How To Keep Food Fresh Longer In The Fridge: Tips & Tricks
Nobody likes to throw away food, especially if it's been in the fridge for a while. Unfortunately, sometimes it's just unavoidable. However, there are some things you can do to keep your food fresh for as long as possible.
One of the best ways to keep food fresh in the refrigerator is to store it in airtight containers. This will help to keep out moisture and oxygen, which can cause food to spoil. You can also use plastic or aluminum foil to wrap your food tightly.
In this blog post, we'll give you some tips and tricks on how to keep your food fresh longer in the fridge!
Check the Fridge Temperature
Keeping foods refrigerated at the right temperature is key to prolonging their shelf life. "The colder the fridge, the longer things will last,” says Jonathan Deutsch, Ph.D., a food and hospitality management professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
According to the FDA, the ideal temperature for a refrigerator is below 40 °F. Higher than that, your foods will start to spoil quicker as it will allow bacteria to multiply rapidly. On the other hand, the foods in your fridge will start to freeze if it's too cold (32 °F and below).
To keep the food fresh and reduce the risk of food poisoning, Deutsch suggested that the fridge should be set between 35 to 40 °F (or just under 4 °C). You can check your fridge's temperature and adjust the settings accordingly. Unfortunately, not all built-in temperature gauges are accurate, and some refrigerators don't even have one.
In this case, you can use an appliance thermometer to check and monitor the temperature inside your fridge. You can also use a regular kitchen thermometer if you don't have a fridge thermometer. Simply insert the thermometer into several places in your fridge, check the temperature, and adjust it accordingly.
If your fridge temperature is still too warm, try to move your fridge away from heat sources like the oven, dishwasher, or radiator. You can also check the refrigerator's door seals to ensure that they are airtight and that there are no gaps.
Additionally, you should avoid opening the fridge door too often. Every time the door is opened, cold air escapes and warm air enters, causing the temperature inside the fridge to fluctuate.
Choose Long-Lasting Foods
One of the most important things to consider when stocking your fridge is the shelf life of the food. You will want to choose edibles that will last long, so you do not have to worry about them going bad quickly. These foods usually have undergone some processing, such as canning or pickling.
Frozen vegetables, organic cheese, smoked meats, hard cheeses, cream cheese, butter, sour cream, pickles, jams, jellies, and pasta sauce are just a few examples.
There are many other options out there, so be sure to do some research on which foods have a longer shelf life. When in doubt, check the expiration date or ask your grocery store clerk for advice.
Separate the Produce
You should always keep your fruits and vegetables in separate drawers or shelves in the fridge. This is because some produce items give off ethylene gas which can significantly speed up the ripening process of other foods.
Produce with high levels of this fruit-ripening hormone include apples, avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, honeydews, mangoes, onions, and tomatoes.
Some fruits and vegetables are more sensitive to the effects of ethylene gas, such as apricots, asparagus, blueberries, broccoli, carrots, grapes, green beans, leafy greens, and strawberries. If you want these products to last longer, store them in a separate area from the ethylene gas-emitting items or where there is less exposure to ethylene gas.
You can also purchase an ethylene gas absorber which you can place in either the crisper drawer or in the main body of the fridge. These packets help to remove ethylene gas from the air and can help extend the shelf life of your fruits and vegetables.
Remove Moisture and Minimize Oxidation
Moisture and oxidation are two of the main culprits of premature food spoilage. Moisture encourages the growth of mold and bacteria, while oxidation causes produce to brown and meats to toughen.
To keep your food fresh for as long as possible, remove any excess humidity before storing it in the fridge. You can do this by patting foods dry with a paper towel or using a coffee filter to absorb any moisture on the surface of your food. If you are storing produce in the fridge, consider using a salad spinner for leafy greens.
To combat oxidation, use airtight containers for everything from leftovers to open cheese packages. It will help keep oxygen out and prevent the food from contacting other items in the fridge, which can speed up the spoiling process. You can also minimize oxidation by wrapping your food in aluminum foil and plastic wrap.
Stop the Enzymes
Enzymes are found in fruits and vegetables and are responsible for ripening. When the produce is picked, the ripening process is halted. However, some enzymes continue to work even when the product is refrigerated, which continues the fruit to ripen and spoil quickly.
To prevent this from happening, remove the stem from the fruit to stop the enzymes from continuing to work. It is especially effective for root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and turnips and can extend their life in the fridge by months.
You can also try blanching your vegetables. It is a process where you quickly dip the vegetables in boiling water before putting them in ice water, stopping enzymes and allowing your veggies to last longer.
