As we’re all still making fewer food shopping trips, food storage has remained an important hack to master to ensure that the food supplies we buy remain at their best in the fridge for longer than usual.
It's the bacteria in our fridges and freezers that's responsible for all that wasted fresh food that we throw out because it's gone mouldy – and you can blame it for that a ripe bad odour each time when you open and close the fridge door, too. And, the most worrying of all, fridge bacteria, just like any bacteria, can make us pretty poorly.
Anyone fancy a fridge bacteria-induced trip to hospital at the moment? Thought not. So when you come to buy your next cooling appliance, here are a few features to look out for that will help to keep your food fresher for longer. Keep scrolling to discover the dos and don'ts of food storage, and to read some rather interesting facts from experts.
- Don't miss our pick of the best fridge freezers to keep your food as fresh as possible
1. Is your fridge the right temperature?
The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) advises that refrigerator temperatures should be set below 5ºC. If the temperature rises above 4 to 5ºC, fridges and fridge freezers can provide the perfect conditions for nasty bacteria to proliferate, so it's well worth remembering to keep your fridge temperature below that magic 5ºC mark – and to check your fridge temperature to make sure it is reliably at that level.
As a piece of welcome news, the latest appliances, are much more consistent on temperature control than older models, helping to keep your fridge bacteria-free, and preserving the physical properties of the food – the flavour, juiciness, texture and nutritional attributes – for twice as long.
2. Can you control the humidity of your fruit and veg?
Interestingly, the website Healthline ranks vegetables and leafy greens as the second most common source of food poisoning after poultry. This risk can be avoided if you wash vegetables and salad leaves, and only purchase pre-packaged salads that have been refrigerated.
Allowing air to circulate by not over stuffing the drawer will help to create the perfect conditions for fruit and vegetables which can keep humidity as high as 90 per cent. This humidity zone – found in the Haier Cube Series HTF-610DM7 American Style 70/30 Freestanding Fridge Freezer, for example – will be a godsend which will not only keep your fresh foods fresher for longer but will also minimise waste, too.
3. Look out for anti-bacterial tech, and regularly clean your fridge
Bacteria can grow inside your fridge which can affect the taste and quality of your food. It's not a very nice thought, especially as it wouldn't be the first thought that many of us have about what a cooling appliance is capable of. Fear not, though, there are a couple of things that you can do to tackle this worry by regularly cleaning your fridge AND freezer with anti-bac and keeping a look out for any handy built-in tech which can purify the air circulated for you when you next come to buy a fridge or fridge freezer.
4. Freezing food is not always the answer
No indeed: freezing does NOT reduce the nutritional properties of food, and yet bacterial growth is paused but not eliminated. According to what we've read on the FSA, a freezer essentially acts as a pause button which means that food in a freezer won't deteriorate and most bacteria cannot grow in it, so it is advised that any foods which are defrosted must been consumed within 24 hours.
Food can be safely frozen and stored for up to three to four months but then may start to show signs of ‘freezer-burn’: in the freezing process, water molecules in the food form crystals which then attach to the coldest part of the freezer wall. Freezer-burn can, therefore, be detected in food which seems to have suffered discolouration and dehydration, often evidenced in ‘grey-brown leathery spots’, the United States Food and Drug Administration says.
The answer? By fresh as often as you can and consume frozen foods within a few months. Some of the newest fridge freezers will also allow you to increase refrigeration capacity as necessary by simply switching a section to refrigerate instead of freeze, and vice versa.