Our refrigerator runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Many of us make fundamental mistakes when using it. The result: germs multiply, unnecessarily much electricity is wasted and food moulds unnoticed. We show the most common fridge errors – and how to avoid them.
10 Refrigerator Food Storage Mistakes That Are Costly and Wasteful
Put food wet in the fridge.
Many of us wash our fruit and vegetables right after shopping. That’s not a bad idea – but you should dry the food thoroughly before you put it in the fridge, because: With moist fruit or vegetables, bacteria, mould or germs can form faster.
Incorrect food in the fridge
Some foods don’t belong in the fridge; some don’t need it cool, others even hurt the cold. What you should not store in the refrigerator:
- Tomatoes: They lose their aroma there and can mould faster.
- Edible oils – olive oil, for example, becomes fluffy in the refrigerator.
- Bread: Bread doesn’t get enough air in the fridge – moisture forms faster, and the bread moulds more easily.
- Citrus fruits: Lemons, oranges, grapefruits or mandarins tolerate the cold badly.
- Garlic and onions: In the fridge, it is too moist and too cold for them.
Misrepresent the refrigerator
If you give your fridge the right place, make sure that the purchases last as long as possible because not every place in the refrigerator is equally suitable for all foods. A well-received refrigerator also consumes less electricity – and thus less money.
Generally speaking, warm air rises upwards. Therefore, the upper compartments in the refrigerator are slightly less cool than the lower compartments. Accordingly, you should admit your food:
- Easily perishable foods such as meat, sausage and fish belong in the lowest compartment.
- Medium compartment: Dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt or quark
- Eggs, butter and margarine, do not need to be refrigerated as much – top compartment or door compartment
- fruit and vegetables in the vegetable tray. Attention: Avoid plastic packaging in the vegetable compartment! Otherwise, too much condensing water is produced, and the food can mould.
- Jam or already cooked food does not need too much cooling and can be accommodated in the door or the upper compartments.
- You should store a little colder foods than freshly packaged foods – this is especially true for animal products.
Too full or empty refrigerator
If the fridge is too full, the air can no longer circulate between the individual foods – they spoil faster. The cooling performance also decreases in an overcrowded device. Simultaneously, however, the refrigerator should not be too empty, as it warms up faster when the door is opened. With a fuller refrigerator, the food “saves” the cold like cooling batteries, which means that the device has to spend less energy to cool down. The ideal is a well-stocked refrigerator, but it is not overcrowded and still has enough air circulation space.
Hot food in the fridge
There is still something left of lunch, or you have cooked on stock? Then make sure to let the food cool before you put it in the fridge! Warm food in the fridge causes the inside of the appliance to warm up. The refrigerator then has to cool even more to restore the desired temperature – and this costs a lot of energy and thus cash.
Another problem with scorching foods in the refrigerator: when they secrete steam, condensation forms. This, in turn, can form or at least strengthen an ice tank at the freezer.
Incorrect refrigerator temperature
Many refrigerators are set too cold – an unnecessary waste of energy and thus a waste of money. As a rule of thumb, if the butter is not spreadable, the fridge is too cold and should be set higher.
The optimal refrigerator temperature is 7 oC. For refrigerators without thermometers and controllers of 1-6 of 2-7, this usually corresponds to the low controller levels 1 or 2.
For the freezing range, the ideal temperature is -18 oC. Even a degree less can mean about six per cent more power consumption.
Sensitive food in the side door
The side compartments on the refrigerator’s door are actually made for milk cartons or milk bottles – but storing them there is not recommended. The temperature fluctuates the most in the areas around the door compartments and the bottle rack, but susceptible fresh milk should remain constantly cool so that it lasts longer.
Make old foods disappear.
Who doesn’t know this: After shopping, you put the new food in the fridge – and push the old food backwards. Last week’s food disappears into the depths of the fridge, is overlooked and soon inedible. It’s better the other way around: newly purchased foods belong to the back, older ones to the front.
Defrosting too rarely
Ice on the walls significantly reduces the cooling effect and increases power consumption. To keep the fridge efficient, you should defrost it regularly – experts recommend it at least twice a year. And here, too, you not only save energy and please the environment, but regular defrosting also relieve your wallet.
Clean too rarely
Even if it’s tedious, you should clean the fridge every four to six weeks. Unpleasant odours, germs, bacteria or mould quickly develop in the refrigerator. Especially if you store unpackaged food, regular cleaning is important.