While you may typically unload groceries into the fridge and place them wherever they fit, there are actually preferred places to organize them for maximum freshness and longevity. Here are some tips for the most efficient placement of various foods in the fridge.
Fruits and vegetables: Keep fruits and vegetables stored in separate crisper drawers as some kinds of fruits, such as apples, pears and peaches, emit ethylene gas that cause certain vegetables (leafy greens, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers and avocados, just to name a few) to ripen – and possibly spoil – faster.
Meat, poultry and seafood: If you're not planning to use these within a couple of days, take them out of their original packaging, separate them into freezer bags, squeeze out as much air as possible, label them with the current date and place them in the freezer, where they will be safe for a few months. If you're storing them in the fridge for a couple of days, make sure they are wrapped securely (to contain any odors, and also because you don't want anything dripping out and then contaminating other foods) and place them in your fridge's meat drawer.
Luncheon meats:These are worth a separate mention, as while the packaged meats' "best before" date may be weeks or even months into the future, once that package is open, they should be used within a couple of days. Freshly sliced luncheon meats should also be eaten soon after purchase, as the longer luncheon meats and other ready-to-eat foods are stored in the refrigerator, the more chance Listeria, a bacterium that causes foodborne illness, can grow.
Eggs: Keep eggs in their original carton and store them well inside the fridge, not in the door where the temperature is warmer. Keeping eggs in their carton makes sense for a number of different reasons besides physically shielding the eggs from damage — the carton keeps eggs fresher by protecting them from light and temperature fluctuations. The carton also helps insulate the eggs from absorbing any odors from other foods.
Milk: Milk needs to be kept consistently cool, so avoid putting it in the fridge door, which has the most exposure to fluctuating temperatures as it opens and closes. Instead, store milk near the back of the fridge.
Cheese: Follow the expiration dates on any packaged cheeses you buy, recognizing that hard cheeses like Parmesan will last longer than soft cheeses like Brie. In both cases, however, you'll want to protect them further by wrapping them securely in clingy plastic wrap (remove any paper wrapping first).
Before even starting to fill up your fridge, make sure it's set at the correct temperature, which is at or below 40°F/ 4°C, and avoid overcrowding it so that cold air can circulate properly to keep foods evenly and consistently cooled.
Proper refrigeration and adherence to safe food handling practices, including correct cooling, separating raw foods from ready-to-eat foods, and cooking foods to their safe temperatures are wise habits to promote everyday, in every household.
From The Shamez Virani/Virani Team September 2016 Newsletter - Courtesy of Market Connections Inc.