The Right Way to Store Food in a Refrigerator

 

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We all know it’s best to refrigerate food to slow bacteria growth, but many people don’t know where to store different foods in the refrigerator to keep them at their best. 

The temperature varies in your refrigerator, with the coldest temperature at the bottom.

To ensure refrigerated food stays fresh as long as possible, follow these guidelines.

 

How to Organize Your Fridge

What Goes Where in the Refrigerator

  • Place condiments like salad dressing and mustard in the door shelves, the warmest area of the refrigerator. These items generally keep a long time—either because they’re acidic or contain preservatives— and don’t require the coldest temperature.
  • Beverages, leftovers and ready-to-eat products like yogurt should go on the upper shelves.  
  • Place raw food and meats in the lowest—and coldest—part of the refrigerator, preferably in a meat drawer or bin. Storing them at the bottom also prevents contamination because fluids from raw food won’t leak onto ready-to-eat food.
  • Most refrigerators have crisper drawers designed specifically for fruit and vegetables. Vegetables store best in higher humidity, while fruits last longer at lower humidity.

How Long You Should Store Foods in the Fridge

These guidelines give you an idea how long you can safely store different types of food in the refrigerator—and when something is past its prime and ready for the trash can.

Dairy and Egg

Cheese, hard: 2 to 3 weeks

Cheese, soft: 1 to 2 weeks

Eggs, raw: 3 to 4 weeks

Eggs, hard boiled: 1 week

Milk, cow: 5 to 7 days after Sell By date

Milk, nut or soy, sold unrefrigerated: 7 to 10 days after opened

Meat

Storage times apply to red meat, poultry and fish.

Raw: 1 to 2 days

Cooked: 3 to 4 days

Vegetables

Storage times are for raw, unsliced produce.

Tomatoes: Trick question! They should be stored at room temperature for best flavor.

Beans, snap: 3 to 5 days

Broccoli: 3 to 5 days

Cauliflower: 1 week

Cucumbers: 1 week

Sweet peppers: 1 to 2 weeks

Corn on the cob: 1 to 3 days

Leafy greens (lettuce, arugula, collard): 3-7 days

Mushrooms: 4 to 7 days

Root crops (carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, potatoes): 2-3 months if properly stored

Fruit

Storage times are for ripe, unsliced fruit.

Apples: 1 to 2 months in a plastic bag

Blackberries and raspberries: 2 to 3 days

Blueberries: 1 to 2 weeks

Cherries: 4 to 10 days

Melons: 2 to 3 days

Oranges, limes and lemons: 3 to 4 weeks

Peaches: 3 to 5 days

More Refrigerator Tips

Where you place food in your refrigerator is important, but here are few other things to keep in mind:

  • Allow leftovers to cool before refrigerating them so they don’t transfer heat to the inside of the refrigerator. If storing a lot of leftovers, divide them into smaller containers, to allow the food to cool more quickly.
  • Prevent odors from circulating in the refrigerator by wrapping your leftovers well.
  • Don’t over-stock the refrigerator. Allow room for air to circulate through the refrigerator cabinet and don’t block air vents.
  • Mark your leftovers with the date you placed them in the refrigerator and throw them out after 10 to 14 days.
  • Follow a first-in/first-out rule, placing newer items behind older ones.

Top Refrigerator Accessories

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