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the guide
HOME
what goes where (and why)
Like real estate, cold storage is all about location. Shelf or drawer? High or low?
Follow this expert fridge-packing plan to keep contents fresh.
EGGS do best
where the temperature is most
consistent—on the
middle shelf. Store in
the original cartons
(don't transfer to the
fridge egg container).
2. MILK tends to
land on the top shelf,
but it should be on
the bottom, all the
way in back, where it's
coldest.
3. YOGURT, SOUR
CREAM, AND
COTTAGE CHEESE
fare best on the bottom shelf for the
same reason. Stack
items on a turntable
to keep everything
accessible and expiration dates visible.
4. PACKAGED
RAW MEAT should
go on the supercold bottom shelf.
And if juices drip,
they won't contaminate the whole
fridge.
5. VEGETABLES
stay fresh longer with
a bit of humidity.
The drawer labeled
VEGETABLES Of HIGH
is the
moistest spot in the
fridge. Store in the
original packaging or
in a plastic bag,
loosely tied.
HUMIDITY
WHY BAD THINGS
HAPPEN TO
GOOD PRODUCE
Mixing fruits and
vegetables in
the same drawer is
a no-no. Many
fruits (like apples
and pears) emit
ethylene, a gas
142
0012010 /012 I 112AIJIMPLE.COM
that can cause
wilting in lettuce
and premature
ripening in
certain vegetables
(like carrots and
cucumbers). For a
list of foods that
should never
hang out together,
visit realsimple.
com/fridge.
6. FRUIT belongs in
the LOW HUMIDITY
drawer (sometimes
marked CRISPER).
Keep in the original
packaging or in a
plastic bag, loosely
tied (citrus is fine
with no bag).
Tip: Leave vegetables
and fruits unwashed
until you use them.
Water can promote
mold and cause bacteria to grow.
7. DELI MEATS
belong in the shallow
MEAT drawer, which is
slightly colder than
the rest of the fridge,
or (if there's no
such drawer) on the
bottom shelf.
8. BUTTER AND
SOFT CHEESES
don't need to be
super cold, so they
can live in the dairy
compartment on the
door (the warmest
part of the fridge).
Place soft cheeses,
like Brie and goat
cheese, in an airtight container after
opening them.
9. CONDIMENTli
are generally high
in vinegar and salt,
which are natural
preservatives. So
ketchup, mayonnaise,
and salad dressing
are fine on the door.
Same goes for pickles
and jarred salsa.
Olive and vegetable
oils can remain in the
pantry. But nut oils,
like sesame and
walnut oils, belong in
the refrigerator,
also on the door.
10. ORANGE JUICE
can be stored on
the door, as long as
it's pasteurized.
Fresh-squeezed
should be stored on
the bottom shelf.
friending your
fridge
Five ways to show it love
and support.
PUT THIS IN
TAKE THIS OUT
CUT FLOWERS
They'll last longer if
you store them in the fridge overnight.
HOT SAUCE
The peels will turn
black, but the fruit itself will be good
for several extra days.
POTATOES Refrigeration adversely
affects their flavor, so store in the
pantry in paper bags (plastic bags trap
moisture and speed decay). Most
varieties should last three weeks.
RIPE BANANAS
It performs
better when stored in a cool place.
But be sure to let it come to room
temperature before opening the
container to prevent condensation
on the film's surface.
OLD - SCHOOL FILM
NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER Cool
temperatures preserve the oil. Stir once
before refrigerating and it shouldn't
separate later.
Once they're ripe,
refrigerate to prolong shelf life.
AVOCADOS
WHOLE - WHEAT FLOUR Transferred
to a freezer bag, it will last six times as
long in the fridge as it would in the
pantry. (White flour is fine stored there.)
COLOGNE AND EAU DE TOILETTE
Refrigeration can help these fragrances
retain their scent for about two years.
(Perfume, however, should be stored at
room temperature.)
Cold wax can burn more
slowly and drip less.
CANDLES
A cool home improves
longevity. If you stock up on a favorite
color, keep extras here rather than in
the bathroom.
LIPSTICK
HOMEMADE COOKIES They'll stay
fresh longer here than in the pantry.
Place in a moistureproof container. Cool temperatures
extend the seeds' viability.
GARDEN SEEDS
144
OCTOBER 2012 I REALSIMPLE.COM
It can live happily in the
pantry for up to three years.
BREAD The refrigerator dries it out
fast. Instead, keep what you'll eat
within four days at room temperature
and freeze the rest.
They like their original mesh
bag (or any bag that allows for air
circulation) in the pantry. But keep
them away from potatoes, which emit
moisture and gases that can cause
onions to rot.
ONIONS
Stash in a drawer at
room temperature. Extreme cold (or
heat) can diminish performance.
1. Check the door seals. A loose
seal allows cool air to seep out, wasting
energy and causing your fridge to
work harder than it needs to. First
make sure the seals are free of food
residue. (Clean them about twice a year,
using a toothbrush and a solution of
baking soda and water.) Then try the
dollar-bill test: Close the bill in the
door so that half is in and half is out. If
it slips out easily, you may need to
have the door seals checked by a pro.
