Keep food from turning—or turning weird colors—with these tips for keeping food fresh in your fridge.
Groceries aren’t cheap, and the fruits, herbs and vegetables you grow are so much better than anything you can buy that you want them to last forever. Forever might be a stretch, but you can extend the lives of all the fresh foods in your fridge with a few tips and tricks.
Keep Fruits and Veggies Fresh
If you buy produce, start by taking a little time at the store to make sure your choices aren’t bruised or damaged. And keep the refrigerator clean, especially your fruit and vegetable drawers, wiping up where last month’s celery (as far as you can tell) turned to mush. That mush is loaded with bacteria that’s packed and waiting to move on to a new bunch of celery or head of lettuce.
Wash most leafy greens before you store them, but hold off on washing most herbs and mushrooms until just before use. Store leafy herbs in the fridge in plastic wrap, secured with a rubber band, and take out stalks as you need them.
Some fruits do better in the fridge, and some do not. For example, refrigerating tomatoes makes them mealy and mushy. But you can halt the ripening of an avocado by putting it in the fridge. Each fruit is unique, and this post gives a great rundown of the best storage tips for common fruits and veggies.
Rearrange Food for Freshness
Take advantage of those two drawers most fridges have and keep your fruits and veggies separate. Fruits emit a ripening agent called ethylene, which can speed up ripening and spoiling of vegetables in the same drawer. So clean out that “miscellaneous leftover” drawer and free it up for your fruits.
Keep milk in the coldest spot possible. Usually, that’s in the middle of the refrigerator. The door is too warm a place to store milk. The same goes for your eggs. Those holders in doors are nifty, but they make your eggs go bad sooner. If you do remove your eggs from the container, write the expiration date on the last egg of the bunch with a permanent marker; memory problem solved! The door is an excellent spot for cheese, though, where it’s a little warmer.
Move older food forward before you go to the grocery store. That way, you avoid buying duplicate sour cream or yogurt because you couldn’t see the hidden container. And you make the oldest selection more accessible.
Other Tips and Tricks
Love guacamole? It’s better cold, so reserve one or two avocado pits and place them gently inside the prepared dip while you store it in the fridge before serving. The pit has natural oils that keep the avocado from browning. Keep leftover guacamole from browning by spraying it lightly with cooking spray.
Wrap cheeses in wax paper before putting them in plastic bags to maintain freshness. And freeze cheese if you can buy it in bulk, especially shredded cheese. Use a scoop to divide it into zipped plastic storage bags, push or suck out the air, and mark the date. It works especially well for recipes like lasagna or enchiladas that use lots of melted cheese.
And when you put any food in your fridge, don’t be in too much of a rush. Let the hot food cool to room temperature, using an ice bath in your sink, before storing it in your fridge. The hot dish makes food around it spoil faster.