In the next article in our series on food prep, we turn our attention away from the freezer and towards the fridge. We open our fridges multiple times a day but often don’t give them much more thought.
You can buy a basic level fridge for as little as £100, but the more expensive models can cost up to £800. These have more advanced features, such as water dispensers in the door, auto-defrost options and sleek designs. Wherever your fridge sits on the price scale, it’s important to respect the investment and look after it. Read on for a few handy tips on how to take care of your fridge and make the most of this essential kitchen appliance.
How to take care of your fridge
Shut That Door!
This seems like a pretty basic tip, but it’s one of the most important. The fridge has to work twice as hard to keep things inside it cool if the door is open. It takes up to four minutes for the fridge to regain its temperature after the door has been opened.
So reducing the frequency and duration of having the fridge door open will really help to prolong its life. If you’re cooking a complicated meal, try to plan what you need and get it all out at once.
You should also ensure that no warm air is getting into the fridge. You can test this by placing a sheet of paper in between the seals and shutting the door. If the paper is held securely, the seals are tight enough. You should also wipe the seals regularly with detergent to prevent any build-up of mould.
Store Food Properly
It’s important to store leftovers in tubs with lids or with foil or cling film tightly over the top. Not only will this keep food fresher for longer, but it also helps to minimise moisture within the fridge unit itself. Generally, it’s advisable to eat any leftovers within two days.
You also shouldn’t keep open cans in the fridge. There’s still some debate on whether there is actually a real risk of metals “leaching” into your food from an open tin. But most sources suggest that food will last longer and taste less “canny” if it’s stored in something other than the metal tin.
More and more people are opting for glass food storage containers now, due to concerns about plastic pollution. But perhaps the best thing to do for the environment is to use what you already have, rather than buying new glass containers. This could be plastic storage boxes with lids, takeaway tubs or even old ice cream or margarine tubs.
Fill It Up!
Both fridges and freezers operate more efficiently when they are well-stocked. You should make sure that you don’t block any vents or controls though. Don’t overload the fridge either. If it’s over-packed, then air won’t be able to circulate effectively and food won’t be kept at a constant temperature.
You should keep raw meat and other wet food at the bottom of the fridge to prevent any dripping onto other items. These items should also be well-wrapped. Dry food such as cheese, cooked meat and ready-made food can be kept on higher shelves.
Try to do a regular check of what’s in your fridge so you don’t lose track and allow things to go out of date. A lot of people like to keep eggs in their box so that the use-by date is clearly visible.
Another really important tip is not to put hot food in the fridge. This will raise the temperature inside the fridge and means extra energy is used to regulate this back to where it should be.
Final Tips for Your Fridge
It’s no one’s favourite job, but you should clean the inside and outside of your fridge regularly. A good time to do this chore is the day before you do a big supermarket shop when it’s likely to be fairly empty.
Fridges and freezers work more effectively if they’re positioned away from the oven or any other heat source and if there’s plenty of room for air to circulate outside. So if you’re designing a new kitchen, think carefully about the location of the fridge.
If you look after your fridge properly, it will keep your food fresher and last longer. When it finally bites the dust, though, be sure to dispose of it safely. You’ll need to check with your local authority what the best method for disposal is, or visit www.recyclenow.com for more information.