I had no idea that I was doing it all wrong until I started noticing how often my food went bad in the fridge. I would buy fresh herbs, vegetables, fruits, treats and snacks all in hope that it would last me a good two weeks, but lo and behold, one week in and I started noticing the moulding on some, and the withering on the others. I kept wondering if it was just the quality of the produce, or possibly if this is just the way it is… until I stumbled upon a great article by Good House Keeping.
Every shelf in the fridge operates at a different temperature. Yes, I did not know that either! (if you did, good on you!) In addition to this, there are certain veggies and fruits that do not need to be placed in the fridge.
One more thing, you should keep certain veggies/fruits away from others as it releases gas that can speed up the ripening process and make them go bad sooner than later.
With the help of the article from Good House Keeping, this is how you should organize your fridge:
- Top shelf is for all produce that needs limited or no reheating. I keep some of my leftovers, breads, bottles of opened sun-dried tomatoes, open cans of coconut milk and beans here.
- Lower and middle shelves are for dairy items such as yoghurt, milk, cheese and butter. I also store my herbs bundled up, washed and semi dried in these shelves in a flat airtight container or in a sealed silicone bag (depending on the space at that particular time).
- Middle shelves are also for my veggies. In Hong Kong, we unfortunately have a big problem with vegetables from the supermarket wrapped in layers and layers of plastic. I remove the plastic and then place the following veggies and fruits in the large trays:
Foods I place in the middle shelves of my drawers:
- Bottom shelf is where I store the raw meats and fish as it is the coldest part of the fridge. If you are a pure vegetarian household, you can store your chocolates, leftover desserts, and protein bars here.
- The crisper drawers are almost always misused. They are sometimes overstuffed or the humidity setting is incorrect.
Foods I place in the crisper drawers:
- Salad leaves
- Lotus root
- The door shelves are the warmest part of the fridge and best for sauces, or items with preservatives. I also place my eggs, cream and veggie stock here. Soft cheeses and butter can also be placed here instead of the ‘colder’ part of the fridge.
With the help of Better Homes and Gardens, here is a list of vegetables and fruit that you can keep in the fridge:
- Bok Choy
- Brussels Sprouts
- Root Vegetables (Turnips, Rutabagas, Parsnips)
- Summer Squash/Zucchini
- Apples (They’ll do best in the crisper drawer.)
This is the produce that should NOT be kept in the fridge:
- Winter Squash (like Butternut and Acorn)
- Sweet Potatoes
And produce that can be placed in BOTH:
- Corn (up to 7 days)
- Star Fruit
- Figs (up to 3 days)
- Honeydew Melon
- Peaches and Nectarines
Note: there are some veggies and fruits that don’t go well together with others as they release gas, and make the other vegetables and fruit got rotten quicker. These are:
avocados, bananas, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums and tomatoes.
It’s important to clean your fridge regularly, thaw the ice that accumulates at the back and to not overstock your fridge (this is easier said than done, I am totally guilty of this!)
Hope this helps you organise your fridge a bit better!
Update: opened cooking cream should be placed in a colder part of the fridge (preferably the back) to avoid it going stale. Additionally, labelling when you’ve opened produce/ingredients that have a quick expiration date will help prevent you using expired ingredients when cooking.