Refrigerators can be a messy business. They can hide things that you forgot about long ago or keep little bits of food that never get eaten. They quickly become a jumble of goods that can sometimes turn bad. Americans still waste up to a third of their food each year. The organization of your refrigerator can help. Taking from the practices of professional kitchens, here are some helpful guidelines.
What Goes on Top
Leftover items, drinks, snacks, and yogurt are best for the top of the refrigerator shelves. This arrangement makes for easier access and may encourage you to eat the already-cooked items first. Because leftovers are already cooked through, they can afford to sit higher in the refrigerator, where the air is slightly warmer than at the bottom.
What Goes in the Middle
Eggs, milk, and raw meats may go on the middle shelf in the fridge. Eggs and milk spoil more easily, so they need to sit in the middle of the space. Raw meat requires special storage, as accidental drippings from any meats like fish, poultry, pork, or beef would contaminate the interior and other foods. If you do not keep raw meat in one of the bottom drawers, you can secure it in a clear, plastic bin or a plastic bag to avoid spillage. The center space is also where you will likely find room for condiments like jams, peanut butter, pickles, cheeses, and deli meats.
What Goes in the Door
The door is the warmest part of the refrigerator since it has the closest access to the outside air. Products like butter, juice, condiments, soda, and water often go here. If your refrigerator has an egg-carton shaped shelf in the door, don’t be fooled. Use it for something that can take the heat.
What Goes at the Bottom
The ideal storage for fruits and vegetables depends on the relative humidity. Many refrigerator models feature humidity controls for the drawers. Produce that store better in lower humidity include most fruits (apples, pears, grapes, peaches, plums, etc.) and mushrooms, squash, and peppers. Produce that keep well in higher humidity are hearty vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and green onions, as well as leafy greens.
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