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People have been preserving food since the cavemen. In fact, humans would store game in cool caves or packed snow during prehistoric times. It wasn’t until the advent of a compressor with a refrigerant in the last quarter of the 19th century that indoor refrigeration was possible. Refrigeration slows down the growth of bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. Bacteria grow rapidly between the temperatures of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Two of the largest problems that people have is maintaining the right temperature (it should be below 40 degrees F.) and cleaning out their refrigerator. A clutter-free refrigerator gives you the ability to keep track of what is fresh and what ingredients you have for recipes. Follow these tips for an organized and safe refrigerator.
The Refrigerator Door
Many refrigerators have egg bins on the door to protect them from absorbing odors. This is actually one of the worst places to store your eggs. Place your eggs in an airtight container and keep them on one of the shelves. You should never store ANY perishable foods on your refrigerator door. However, you can store salad dressings in the door because they contain vinegar, which prevents them from going bad. Both the vinegar and salt in these foods preserve them for long stints of time. Other Items to Place in the Door
How many times have you forgotten about your leftovers in the refrigerator? Though an innocent mistake, it can come with some major repercussions. Leftovers should be eaten between three to four days. Your chance for a foodborne illness skyrockets beyond that. Another good way to prevent bacteria growth is to keep your meats, poultry and dairy products on the bottom shelf, because this area is the coldest part of the refrigerator. Storing meats on the bottom shelf will also prevent any of their juices from contaminating other shelves. Getting a good view of expiration dates is difficult when food is stacked. To remedy this problem, write expiration dates on price tag stickers or labels. Stick the labels on the side of food packages, so that they are easy to see.
Refrigerators commonly have special drawers for vegetables, meats and dairy products. Vegetables need to be kept at a higher humidity than fruits. Be sure to separate out your produce in to two separate drawers. Adjust your humidity to high for vegetables and low for fruit. Oftentimes, meat drawers will have adjustable temperatures. You may have to test your drawer to find out what temperature will keep you items very cold without actually freezing them.
Each week, inspect your refrigerator for any spills and clean out old food. Use hot water and soap for cleaning. Cleaning products with solvents leave chemicals behind that will cause certain types of food, like butter, to absorb the smell. An open box of baking powder helps prevent other foods and leftovers from imparting their smells to other foods. Organizing your refrigerator is not only an important step for keeping your food safe, but it also helps you plan meals or use up food items. Think of the inside of your refrigerator as an extension of the home to help you keep it spick-and-span.