Do you know how to keep your food in refrigerator properly?
The working class in Malaysia comprises over half of the country’s population, and probably still growing year by year. Very much adapted to a face-paced lifestyle, our eating habits have also changed from bad to worse these days – fast foods, microwavable foods, frozen foods, freeze-to-pan foods, just to name a few.
However, not all is bad if done the right way. Take refrigeration of food, for example. According to most diet journals, refrigeration and freezing are probably the most popular forms of food preservation in use today, and probably the safest too without involving preservatives and food additives.
Refrigeration is used on almost all foods: meats, fruits, vegetables, beverages, cooked and pre-cooked foods, and many more. The good thing is about refrigeration is that, it has no effect on a food's taste or texture, if done properly.
So what is proper refrigeration, having talked about it twice above?
Everything has its place, they say. This applies to placing foodstuffs in your fridge too. Take a look at the diagram below for example:
HOW TO STORE FOOD IN REFRIGERATOR?
THE TOP SHELF
Nearly all fruits and vegetables (except those listed under "Crisper Drawers."
THE MIDDLE SHELF
Butter, cheeses & sliced deli meats, vegetables
THE BOTTOM SHELF
Raw meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, & leftovers.
THE CRISPER DRAWERS
Lettuce, spinach, kale, collard greens, celery, brocolli, apples, figs, cantaloupe, honeydew & apricots.
Condiments, salad dressing, oils, sauces & acidic fruit juices.
Essentially, the more recommended method of refrigeration is simply separating one type of food from another based on differentiating factors such as shelf life, composition or ingredients, ideal refrigeration temperature and so forth.
On that note, here are some guidelines for you to follow:
On the topic of temperature, do you know how does your refrigerator temperature have a bearing on the state of preservation of the foods? The answer is simple: as soon as your foodstuffs exceed the “cold food” zone and enters the “temperature danger” zone, your once-healthy foodstuffs will not only be attracting bacteria from the surrounding environment, but also become the ideal breeding ground for such organisms.
To give you an idea of how it works, just look at this diagram below:
It is easy to decipher from the above, the "temperature danger zone" is somewhere between 5°C and 60°C, when it is easiest for bacteria to grow in food. So to be safe, refrigerated food needs to be kept at 5° or below and hot food needs to be kept at 60° or above. Within these safe temperature zones, bacteria could hardly survive, provided there are no other contributing conditions. If at all it is unavoidable to have your foodstuffs exposed, we should at least minimize the time that food spends at the “temperature danger zone” in order to keep it safe for consumption.
Certain foods, especially protein-based ones, such as egg dishes and meat, should be kept at higher temperatures before serving to preserve the state and taste:
Certain foods on the other hand, namely leftovers of any kinds, should be refrigerated right after eating so that you don't unintentionally invite trouble to nest on your foods, as leftover foods tend to cool down much faster than freshly-cooked foods.
Here are some tips for keeping leftovers safely inside and outside your refrigerator:
- Discard perishable foods unrefrigerated for 2 hours or more; 1 hour in room temperature
- Cut whole meat or chicken into pieces before refrigerating, smaller pieces will chill faster
- Cover and refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow dishes as soon as possible; and eat within 3-4 days
So what can we tell from the above? Basically, organization is the key. How, where and how long you store your foods play important co-factors in determining how long those foods would last. Not only do refrigerators have different compartments that serve different purposes, they also have different temperature zones for different types of foodstuffs. This basically means that if you’re storing things in the wrong compartment, you're not entirely taking advantage of the refrigeration; which in turn leads to loss of food quality, wastage of money, and less desire to cook at home. All of these results in unhealthy eating habits, reliance on fast foods and so forth. So you end up getting stuck in the catch-22 situation again as every other working class member of society does, as much as you want to live healthy.
So remember, your refrigerator isn't just a closet to store your food away. In fact, these days, refrigerators are so intelligent that they would tell you in which compartment and how much to store for optimal refrigeration. So consider making use of these modern technologies for a better quality of life and perhaps towards healthier living.