The refrigerator is one of the most neglected kitchen appliances. Food items just seem to find their way in the back and turn into horrific science experiments overtime. Who hasn't found spoiled yogurt, sour milk, or moldy jars of soups left there from weeks ago? National Clean Out Your Fridge Day Nov. 15 was a good reminder to take matters into your hands and check the status of items inside your refrigerator.
Of course, we'd all clean out our fridges more often in a year, but making it an annual occasion provides an opportunity to rectify the situation with your long-forgotten leftovers and make room for your Thanksgiving or Christmas meals. So, fill that bucket with warm water, don your rubber gloves, collect your cleaning supplies, and take a day to scrub your fridge clean.
Here are Our REALTORS® tips for your refrigeration cleaning:
- Empty all shelves
- Chuck expired food and beverages
- Wash drawers and completely wipe surfaces inside of the refrigerator
- Vacuum condenser coils and the area under the fridge
- If smelly, deodorize your fridge with baking soda or freshly ground coffee
- Restock drawers and shelves with good food
Leftover Storage Tips
Leftover foods can cut down your work time in the kitchen and significantly minimize food waste. With the holidays quickly approaching, we expect massive meals that leave leftovers in their wake. While leftovers are great, they could pose a health hazard if they were not stored properly or have sat too long in the refrigerator. To ensure you're safely storing and eating your leftovers, here is an easy-to-follow guideline.
- Keep an Eye on the Clock
Bacteria can quickly multiply between 40° F and 140° F. Once food is cooked and served, you'll want to keep the remainder on hot plates while it's out or refrigerate or freeze your food within two hours to minimize the time your food is in the danger zone.
- Properly Store Your Leftovers
When it comes to refrigerating leftovers, you want to get them down to a safe temperature (40° F or below) as quickly as possible. That means packing them in a layer no more than two inches deep to promote rapid, even cooling of the food. Slice up thick pieces of meat and store in serving-size packets. Use shallow bowls for sauces, soups, and chilis. Keep your containers tightly covered, place them in the coldest parts of the fridge, and be sure there's space around containers.
- Reheat Leftovers Until Piping Hot
A 1-minute zap won't cut it. Whether you're reheating your leftovers on the stove, in the microwave, or in the oven, be sure the internal temperature reaches 165° F. Use a food thermometer to measure solid foods and bring gravies, soups, and sauces to a rolling boil. In addition to general safety, you'll want to avoid leftover leftovers. This means that you only reheat the portion you plan to eat. If you don't finish the serving, discard it.
- Enjoy Your Leftovers Within 3-4 Days
Have you ever opened a container of leftovers that are likely past their prime, sniffed, checked to ensure there's no mold, and then dove in without thinking about the potential sickness you could get? Many people have. Because bacteria don't immediately change the food's look, smell, or taste, you can't tell whether your leftover food is safe to eat.
As a rule of thumb, don't eat leftovers you've had for more than 3 to 4 days after preparation. If you want to preserve your leftovers past that 4-day mark, freeze them to keep them safe until you need them. If you're not sure how long your leftover food has been sitting in the fridge, better throw it out than take the chance and get sick.
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