If you find your groceries spoiling quicker than they should, there’s a good chance you’re stacking your fridge wrong…
Picture this: It’s a balmy autumn day and you’re in the mood for salad. You reach into the fridge for that fresh head of lettuce and cucumber you bought just a few days ago… but what you discover in their place is a puddle of green goo and a handful of frozen leaves that disintegrate in your hands. Looks like it’s baked beans for dinner again.
It’s a sorrowful tale, but one that’s all too familiar (trust me, I know). The good news? If you stack your fridge the right way, your greens will remain edible for longer than 24 hours.
If you're anything like me, you probably treat stacking your fridge like an icy game of Tetris - especially if it's on the small side. You shove everything in wherever it fits, shut the door, and get back to your life. (Or, let's be honest, that load of washing.)
However, the process should be a little more organised than that. Hate to break it to you, but your fridge contents should be sorted according to the temperature and location of each shelf and compartment.
Here's a guide:
The bottom shelf
This is the coldest part of the fridge, making it ideal for storing yoghurt and cream, and meat, poultry and seafood (baby spinach, not so much...). Keeping raw meat wrapped up and down low also prevents bacteria-laden juices from wreaking havoc on the rest of your groceries, which your immune system will thank you for.
The middle shelves
This where you should place dips, deli meats and airtight containers of leftover meals – ensuring cooked food is stored as far away from raw items as possible. Eggs can also go here.
The top shelf
Dairy products like butter and soft cheeses can live here happily as the temperature is most constant up high, and if there’s sufficient room put your milk up there too. Although the fridge door seems like the obvious place for milk, the temperature fluctuations caused by opening and closing can cause it to spoil early and ruin your Weetbix. (Nobody likes sour milk first thing in the morning.)
Being the warmest part of the fridge, the door is better suited to less perishable items like sauces, dressings, pickles, pasteurised fruit juice, soft drink… and that lovely bottle (or four) of sauv blanc you’ve been eyeing off all day.
It's also recommended you don't store eggs in the door, even though egg storage inserts would suggest otherwise. Deceptive, I know.
The salad crisper
Well, this one’s fairly self-explanatory, although it’s advisable to properly dry your fruit and veggies if you wash them before storing to slow their deterioration. Keeping them in perforated plastic bags can also help.
As for those poor, sensitive cucumbers? Wrapping them in paper towel first will prevent them from liquefying.
Moral of the story? A little care when unpacking your groceries will increase the more chance of them living a long(ish), happy, bacteria-free life.
What are your tips for making the contents of your fridge last longer? Share them below.