How to properly store food in the refrigerator

To understand how and what can be stored in the refrigerator, you need to understand one thing. Each product or dish has its own chemical composition. And therefore, its own level of acid-base balance (also called pH) and moisture content. The lower the acidity, the better the conditions for bacteria to multiply. Therefore, a hypothetical lemon pie will lie in the refrigerator much longer than a boiled egg, and will not spoil.

How to properly store food in the refrigerator

The same is with humidity. The more moisture in the product, the higher the likelihood of rapid bacteria appearance. Therefore, meat cannot be stored in the refrigerator for more than 3 days, but a sweet roll will successfully survive after a week. If you do not eat it earlier, of course.

Hence the conclusion – different products have different shelf lives. Moreover, the methods of storing them and the appropriate place in the refrigerator also differ.

And now from theory to practice.

Organizing space

The right refrigerator is the one in which everything lies (stands) in its place. In such a refrigerator, food remains fresh and tasty for as long as possible. Different parts of the refrigerator chamber maintain their own temperature regime. The coldest zone is at the back wall. The warmest is on the door.

  1. We recommend storing fermented milk products, cheeses and eggs on the top shelf. On the middle ones: ready-made products and semi-finished products. And on the bottom – raw meat and fish.
  2. Modern refrigerators are equipped with a special compartment, the so-called freshness zone. As a rule, these are drawers under shelves in which an optimal level of humidity is maintained. These drawers are intended for herbs, vegetables and fruits.
  3. The area around the door is warmest. Therefore, do not store eggs or milk here under any circumstances. But this is an ideal place for sauces and cans of preserves.
  4. Place large containers and tall containers at the back wall of the refrigerator, then medium ones, and small ones at the edge – this is easier to see, and nothing from the food will be forgotten.
  5. Fruits and vegetables that emit ethylene, such as bananas, apples and tomatoes, should not be placed next to other foods. They will accelerate the ripening and, as a result, the deterioration of everything that is nearby. In general, it is better to store them separately at room temperature. And some foods simply cannot be kept in the refrigerator. For example, this causes potatoes to darken, and onions and lemons to wilt.
  6. To avoid having your prepared food take up too much space, don’t store it in plates or pots. Put it in airtight rectangular containers. This is more convenient and will help increase the shelf life of your food.
  7. Never put containers with hot food leftovers in the refrigerator. Firstly, it increases the speed of bacteria spread. Secondly, it harms the operation of the refrigerator and can disrupt the temperature regime. First, be sure to cool the food.

Choosing dishes

  1. Do not leave food in the container in which it was prepared. Especially in metal. Products in such dishes oxidize and, therefore, spoil noticeably faster.
  2. It is best to transfer finished dishes to special food containers or enamel dishes with a tight-fitting lid. If there are no such containers, then you should pack the food in cling film or foil. Dense packaging of products not only extends their shelf life, but also prevents odors from mixing in the refrigerator. For example, if the cheese absorbs the smell of fried fish, it will not be very pleasant to eat.
  3. Oil and fatty foods cannot be stored in polyethylene, as they quickly deteriorate. Use a butter can or wrap the butter in parchment paper. But vegetables and herbs respond well to polyethylene.

What about specific deadlines?

  1. Fresh meat can be stored in the refrigerator for no more than 48 hours. Smoked and raw smoked products are stored depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Read the labels on the product packaging. It is best to immediately place minced meat in the freezer, since minced meat is an ideal environment for bacterial growth.
  2. Store fresh fish for no more than 12 hours on a separate shelf in a bowl covered with cling film on top. Salted and smoked fish lasts in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. See the packaging for exact shelf life.
  3. It’s more complicated with vegetables. They all keep for different periods of time. Cucumbers and eggplants will keep for up to 2 weeks, zucchini for a week, and sweet peppers for about 10 days. Berries like raspberries and strawberries are best eaten right away. Their maximum is one day in an open, well-ventilated container. Cut watermelon and melon also last no more than a day. The cut should be covered with cling film.
  4. Finished products cannot be stored for a long time. In general, food that is more than 2 days old can cause food poisoning.
  5. We recommend storing salads without dressing and adding it before serving. Then they will last longer: up to 2 days.
  6. After opening, it is better to transfer canned meat and fish from the jar into a glass or plastic container with a lid. This will prevent the smell from spreading throughout the refrigerator. And increase the shelf life to 3 days. Do the same with canned vegetables. They will last 2 weeks.
  7. Soups are great for 3-4 days, especially vegetable ones. If you have a lot of broth, you can freeze it and then use it in other dishes.
  8. Any cooked meat and fish should be stored in a closed container for no more than 48 hours.
  9. Cakes, pies and pastries are not recommended to be stored for more than 2 days. Although, as we wrote above, a lemon pie or cupcake will last for a week. But storing sweets is usually the least of problems.

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of Foodstrend.com, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on Foodstrend.com's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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