Never store these in the refrigerator door
After a trip to the grocery store, unloading food into the refrigerator might seem like a simple process, but it’s not as straightforward as you may think. From the shelves to the drawers and the refrigerator door, where things go in the fridge matters for proper food safety and storage.
Before you store anything, make sure that your fridge is the proper temperature. According to the USDA, “Refrigerators should be set to maintain a temperature of 40 degrees or below.”
Your fridge may already include a built-in thermometer to help regulate the temperature, but if yours doesn’t have that function, you can buy an appliance thermometer.
While the ambient temperature of the shelves and drawers tends to remain constant, the door of the fridge is susceptible to temperature fluctuations. Each time the refrigerator door is opened, its contents are exposed to warm air.
As a result, foods stored in the door are at a higher risk of spoiling, so it’s important to store foods there that can handle the temperature changes.
Read on to learn about the four foods that should never be stored in the refrigerator door — and what you should store there instead.
- Milk. While it may seem like a convenient place to store large gallons of milk, the door is actually the worst option. Warm temperatures allow bacteria to grow, so storing milk in the door, where it will be consistently exposed, will only increase the odds of spoilage.
Instead, the Dairy Council of California recommends storing milk in the back of the refrigerator where the temperatures are coldest.
- Eggs. Although some refrigerators feature a special, egg-shaped shelf in the door, it’s not in the right location to maintain proper egg-storage temperatures. According to the American Egg Board, eggs are best stored on an inside shelf where the temperature is more consistent.
Eggs should also be kept in their original carton, as the AEB notes that the carton will prevent moisture loss and protect the eggs from absorbing any odors or flavors from other foods.
- Fruits and vegetables. If you’re looking to grab a handful of grapes or carrot sticks for a healthy afternoon snack, the refrigerator door provides easy access.
But there’s a better place for fruits and vegetables: the crisper drawers. The specialty drawers “provide an optimal storage environment for fruits and vegetables,” according to the USDA.
Most crisper drawers allow you to control the humidity level, so you can designate separate compartments — one for fruits and one for vegetables. (FYI: fruits need lower humidity while vegetables need higher humidity.)
- Cheese. Similar to fruits and vegetables, there’s a special place for cheese in the fridge, and it’s not the door. Instead, the slim drawer (depending on your fridge’s layout, it may be in the middle or at the bottom) is designed to store cheese.
As the USDA explains, “Additional cool air is directed into the drawer to keep items very cold without freezing,” which is perfect for cheese. This drawer is also a good location to store deli meats.
EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at eatingwell.com.
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