Let’s take a look at five important areas in your refrigerator – the door, the shelves, deli drawer, high-humidity crisper drawer and low-humidity crisper drawer – to discover the best refrigerator storage tips to maximize your space, optimize freshness and make creating in the kitchen more seamless.
REFRIGERATOR ORGANIZATION: DO IT LIKE A PRO
There’s something very satisfying, and even calming, about opening up a clean, well-organized refrigerator – and it makes creating in the kitchen easier and more fluid – but fridge organization can be a bit daunting if you don’t know where to begin. Let’s start with the five storage areas commonly available in refrigerators.
It’s important to keep food safety in mind by storing the most perishable items at the bottom of the fridge where it’s coolest and the least perishable items at the top of the fridge, or in the door, where temperatures are a bit warmer.
1. THE DOOR
Because this part of the fridge is subject to the most fluctuation in temperature it should be reserved for condiments and other less-perishable items like butter, soda and specialty items like olives or capers. Store like items together and consider labeling the bins with stickers or magnets for quick identification and easy scanning.
Many refrigerators come with gallon-sized door bins designed for large containers and many people are tempted to store milk in these large bins. However, refrigerator food storage guidelines state that milk should be stored on a middle shelf where temperatures are consistent. Many people also store eggs in the door but this should be avoided as well. Instead, store your eggs on an interior shelf, where it’s cooler.
Consider designating a kids’ area. Keep children’s drinks or grab-and-go snacks at eye level on lower door shelves for quick access.
2. THE SHELVES
Shelves represent the bulk of refrigerator storage capacity. Generally, the lower shelves are a few degrees cooler than the upper shelves you’ll want to store food accordingly. Place your most perishable items like raw meats and dairy products on the lower shelves and foods that require little or no cooking, like prepared foods, leftovers or drinks, on the upper shelves.
Another way of looking at this – foods that will need to be cooked at the highest temperatures will need to be stored at the bottom of the refrigerator and foods that will be cooked at the lowest temperatures, or not at all, go on the top shelves.
You’re more likely to reach for what’s in front of you first so rotate items frequently. Move the oldest items in the fridge to the front and the newest items to the back to avoid food spoilage and unnecessary waste.
3. DELI DRAWER
Deli Drawers are designed to store perishable items like meats and cheeses at lower temperatures to help optimize freshness. On many French Door refrigerators this drawer can be used to store party trays and large platters, making them ideal for entertaining. Some models come equipped with manual temperature controls to give you ultimate control. Shop KitchenAid® French Door refrigerators for more inspiration.
DELI DRAWER TIP:
If your refrigerator doesn’t have a designated deli drawer, remember to store your meats on the lowest shelf – where temperatures are coolest. Consider adding an easy-to-clean clear bin to hold your meats so they don’t leak onto other foods. Using a clear bin will make it easy to see these stored items at a glance.
4. HIGH-HUMIDITY CRISPER DRAWER
Storing vegetables in your fridge can be a little tricky if you’re not familiar with humidity levels. Some crisper drawers are designed with different humidity levels to help preserve freshness and prolong the life of your produce. As a general rule, produce that is thin skinned should be stored at a higher humidity level. So that means, leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, citrus and ethylene sensitive produce like strawberries should be stored where moisture is higher.
CRISPER DRAWER TIP:
Crisper drawers work best when they’re about ⅔ full. So fill them up, but don’t overpack; your fruits and veggies need breathing room. Besides, some of the leafier greens might get crushed under the weight of a hefty stalk of broccoli or heavy head of cauliflower.
5. LOW-HUMIDITY CRISPER DRAWER
Ethylene gas is a natural hormone that certain fruits and vegetables release as they ripen. When exposed to other produce these “ethylene emitters” can hasten rotting so they need to be stored separately at lower humidity levels to slow the ripening process. Store apples, peppers, avocados, pears, melons, and stone fruits in the low-humidity drawer.
CRISPER DRAWER TIP:
There’s no need to wash fruits and vegetables until you’re ready to eat or cook with them. Extra moisture can speed up the ripening process and cause produce to decay sooner.
AN ORGANIZED REFRIGERATOR IS A CLEAN REFRIGERATOR
It’s critical to start with a “clean slate.” Before you begin organizing, remove everything from your refrigerator and throw away any expired items or items that have gone bad. Get the job done quickly and easily with these tips and tricks for how to properly clean and maintain a refrigerator. It’s a good idea to give your refrigerator a good cleaning at least four times a year.
Here are two suggestions to help ensure food preservation while you work:
- Work in sections, cleaning the areas where you will store your most perishable items first.
- Have an ice cooler handy to temporarily store your most perishable items.
REFRIGERATOR ORGANIZATION HACKS
1. LAZY SUSAN
2. EAT FIRST BIN
3. DRAWER LINERS
4. LABELS FOR EVERYTHING
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