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Refrigerator Tips

Filed Under:
Publication Number: P3607
View as PDF: P3607.pdf

Helping Mississippians live happier, healthier lives!

Selection and Storage

  • Fruits and vegetables (fresh, cooked, or cut)
    • Buy in season to improve quality and save money.
      Buy Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in Season! http://extension.msstate.edu/publications/buy-fresh-fruits-vegetables-season
    • Store in separate crisper drawers to keep fresh longer.
    • Keep leftover cut pieces in plastic bags or containers to keep fresh longer.
    • Choose juices that are labeled 100% fruit or vegetable juice. Store these in the door of the refrigerator.
  • Meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs (fresh or cooked)
    • Choose lean or remove the skin and fat when possible.
    • Store raw items on the bottom shelf, separately from fruits, vegetables, and prepared foods.
    • Place on trays or in containers to keep juices from dripping onto other foods.
    • Keep eggs in the carton for longer freshness. Store on a lower shelf in case one is cracked.
  • Dairy (milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese, cheese, sour cream, butter)
    • Choose low-fat.
    • Choose low-sugar.
    • Store milk on a lower shelf at the back where the refrigerator is coldest. Store all other dairy products at the back on a middle shelf.
  • Prepared and cooked foods
    • Keep prepared salads, dips, and snacks in plastic bags or containers with lids.
    • Label and date prepared and cooked dishes and leftovers.
    • Keep prepared and cooked foods on the upper shelf away from raw meats and eggs.
  • Fresh herbs
    • Store fresh herbs from the store in their original packaging.
    • Wrap fresh herbs from the garden or unpackaged store-bought herbs in a paper towel and place in a plastic bag.
  • Condiments
    • Store salad dressing and other condiments in the door of the refrigerator.

Safety

  • Temperature
    • Keep refrigerator temperature below40ºF (ideally 34–38ºF).
    • Remember the danger zone is 40–140ºF.This is the temperature where bacteria grow most rapidly.
  • Time
    • Refrigerate all foods as soon as possible.
    • Do not keep perishable foods at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
    • Safely store cooked leftovers in the refrigerator for 3–4 days.
    • Safely store raw ground meats for 1–2 days.
    • Label and date containers of stored leftover foods.
    • Make sure to use recommended refrigeration times as a guide. If a food no longer looks fresh, do not use it.
  • Cleanliness
    • Clean out your refrigerator once a week.
    • Before throwing away a moldy item, wrap it to prevent spreading the mold. Clean the shelf or container where the moldy item was. Check nearby foods for signs of mold.
    • Place an open box of baking soda on one of the shelves to keep your refrigerator smelling fresh.
    • Do not use cleaners that will leave a strong chemical odor or affect food taste.
  • Additional Tip

    Avoid storing too many items in your refrigerator. Without open space, cold air cannot circulate. Food will not stay cold enough.

Publication 3607 (POD-05-21)

By Samantha Willcutt, Regional Registered Dietitian, Extension Northeast Region; and Carly Terp, Extension Associate, Office of Nutrition Education.

Department: Nutrition Education

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