2. Keep the coils clean.
When the
condenser coils (see following page
for more on parts) are covered
with dust, the refrigerator can't run
efficiently. Twice a year, pull the
machine from the wall to reveal the
coils in back (or snap off the grille,
if the coils are on the bottom front),
unplug the refrigerator, and vacuum
with the brush attachment.
3. Set the right temperature.
Keep the fridge between 37 and 40
degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer at
0 degrees.
BATTERIES
GARLIC It will do well for two months
in the pantry. Store loose, so air can
move around it.
They can get mealy in
the fridge, so leave them on a counter,
out of plastic bags. To speed ripening,
store in a paper bag. Once ripe, they'll
last for about three days.
TOMATOES
The fridge (and the freezer)
create condensation, which can affect
the flavor of both ground coffee
and coffee beans. Coffee fares best in
an airtight container in the pantry.
COFFEE
NAIL POLISH Keeping it in the
fridge can cause it to thicken. Store
at room temperature, away from
direct sunlight.
Varieties such
as acorn, butternut, delicata, and
spaghetti will last for about a month
or more in the pantry.
WINTER SQUASHES
4. Fill it up (even if you never
cook and only have takeout).
Refrigerators need "thermal mass"
(a.k.a. lots of stuff) to maintain
low temperatures. Cool foods and
drinks help absorb warm air that
streams in when you open the door.
If you're the eat-out type or your
fridge is too big for your needs, store
a few jugs of water in there.
5. Be prepared. If the power goes
out, keep the doors closed and use
foods from the pantry. An unopened
refrigerator will keep food safe for
four hours; a freezer will maintain its
temperature for 48 hours if full and
24 hours if half-full.
HOME
A BRIEF HISTORY OF
REFRIGERATION
(Nothing like a time line to remind
us all how good we have it.)
PREHISTORIC TIMES
Early man stashes hunted game in
cool caves or packs it in snow.
CIRCA 500 B.C.
In Egypt and India, people make
ice on cold nights by leaving
out earthenware pots full of water.
the guide I
•
the ice fairy, or how
a fridge works
In the refrigeration cycle, there are five
basic components: fluid refrigerant;
a compressor, which controls the flow
of refrigerant; the condenser coils
(on the outside of the fridge); the
evaporator coils (on the inside of the
►
ansion
exp device
fridge); and something called an
expansion device. Here's how they
interact to cool your food.
• evaporator coils
1. The compressor constricts the
refrigerant vapor, raising its pressure,
and pushes it into the coils on the
outside of the refrigerator.
1550
First known use of the
word refrigerate.
CIRCA 1781
The first icehouse in America is
dug, in Philadelphia. It utilizes
cool underground temperatures.
2. When the hot gas in the coils
meets the cooler air temperature of
the kitchen, it becomes a liquid.
3. Now in liquid form at high
pressure, the refrigerant cools down
as it flows into the coils inside the
freezer and the fridge.
1792
Thomas Jefferson subscribes to
a summer ice service.
compressor
4. The refrigerant absorbs the heat
inside the fridge, cooling down the air.
1805
Massachusetts entrepreneur
Frederic Tudor sells ice harvested
from a pond on his family farm.
5. Last, the refrigerant evaporates to a
gas, then flows back to the compressor,
where the cycle starts all over.
1850
Professor Alexander Twining of
New Haven, Connecticut,
invents the mechanical ice
machine, which eventually makes ice available to all.
REAL SIMPLE'S PANEL
OF FRIDGE EXPERTS
CALL A PRO IF...
1913
American inventor Fred W. Wolf
sells the first electric
refrigerator for the home,
called the Domelre.
...the fridge isn't cooling well.
Assuming the door seals are tight and
the condenser coils are clean, there
could be a problem with the thermostat.
(Check the freezer for frost; that's a
telltale sign.) This is the best-case
scenario, as a new thermostat will run only about $200. Worse?
It could be the compressor. That's so expensive to replace ($500
to $700), it might make more sense to buy a new machine.
1948
Frigidaire introduces a
refrigerator with a separate
freezer section.
...there's a puddle under the refrigerator or moisture
on the seal. The mullion heater—a mini heater embedded
1996
The Regulatory Clean Air Act
passes, requiring refrigerator
manufacturers to abandon Freon
in favor of chemicals that do less
harm to the ozone layer.
2011
Samsung introduces a touchscreen Smart Fridge that lets
you stream music, tweet,
search the Web for recipes, and
record voice messages.
•
condenser
coils
in the unit, which counters condensation—may have burned out.
Or you may have a faulty door seal.
...the fridge is making strange noises. If you hear
thumping, the compressor could be shot (see above). If it's more
of a squealing sound, you might need a new freezer fan,
which will cost about $200.
•
Sandra Phillips, a cleaning
authority and the author
of A Clean Break.
Doug Reindl, a professor
of engineering at the
University of WisconsinMadison and the director of
the Industrial Refrigeration
Consortium, in Madison.
Donna Smallin Kuper, a
clutter-busting pro and the
author of How to Declutter
and Make Money Now.
Virginia Willis, an Atlantabased chef and the author
of Basic to Brilliant, Y'all.
*Chilling tales
Want to hear about the
oddest (and grossest) things
Real Simple readers have
found in their fridges? Go to
realsimple.com/tales.
OCTOBER 2012 I REALSIMPLE.COM
147
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