any liquid from dripping onto other refrigerator shelves.
-Store open dairy-free cheese, goat’s milk cheese and sheep’s milk cheese in a container with a sealed lid to prevent any overdrying and faster spoiling.
-Soft herbs and mushrooms should not be washed until they are ready to be used as they will absorb water, which will make them spoil faster.
-Wash berries in a vinegar solution (1 cup of vinegar to 3 cups of water) before storing in the refrigerator. This vinegar and water solution helps kill any bacteria and mold spores that may be lingering on your batch of berries. Dry berries thoroughly before storing. You can even place 1-2 pieces of paper towel with them to absorb any extra moisture.
Whether you utilize the freezer or refrigerator, make foods last longer with these simple refrigerator storage tips.
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