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How to store food in the refrigerator: zoning rules

Yulia PoteriankoLife
Properly placed products in the refrigerator will stay fresh for longer

When using a home refrigerator, we often don't think about where to put food and ready-to-eat meals - we just put them wherever there is free space. But this way, food can be stored worse. For example, due to inadequate packaging, mutual contamination with certain microorganisms that are bound to appear in any dish, etc.

OBOZREVATEL has collected some life hacks on how to properly store food in the refrigerator so it does not spoil longer. This includes what to pack food in and on which shelves to place which products.

How to pack food

The cooling chamber is impervious to light and heat but not to air. And air tends to dry out food over time. Therefore, any food, especially food with high moisture content, should be wrapped or covered before being placed in the refrigerator.

Ready meals can be stored either in pots (although this is undesirable) or in special trays with airtight lids. As for vegetables, the plastic bags in which they are packed in stores and markets are not suitable for storage - condensation quickly forms inside them, which leads to the development of bacteria and fungi that spoil food.

Here are some recommendations on how to pack food before putting it in the fridge:

  • Cling film - blocks the evaporation of liquids, so it's good to cover containers with the remains of cooked food;
  • Parchment paper - unlike film, it does not allow moisture to pass through but allows air to pass through, so it is good for wrapping cheeses, sausages, and smoked meats that "mold" without air access;
  • Foil - ideal for storing ready-made snacks, sliced meat, fish, and meat dishes;
  • An antibacterial mat that helps preserve vegetables and fruits for longer. Experts recommend placing it on the bottom of fruit boxes. The membrane used to make the mat allows free air circulation but at the same time protects the flesh from decay;
  • Plastic containers with tight lids are well suited for storing any ready-to-eat meals, in particular, preventing food odors from mixing;
  • Glassware is suitable for almost any food and dishes, except perhaps fresh fruit;
  • Vacuum trays are a high-tech storage method that can significantly extend the shelf life of ready-to-eat food because it prevent bacteria from penetrating and growing inside;
  • Wooden containers are well suited for storing fruits and vegetables.

As for metal utensils, such as pots and pans, it is not recommended to store food in them for a long time due to food's ability to oxidize metal. This spoils the cookware itself and negatively affects the taste of the food. In addition, this is the most bulky option, which will take up a lot of space in the refrigerator.

How to zone food during storage

Although the refrigerator compartment appears homogeneous, different conditions are created on its different shelves in terms of temperature and humidity. Accordingly, it's better to place food and dishes according to their needs.

The top shelves are generally warmer, so it's best not to put food there that you plan to store for a longer time. Instead, it's a good place for ready-to-eat meals and foods such as sausages, cheese, and yogurt.

Perishable foods will be better preserved on the lower shelves. This is especially true for meat and fish that you plan to cook soon so you don't want to freeze them. It's also best to defrost food from the freezer this way, which helps them retain their flavor better.

Drawers are always containers for fruit because these containers create the right level of humidity. But it's important to place fruits and vegetables in them loosely so air can pass through. This way, they won't get wrinkled or spoil prematurely.

The best place to store sauces and drinks is in the refrigerator door. Moreover, such shelves are often equipped with special holders that prevent bottles and packages from falling out when opened.

What not to store in the refrigerator

Not all products are well stored in the refrigerator. For some, low temperature and humidity are, on the contrary, prerequisites for rapid spoilage. Here's an approximate list of such foods:

  • Any tropical fruit, including bananas
  • Apples and pears
  • Pumpkin, zucchini, squash, etc.
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Onions and garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Bread
  • Berries.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL reported on how to set the right temperature in the refrigerator and freezer.

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