Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Biggest Mistakes You Make Using Your Fridge

Does your milk smell like onions? Your lettuce go limp in a week? What about cold cuts? Are you throwing them out before you get a chance to make sandwiches? Avoid the mistakes below and you may find you're wasting less food.
  • Storing milk and dairy on the door As temperatures are highest on the door, keeping your milk, yogurt, and butter there can shorten their "shelf life". Better to keep them on refrigerator shelves. 
  • Not keeping meat in the meat drawer On most models, this compartment, called the meat drawer or deli locker, is designed to keep foods colder than the rest of the refrigerator, making it an ideal spot for storing raw meat or poultry, cold cuts, or anything that spoils quickly like the smoked salmon, shrimp, or caviar you may splurge on during the holidays. Many of these drawers have various settings -- choose the coldest one,and it may even keep your chicken and hamburger meat slightly below freezing so they'll stay fresh significantly longer. Remember to keep meat, poultry, and fish in containers or bags so their juices can't leak out and contaminate other foods in the locker.
  • Failing to clean the condenser coils If you notice that your fridge temperatures seem to be rising, it could be because you need to clean the coils. This easy-to-do task should be done several times a year and even more often if you have dogs or cats that shed. Unplug the unit, snap off the grate, then use an inexpensive coil-cleaning brush, which you can find at hardware stores, or your vacuum's crevice tool. You may even see a drop in your electric bill as your unit will operate more efficiently. 
  • Not wrapping foods tightly before freezing them You can use zipper-top freezer bags, aluminum foil, or heavy-duty plastic wrap but whichever you opt for make sure to remove all the air by smoothing it around the food. If you're using storage containers, fill them almost to the top so you'll protect leftovers from burn but give the food enough room to expand as it freezes. 
  • Not stashing fruits and vegetables in the crispers They're called crispers for a reason. Keep your Boston lettuce and your broccoli in one of your fridge's produce drawers with the humidity level set to high and you may be surprised at how long they stay sprightly. Use one crisper for veggies, the other for fruit with the humidity levels at low. By keeping a half an onion in a produce drawer, wrapped up in plastic of course, you'll help keep it from flavoring your milk.