We often place too much trust in the temperature inside our fridges, saying, “It's cold enough” , but this is something that should be checked at least once with a thermometer.
The correct temperature inside a fridge should be around 6°C (43°F), in any case, never above 8°C (50°F), otherwise food will not keep so well, or not keep at all. Adjust the thermostat to produce this temperature and modify it according to the season, as the fridge needs to be colder in summer than in winter.
The temperature inside a fridge is not even. It is colder near the top (where the cold is created) than at the bottom. So put at the top everything which needs to be kept really cold, such as dairy products, and at the bottom things like fruit and vegetables that don't need to be kept as cold.
A fridge should always be kept very clean as it is in contact with all our fresh food, so it needs to be cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis (every few months). This means: unplug it, empty it completely and clean the inside with a sponge and detergent.
When you come back from shopping, don't put all the food wrappers straight in the fridge, as they are not always very clean and slow down the cooling process. It is better to “undress” everything before putting it the fridge: take yoghurts out of their cardboard, unwrap fruit, etc.
Similarly, don't put dirty vegetables, such as carrots and mushrooms straight in the fridge, but wash and prepare them first.
A few things to avoid
- Putting something in the fridge to cool it down: this will start the fridge motor, and consumes energy needlessly. It is better to allow things to cool to room temperature, and only then put them in the fridge.
- Leaving the door open between getting 2 or more items out: the fridge starts to warm up rapidly once the door is open, and only cools slowly when it is closed again. You should reduce to a minimum the time the door is left open.
- Putting a dish in the fridge without covering it: smells can be transferred from one food to another and your dish could take on a very odd smell, or pass its smell on to something else, or both.
Better kept out of the fridge
- Eggs: there's no need, they keep quite well at room temperature.
- Tomatoes: they lose all their flavour.
- Strawberries: they lose their flavour when cold, but will regain it on returning to room temperature.
- Naturally matured cheeses: they lose their flavour but will regain it on returning to room temperature
- Oil: may well turn solid.
- Vinegar: keeps well at room temperature.
In the fridge, but beware of…
- Fruit or vegetables in a sealed or knotted plastic bag: they will soon create a humid atmosphere and will rot very quickly. It is better to open the bag, or take them out.
- Herbs: There's no need to stand the stems in water on the windowsill, it doesn't help. It's better to wrap the stems in damp absorbant paper then put them in the fridge in a plastic bag.
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