How to store food in your fridge – Complete Kenyan Guide
If you’ve ever wondered how to properly store food in a fridge, then this guide is for you.
Storing food poorly in the fridge can easily lead to contamination and food poisoning.
Food can quickly go bad if stored for too long or if kept in the wrong section of the fridge.
Some foods are best left out of the fridge completely.
If you don’t have a fridge yet or need a new one, check out our guide on the best fridges in Kenya.
In this guide, we’ll go through how to properly store food in your fridge.
We’ll also cover the foods that are best left outside the fridge and the reasons why.
Once you’re done reading, be sure to head over to your fridge and implement these tips.
Let’s first identify the foods that shouldn’t be in your fridge in the first place. These food items quickly loose flavour or become stale when stored in the fridge.
You’ll be better off storing these items at room temperature on a counter top or vegetable rack.
Here are common food items NOT to refrigerate: bananas, bell pepper, tomatoes, lemons, sweet potatoes, oranges, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, mangoes, onions, avocado, potatoes and melons.
Most tree fruits and some vegetables produce ethylene gas when ripening. Continuous exposure to this gas will cause some foods to go bad, turn colour or change taste.
It’s therefore important to keep food items that produce ethylene gas away from these sensitive foods in the fridge.
Apples, apricots, avocados, fully ripe bananas, fully ripe tomatoes, plums, pears and fully ripe peppers produce ethylene gas. These items should be kept away from produce such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, lettuce and spinach.
Fully ripe bananas produce a lot of ethylene gas and should be kept on their own. In case you have an avocado that isn’t ripe, store it next to the bananas to speed up the ripening process.
As obvious as it sounds, always remember to pick fresh items when shopping for fruits and vegetables.
If you’re picking ripe fruits and vegetables, it’s recommended to only take a few days or a one week supply at any one time.
This will ensure you get maximum flavour and nutrients in your meals. Who doesn’t love the taste of a fresh avocado or mango here in Kenya?
If buying in bulk, be sure to mix unripe and ripe fruits/vegetables where possible to prevent rotting waste.
Rinse off very dirty fruits and vegetables with clean water and dry them completely before storage. If they aren’t too dirty, you can skip this step and do the rinsing just before using them.
Once you cut or peel any fruit and vegetable, put it in a plastic wrap or an airtight container and refrigerate immediately. Try to consume it as fast as possible though.
For cooked food, don’t leave it out past two hours after cooking before refrigerating. Letting food cool outside the fridge for too long promotes bacteria growth and can lead to food contamination.
Once you’re done cooking and serving, divide the remaining food and store it in smaller containers with air-tight lids.
Foil or a transparent wrap can also be used to cover food before storing in the fridge.
The freezer compartment can greatly reduce food wastage if used properly. Start by first checking the temperature setting of your freezer. The ideal temperature setting is 0° F (-18° C).
Next, if you have a direct cooling freezer, make sure the ice build up isn’t too much. This is to ensure efficient operation and freezing.
Defrost the freezer whenever the ice build up gets to a 6 mm thickness. If your freezer is frost free, you won’t need to worry about this step.
Once your freezer is ready for use, make sure to wrap food in aluminum foil, freezer paper, plastic containers or plastic freezer bags before storing. Avoid using thin plastic papers as they won’t provide enough protection from freezer burn.
Containers made from glass should not be stored in the freezer compartment as they may break when frozen.
Leave some space between food items when first putting them in the freezer. This is to allow for easy air circulation and quick freezing.
Once the food is completely frozen, you can put the items closer together to create more space in the freezer.
Here are some of the foods that are best kept in the freezer for longer preservation time: very ripe bananas and avocado, bread, poultry, sea food, beef, peas, ice cream, cheese, broth, tomatoes and butter.
Here are some foods that change taste and loose flavour when thawed. These foods should NOT be kept in the freezer: cabbage, potatoes, fried foods, icings made from egg whites and lettuce.
Most fridges come with adjustable shelves and a crisper section in the fridge compartment. The ideal temperature for this section is at or below 40° F (4° C).
When storing food, take care not to block any air vents and air filters in the fridge compartment. It’s also not a good idea to overload this section. If you do either or both, the efficiency of the fridge goes down and some items may not be cooled properly.
Always put newer items behind older items on the fridge shelves. This way you’ll use the older items first and minimize the chances of food going bad.
As mentioned before, all foods should be wrapped before storage. Place the cooked food containers on the top and middle shelves of the fridge compartment.
Raw meat, fish and poultry are best kept on the bottom shelf to prevent them from touching and dripping on other foods.
Fruits and vegetables should be kept in the crisper section of the fridge. Only wrap the fruits and vegetables if already peeled or cut. Otherwise, store them whole in the crisper.
Remember to leave out and separate the fruits and vegetables we covered above.
The door shelves are the warmest part of the fridge. This is due to temperature fluctuations whenever the fridge door is open.
Don’t put any food that goes bad quickly in this section such as dairy. Instead, only put items that have their own preservatives such as condiments, non-dairy drinks and jams in the door bins.