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Chilling keeps food fresh for longer

Nowadays there are very few homes in industrialized countries that don't have a fridge. The temperatures of around 5 °C slows the metabolism of foodstuffs and also the growth of microorganisms, keeping fresh food fresh for longer. Keep the cold chain intact by putting shopping that needs chilling into your fridge as soon as you get home. There are many storage options – plastic and paper bags, aluminium foil and cling film – to help keep food from drying out or changing colour and taste. Especially important is stopping odours contaminating other foods. Air-permeable paper bags or perforated plastic bags are ideal for storing fruit and vegetables in the vegetable drawer. Hot foods must be cooled right down before you put them in the fridge otherwise you may get condensation and you'll use more energy.

How fridges and freezers work

By far the great majority of fridges and freezers operate on the compression/expansion method (static cooling). The compressor compresses the refrigerant, changing its physical state from gas to liquid, it transports heat from the fridge/freezer to the outside environment. The heat is given off via a grid of tubes often mounted on the rear of the appliance and the refrigerant becomes liquid again. It flows downwards inside on the rear wall of the refrigerator absorbing heat as if flows down to the compressor. As the refrigerant moves, temperature changes create a natural air movement in the fridge. The coldest place in the fridge is at the back of the glass plate which covers the fruit and vegetable drawers. It's far less cold in the door compartments and on the top shelf. So it makes sense to arrange the contents of your fridge to utilize these temperature gradients.

Where to store which foods

Cheese and baked goods can tolerate slightly higher temperatures, so can safely be stored on the top shelf. The same applies to milk and milk products - a good place to store them is on the next shelf down. That's where baked goods also belong. The lowest shelf – usually a glass plate covering the vegetable drawers – is the right place for products that need to be kept really cool, for example raw meat or fish.


The compressor is usually located in the rear wall of the fridge at about the same height as the vegetable drawers, so that these storage elements are cooled only from above. They're fine for storing vegetables or fruit, but not raw meat, cold cuts or fish. The door compartments are among the least cold areas of the fridge, they're fine for eggs and butter, mustard, ketchup and juices. Exotic fruits and vegetables like aubergines, courgettes, paprika, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes and onions are better stored outside the fridge, but still in a cool part of your kitchen or store room.

Multi-zone appliances for close temperature control

In multi-zone appliances, you can set different temperatures in different compartments to perfectly suit the contents. Appliances with dynamic cooling have a fan that maintains a virtually even temperature right through the fridge interior. In this type of fridge, it doesn't matter where you put what. But it's still a good idea, for food hygiene reasons, to put raw meat and fish lower down and cold cuts and cooked foods higher up.

Storage hygiene

A set storage pattern is more efficient and you can plan storage to maximize food hygiene. "Prepared dishes, leftovers, and foods eaten cold should be stored above raw meat and fish in order to avoid cross-contamination by drips", says Harald Seitz, nutritionist with aid infodienst in Bonn, Germany. "If you store similar foods together and always in the same place, you'll save yourself a lot of time and effort searching for things. This means that the door won't be kept open so long and you'll save electricity," continues Seitz. And because some micro-organisms continue to multiply even at fridge temperatures, you should try to clean your fridge at least once a month. Seitz advises warm water and a ph-neutral general cleaner. "Avoid using abrasive or strongly acidic cleaning fluids, because they will attack plastics," he says.


Source: Ute Gomm, Eva Neumann, www.aid.de