While it’s a pretty straightforward decision for some foods, with others, it can be tough to know exactly what should be stored in the fridge and what would be better off in the freezer.
And there’s currently a lot of debate over whether we should really believe the expiration dates that we see on our food’s packaging, as you can see in this Time article, but it’s really important that you don’t take unnecessary risks.
Get it wrong, and best case scenario you have to chuck something out and let it go to waste, or worst case scenario, you and your family wind up with food poisoning!
Why Is It So Important?
Your fridge and freezer aren’t just big cupboards to shove food in, they perform very special functions, keeping all of your groceries fresh and at the optimum temperature.
Food generally needs to be kept at a lower temperature so that bacteria and other microbes can’t grow and ruin your food, but some things can be left for much longer than others.
Most things clearly just come down to common sense, but with things such as seafood which can be dangerous if not stored properly, it can help to know exactly how long it’s safe to keep things for.
While there are many resources out there on the internet telling us how best to prepare our meals, there’s actually a surprising lack of information on how best to store it.
And while the taste of our meals is obviously important, safety always needs to be your first consideration when it comes to food.
Of course, the answer to how long you should store food depends on how quickly you plan to consume it, but there are some rough guidelines which you can follow.
What Temperature Should My Fridge Be?
Firstly, your fridge should have a temperature of somewhere between 3˚C (37˚F) and 5˚C (41˚F).
If your fridge is any warmer than this, you risk the food going off, and any colder and your food will lose valuable nutrients and fresh foods can be spoiled.
As for the freezer -18˚C (0˚F) is an ideal temperature which will keep your food safe and stop bacteria from forming.
Thankfully, this great guide to storing food in the fridge and freezer from SousVideTools.com gives some handy guidelines on how long you can store everything from meat, poultry, seafood to dairy, fruit and veg.
Here are some of the key points from the infographic below:
- Most fish and seafood will last around two days in the fridge (a little longer if cooked).
- Fruit and veg will last longer (closer to a week).
- The general rule is that milk will last a week in the fridge, but always have a quick sniff to make sure it’s ok!
- Cheese and butter are longer lasting dairy products and it will be ok for as long as three to four months.
- A lot of food can be frozen for as long as six to twelve months (although it could come out a little mushy once you defrost it).
Remember: these are just guidelines. As you can see, the amount of time foods can safely be stored can vary greatly, and you should always use your judgement and not consume anything which looks or smells like it has seen better days.
Also remember that many items are better off not being stored in the fridge at all. For example, onions and potatoes are probably better in a cool low moisture environment such as a dark cupboard.
You can check the infographic out for yourself and maybe even print it out and stick it on your fridge!
Featured photo credit: Sous Vide Tools via sousvidetools.com