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.
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
Storage times apply to red meat, poultry and fish.
Raw: 1 to 2 days
Cooked: 3 to 4 days
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
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.
If the temperature in your refrigerator doesn't match the temperature you set, the problem could be the temperature control board—a service technician can give you a definite diagnosis. If the board is at fault, follow these steps to replace it yourself.
Replace the water valve that feeds water to the ice maker and water dispenser if it no longer controls the flow of water.
Learn what to check if the inside of your fridge is wayyyy too warm.
Find out about the new refrigerator sounds you might not be aware of.