Your refrigerator is the starting point from which all memorable meals begin. It’s a treasure chest whose glow beckons children and adults alike to gaze inside. But most importantly, it’s the loyal guardian of your groceries, working overtime to keep your perishables fresh and safe.
While optimizing space is key to a neat and well-kept appearance, food safety should be your first and foremost concern in fridge organization. You may be aware that different parts of your refrigerator offer different temperatures, and it’s important to know which foods should go where and why.
Here’s how to effectively organize your fridge in a way that helps keep you and your family safe from spoiled food, and keeps your food fresher and more delicious for longer!
Keep It Out
Let’s face it: we often overestimate what belongs in a refrigerator in the first place. Despite popular belief, certain foods such as tomatoes and garlic do not need to be refrigerated. In order to clear up as much free space as possible for perishable items at risk for food-borne illness, common foods like bananas, bread, squash, olive oil, coffee, onions, and potatoes can be safely stored in non-refrigerated areas. Bread, of course, can be kept in the freezer for a much longer shelf life, but does not have to remain in the fridge to maintain freshness.
The Door: Condiments
It’s important to know that the refrigerator door is the warmest spot, even if only by a few degrees. For this reason, all of your condiments (which are high in natural preservatives like vinegar) have a low probability of spoiling and will fare well here. This leaves dedicated room in the shelving and drawers for items that must remain colder. With your door(s) stocked with these hard-to-spoil items, your salad dressings, mustard, ketchup, sauces, salsas, pickles, etc. are at the ready, and can be organized as you wish. We find grouping like with like saves time searching!
The Drawers: Fruits and Vegetables
Often referred to as “crisper drawers,” this part of the refrigerator is designed to help preserve produce. However, without proper climate control, some fruits and vegetables should not be mixed together, as the chemical ethylene naturally produced by some fruits, like avodcardos and pears, can actually cause vegetables to become limp.
Store delicate fruits like apples, grapes, pears, and avocados in low humidity areas, where more air comes in through the vent. Citrus such as lemons, limes, and oranges should be kept in medium humidity, and vegetables prone to wilting, such as leafy greens, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, etc., must be placed in high humidity, where water vapor is held in the drawer.
Depending on its level, humidity is what keeps produce as fresh as possible for an optimal amount of time. So it’s no surprise that humidity technology is now gaining traction and will revolutionize the life of your fruits and veggies.
The Fisher & Paykel ActiveSmart™ fridge (with bottom freezer) boasts many benefits, among them the Humidity Control System. Combined with Foodcare, this feature creates a microclimate within each produce bin, maintaining the quality of fruits and vegetables at the right temperature level. As a bonus — lower ethylene fruits and vegetables can be stored together in this refrigerator’s “mixed fruit & vegetables” bin!
The Upper Shelves: Leftovers and Ready-To-Eat Foods
This is where the essential, no-cooking-necessary foods can be stored. Leftovers from last night’s Chinese dinner or your pre-made lunches for the workweek are perfect in this spot, and leave room on the other shelves and drawers for foods that must be kept at colder to remain safe and cook-able.
Because this space needs to accommodate a variety of shapes and sizes, units like Fisher & Paykel’s ActiveSmart™ fridge boast an uninterrupted, open space in their numerous shelving options, for easy customization in the changing needs of an active fridge. And because those back corners can become a wasteland, the ergonomically designed trays slide out easily. This allows for simple and efficient packing, and finding what you need without unpacking everything!
The Lower Shelves: Dairy and Meat
We have a tendency to keep milk on the upper shelves of the fridge. However, on the bottom and all the way in the back is the absolute coldest spot and the best place. While other dairy products such as sour cream should also be stored in this general area, butter, yogurt, and soft cheeses do not spoil nearly as easily, and can be placed in higher shelves or even in the door.
A helpful tip is to turn the most perishable items so that their expiration dates can be readily seen — this way, you can throw the products out immediately as they go bad (before they have the chance to contaminate other foods or cause unpleasant smells!)
Spills are another culprit of contamination and odor, and are as inevitable as they are time-consuming to clean. Fortunately, you needn’t worry if the items in your fridge were ruined by a spilled drink, soup, or sauce with the Fisher & Paykel ActiveSmart™ fridge. Its design offers safe and secure glass shelving that prevents spills from leaking to other areas below. Remarkably, the shelves are also removable and easy to clean. No more crying over spilt milk, indeed!
Even better, while many refrigerators face the challenge of maintaining stable temperatures and even distribution of cool air throughout each compartment, the ActiveSmart™ fridge consists of forced air cooling, meaning this unique fridge is indeed smarter and more active than the rest — typical innefficiency that may cause spoiling isn’t a problem here.
Finally, it’s crucial to store raw meat and poultry in the back bottom shelves to ensure quality food safety. There are few things worse than suffering the consequences of spoiled meat, but with proper care, this can easily be avoided for both you and your family. Make sure to allow space between these items to let the cold air circulate.
A home’s refrigerator is a cherished friend for many reasons — the main being the unbeatable satisfaction that comes with enjoying our favorite foods. Keeping yours organized not only provides a sense of cleanliness and relief, it keeps your food safe and secure for as long as possible, allowing you to get the most out of your beloved refrigerator. For more tips and reminders, check out this handy infographic.