Minimize the Cut Surface
There are times that you only need a small portion of your produce. However, cutting vegetables or fruits exposes the inside of the food to air, which causes them to discolor and brown quickly. To minimize this, only cut off the amount you need and immediately store the rest in the fridge.
If you end up cutting off a large chunk of your produce, you can still salvage it by sealing the cut surface with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. It will keep the unused portion from coming into contact with oxygen.
Water Your Herbs
You can extend the life of your fresh herbs by giving them a little drink. Like any other plant, these leafy greens need water to stay alive and fresh. Be sure to research the best way to store specific herbs.
For delicate herbs that need to be refrigerated, such as cilantro, thyme, and chives, fill a jar or container with water and put the herbs in it. Then, store the jar in the fridge with a plastic bag loosely covering it. The water will help keep these herbs fresh for up to a week.
Ensure to snip the ends of the stems before placing them in the water. This will help them absorb more water and stay fresh for a longer time. Change the water every few days to keep your herbs from getting slimy.
There are other storage methods available for different types of herbs. For example, you can store your fresh rosemary and sage by rolling them up in damp paper towels, then wrapping them in plastic or placing them in a resealable bag before refrigerating.
Let the Cheese Breathe
We often store our cheese smothered in plastic wrap. While this is fine for short-term storage, it is not ideal for long-term because it does not allow the cheese to breathe. Moreover, plastic wrap traps moisture, which speeds up the aging process and makes your cheese go bad faster and lose its flavors.
The best way to extend the shelf life of your cheese is to keep it in its original paper wrappings. If you cannot save the packaging when you first opened it, you can wrap it in parchment or wax paper, allowing the cheese to breathe and preventing it from drying. Then, place the cheese in a loosely sealed container or resealable bag before refrigerating it.
If your cheese starts to get a little slimy, you can remove the wrapper and wash it with cool water before rewrapping it.
When storing your cheese in the fridge, it is most important to ensure it is properly wrapped, so it doesn’t dry out or mold. With a little care, you can keep your cheese fresh and delicious for weeks.
Wrap Your Leftovers
Cover your leftovers in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before putting them inside a food container. This will create an airtight seal that will prevent your food from drying and keep it fresh for longer. If you are using plastic wrap, press it down so that no air is trapped inside.
Once your leftovers are properly wrapped, label them with the date so that you know when to eat them. If you are storing wet leftovers like soup or stew, use a container with a tight-fitting lid so that the food will not leak.
You can also use plastic wrap to store half-finished wine bottles or open soda cans. Just make sure to tightly seal the wrap so that air won't get in and spoil the contents.
Try Vacuum Sealing
You can try vacuum sealing to take food storage to the next level. It's great for storing meat, fish, and vegetables. You can buy a vacuum sealer online or at your local hardware store.
Simply put the food into a plastic bag and insert it into the vacuum sealer. The machine will remove all the air from the bag and seal it shut. Vacuum-sealed food can last for months or even years without going bad.
Preserve Your Foods
Food preservation is a great way to keep your food fresh and extend its shelf life. Several food preservation methods include pickling, fermentation, freezing, canning, and drying.
Pickling is the process of soaking foods in vinegar or brine (salt water). It is ideal for preserving cucumbers, onions, and other vegetables. Pickled foods can last for months or even years without going bad.
Another popular method of food preservation is fermentation, where you allow the food to sit in water and air, encouraging beneficial bacteria to grow. This process creates probiotics, which are live microorganisms that are good for gut health. Fermentation can be used to make sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt.
Canning is a more modern method of food preservation commonly used for fruits, jams, and sauces. When done properly, it involves heating the food to kill bacteria and sealing it in an airtight container. Canned foods can last for years if the jar or can is not damaged or opened.
Freezing is a simple way to preserve food. Bacteria growth is slowed by keeping food at very cold temperatures (below 32 °F). This method is best for preserving meat, fish, and cooked foods that will be used within a few months.
Drying foods is another ancient method of preservation where the food is dried out in the sun or air so that all the water content evaporates. Dried foods can last for months or even years.
No Open Container Policy
The no open containers policy is one of the most important rules for stocking your fridge and keeping its contents fresh.
It may sound like a lot of storage containers, but you can always use stretchable lids that will fit over any container or serving bowl you already own.
So, what are you waiting for? Start using these tips to keep your food fresh longer and enjoy your groceries more. Have any of your own tricks that we didn’t mention? Be sure to share them in the comments below!And if you’re looking for even more ways to make the most of your fridge space, check out our article on how to organize your refrigerator like a pro. Thanks for reading, and happy grocery shopping!