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Proper storage of food

This is how you can optimise storage space in your fridge

Manufacturers, retailers, and food logistics companies like the Nagel-Group maintain an uninterrupted cold chain to ensure freshness and shelf life of food right up to the refrigerated counters. Once the food reaches checkout, the customer is responsible. Our tips will help you store chilled food optimally at home.

You have probably experienced this; you have just a few items on your grocery list, yet you leave the supermarket with bags full of shopping. There are several things that need to be considered on the way home.

Nutritionist Harald Seitz from aid infodienst Ernährung, Landwirtschaft, Verbraucherschutz e.V. (Aid Information Service for Nutrition, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection, Germany, ) recommends transporting grocery in insulated bags which are offered by most supermarkets even at an ambient temperature of seven degrees Celsius. The shelf life and freshness of food is affected once the cold chain is interrupted. Therefore Seitz says, "Go home directly and put the food in the refrigerator or freezer shortly after shopping." But how do you know what belongs where?

Lebensmittel Kühlschrank Lagerung
© aid

Knowing where: everything has its right place in the refrigerator

You would think fruit and vegetables go in the crisper drawer, but this is not true for all types. Tomatoes, capsicum, courgette, and tropical fruit like bananas and pineapples do not belong in the refrigerator because they change colour, lose their flavour or spoil more quickly. Apples and leafy vegetables are better off in the crisper drawer. It has a temperature ranging from five to eight degrees Celsius. Apples should be stored sans packaging or in a foil with holes so moisture can escape.

Other fruit should be stored in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator so they don't dry out. If you do not store certain vegetables and fruit separately, this could affect ripening times of these vegetables and fruit. For instance, savoy cabbage can turn yellow if placed next to apples; avocados and kiwis ripen faster if they have to share space with apples. You can use this effect consciously to promote ripening or avoid it by storing apples in plastic bags with air holes.

The refrigerator does not have the same temperature everywhere

The shelf above the crisper drawer is the ideal place to store easily perishable food like meat and fish. This is the coolest place, with temperatures ranging from two to four degrees Celsius. The temperatures in the two top shelves reach up to seven degrees. You can store cooked food and dairy products there because these don't need substantial cooling.

Overall, there is a temperature difference of up to eight degrees Celsius in the refrigerator. The door is the warmest part of the refrigerator. The temperature here is around 10 degrees Celsius. Hence, the refrigerator door is the perfect place to store beverages, eggs, mustard, fruit preserves, ketchup, butter, and jam. The difference in temperatures is often lower in new generation refrigerators.

According to Seitz, one of the biggest mistakes made when storing food is not following correct order of storage. In addition to disorder, overloading is also a problem. If you cram too many food items into a small space in the refrigerator, the cold air cannot circulate between food items and so adequate cooling cannot take place.

Helpful tips for proper storage

It is also advisable to separate food not only according to different temperature ranges but also according to food groups. This is because similar food groups often have the same requirements for storage time and storage temperature. It is also helpful to put old food items in the front and fresh food items at the back in order to have a better overview.

You should clean the refrigerator once a month with warm water and all-purpose cleaner or (dish washing) detergent. Spilled remnants or encrusted remains are ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Fill contents from tins in sealable containers. By doing this, you can prevent food from drying out, changing its smell, and becoming mouldy.

In order to save money and to act in an environmentally conscious manner, avoid putting hot food in the refrigerator This increases the temperature in the refrigerator and results in increased energy consumption and increased energy costs. In the event of a power cut, you should leave the food in the refrigerator as the residual cold will hold for several hours. "In case of frozen food, you can buy some bags of ice cubes and distribute them around the food items, if necessary" advises Seitz.

If you follow these tips and organise your refrigerator properly, you not only extend the shelf life of food and save money, but you also do something for the environment.

The refrigerator of the future: communicative and smart

The refrigerator and the freezer are the biggest users of electricity in the household. Manufacturers are constantly working on energy-saving measures. A ten year old refrigerator with energy efficiency classification A uses up to 60 percent more electricity than a modern appliance with energy classification A+++.

In addition to technical advances, manufacturers are also working on smart refrigerators with internet connection which allows it to communicate with consumers. It informs you about the quantity, orders missing food items, and offers recipe suggestions. These modern refrigerators are already on the market, but they are comparatively more expensive. Even so, they could become the norm in the future.

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