How to organize your refrigerator effectively
The summer season is here, which means the food in our kitchen is much more prone to mold, decay and odours. Nothing can be stored outside for long and everything has to be stashed into the refrigerator. You stack your fridge with almost anything and everything to evade the risk of decay. We bring you some simple tips to store foods – including leftovers – in your fridge to keep them fresh for a long time, and minimize the risk of contamination.
Let us begin with the obvious: Freezer is for storing the frozen stuff. Your ice cubes go into the freezer, so do your frozen meat, vegetables, fruits and broth. A number of other food products can also be stored in the freezer to make them last longer, such as garlic cloves, hummus, pasta sauce, chips, cooked rice, etc. Don’t use glass jars for storing as they might crack. Instead, freeze foods in plastic freezer bags or plastic stackable containers.
Doors should be reserved for items that are most resistant to spoiling, as they are the warmest part of your fridge. This should be specially kept in mind if you open the fridge very often. Items like juices and condiments, which can stand temperature fluctuations, should be stored in the doors. Your cartons of milk and eggs which are at a higher risk of fostering bacteria must not go into the fridge door.
The upper shelves of your refrigerator have the most stable temperature. A simple strategy is to place foods that don’t need cooking near the top of the fridge. This may include drinks, leftovers, and various ready-to-eat items like deli meats, tortillas and hummus.
The leftovers should be stored in airtight, leak-proof clear containers or wraps. You may split leftovers into small, flat containers so that they cool faster. Some bacteria spores survive the cooking process and may germinate if the food is left at room temperature for long. Hence, you should always refrigerate leftovers within two hours of cooking. And you need not wait for piping-hot foods to cool down before storing them – modern refrigerators can handle the heat. Also, don’t stuff the refrigerator too full. Cool air needs to circulate to keep food at a safe temperature. Make it a point to leave a little room between your leftovers.
Keep the herbs fresh for a long time by placing them upright in a water-filled container, loosely covered with a plastic bag. You can also store them in a plastic container with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Berries are quite fragile and should be consumed within a day or two of washing. Store them in the top shelf during this time.
The lower shelves are the coolest, and are best for storing eggs, seafood, raw meat, and dairy items, all of which require cold temperature. Always keep the meat in its original store packaging and assign it a separate section in the fridge. Re-wrapping exposes them to harmful bacteria. You may also place a sheet or tray underneath meats to catch any drippings.
Leave milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and cream in the containers they came in. But after you transfer milk to a pitcher or cream into a serving bowl, never return them to the original pack. Instead, cover the bowl or pitcher tightly with plastic wrap or a cling sheet. Store hard cheeses in the store wrapping until you use them. Thereafter, you can wrap them in foil, wax paper, or loose plastic.
Plastic milk bottles are suggested over cardboard cartons, since bacteria can grow near the cardboard spout and enter the glass of milk every time you pour. Nevertheless, milk is safe to drink as long as you use it within its shelf life.
Crisper drawers help preserve the fruits and vegetables for a longer time by maintaining moist conditions. But this does not mean you can jumble up fruits and veggies together. Some fruits like plums, peaches, apples and pears release ethylene which helps them in ripening. But unfortunately, this can also promote ripening in surrounding vegetables, causing them to wrinkle, go yellow, and even sprout. So better store fruits and vegetables separately – carrots with carrots, apples with apples, and so on. You should always store fruits and vegetables in perforated plastic bags as they are susceptible to drying out. You need to maintain a moist environment and still allow air circulation. Also, do not wash your fruits and vegetables before refrigerating them. A damp environment can make them mold and rot more quickly.
So this weekend, take out some time, and bring out the clutter from the fridge. Throw away expired sauces, syrups etc., and make way for things you shall consume, and organize your fridge well. Follow these simple tips to arrange items in your fridge to not only improve the aura of your refrigerator, but also save yourself from increased electricity bills.