Organising the refrigerator properly

A well-organised refrigerator is not only aesthetically pleasing, but above all functional. The right arrangement of food keeps it fresh for longer and minimises the risk of cross-contamination. This helps you avoid wasting valuable produce and protects your health. Here are some tips on how to optimally organise your fridge. All images in this article come from Stable Diffusion XL or the Bing Image Designer and are therefore AI-generated (as you can and are supposed to see). The text is ours.

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Cleaning the refrigerator:

The frequency of fridge cleaning can vary depending on usage. Here are some general recommendations:

Immediately if something has been spilt or leaked. Cleaning is also always important if mould is visible on food.

Every week you should wipe down shelves, remove crumbs, check the vegetable compartment and wipe it out if necessary.

Monthly, the refrigerator should be emptied and wiped out with water and a little dish detergent.

Twice to four times a year, it should be thoroughly cleaned (including defrosting the freezer compartment). Shelves and drawers should be removed and washed thoroughly with hot and soapy water.

Refrigerators that are used by many people at the same time, for example in a shared flat, should be cleaned even more frequently.

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Temperature of the refrigerator:

There are various recommendations for the ideal temperature for a refrigerator:

The European Union recommends a temperature of 5 degrees Celsius on the energy label for refrigerators. In Germany, however, a temperature of 7 degrees Celsius is often specified as sufficient. These specifications refer to the centre section of the refrigerator. By the way, lowering the temperature by 2 degrees increases power consumption by up to 10 per cent.

Meat and fish should be stored at 1 to 3 degrees, dairy products at 4 to 5 degrees. Modern refrigerators are equipped with so-called zero-degree zones. These are compartments or drawers that are usually located at the bottom of the refrigerator. Sometimes these are also designed to retain moisture, which keeps fruit and vegetables fresh for longer.

The temperature in the refrigerator therefore varies between the individual levels and compartments. It naturally drops from the upper to the lower compartments. The refrigerator door is exposed to the greatest fluctuations when opened.

Sorting food:

Especially if you have a larger supply of food in the house, it should be stored sorted by category. This way, all produce is stored optimally and you can keep track of its condition. It also makes planning meals and shopping much easier.

For example, we store flours, starches and other foods in the form of powders in well-sealed, light-protected jars in one place and pulses, rice and pasta on other shelves. Closed tinned food in jars or tins also has its own place, sorted according to vegetables, fruit and other products.

This does not belong in the fridge:

Bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic and bread do not belong in the fridge; they should always be stored in a place that is not excessively warm, but also not very cold.

Apples, bananas and tomatoes also all produce the fruit ripening hormone ethylene. This substance accelerates the ripening process of fruit and vegetables. If such fruit is stored next to each other or together with vegetables, this gas can cause the fruit and vegetables to spoil more quickly, so they should be stored separately.

Organising the fridge correctly:

Because temperatures vary so much inside the fridge, all products have their perfect place.

Top shelves: These are the warmest shelves in the fridge. This is where you store less spoilable foods such as eggs, jam, opened tinned food, cheese in its original packaging and cooked dishes.

Middle shelves: Dairy products such as already opened cheese, cream, fresh milk, yoghurt and curd cheese are stored here.

Lower shelves: These shelves are for sausage, ham, raw meat, poultry and fish. This also prevents meat juices from dripping onto other foods and contaminating them.

Vegetable drawer: Vegetable drawers should always be used accordingly, as they are designed to retain moisture, which keeps fruit and vegetables fresh for longer. For example, root vegetables, mushrooms, leeks, spring onions, salads, berries, grapes and fresh herbs can be stored here.

Modern refrigerators that have a “zero-degree dry zone” for meat and fish and a “zero-degree humid zone” for fruit and vegetables are very useful, as the food keeps even longer in these compartments.

The refrigerator door is a good place to store preserved foods such as mustard, ketchup, jams and juices due to the fluctuating temperatures caused by opening and closing. Eggs and butter can also be stored here, especially if you don’t want to cool them too much.

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