What is your first reaction when you open the door to your refrigerator or freezer? Attractive and orderly or like the mature stages of a science project? Maintaining a well organized refrigerator and freezer is another way we “look well to the ways of our household” (Proverbs 31:27) and practice good stewardship. Maintaining a model refrigerator and freezer is an important component at Horner Homemaking House since tour guests often open the refrigerator—without permission! Perhaps the guidelines we use will assist you in caring for these significant “household servants” so that they provide optimal performance for you.
Maintaining a Model Refrigerator and Freezer
Keeping your refrigerator stocked in an organized manner creates an attractive and comforting ambiance. It is also a safer and more efficient way to store your food and other items requiring refrigeration.
- Keep your refrigerator cold to ensure your food’s safety and long life. The USDA recommends keeping the refrigerator ata maximum 40° and the freezer at 0°. Keep the door closed—snack browsing with it open is a formula for bacteria growth!
- Do not overload the refrigerator. Air must circulate among the items store to maintain a cool environment.
- Rotate foods so that the oldest are used first. When you buy new items place them behind the older one.
- Discard foods that show signs of spoilage such as decay, browning, sliminess, soft spots, curdling, or unusual odors. If you suspect a food is spoiled resist tasting it to find out. Food poisoning is not fun and can, in some instances be deadly.
- When stocking the refrigerator after shopping organize your items on the counter in the order you wish to store them. Remember that the longer the door is open the more the temperature increases.
Begin with Clean Appliances
Ideally the refrigerator and freezer are cleaned before shopping.
- Wash the drawers, racks, and interior with a solution of warm, sudsy water. Dish washing detergent work well. Add ¼ cup baking soda per quart of water to the solution to soften the water and assist in removing odors. If there is mold in the refrigerator add ¼ cup bleach per quart of water.
- Begin at the top and move to the bottom to avoid spattering already cleaned surfaces. A damp cloth or paper towel placed on food stuck to the surface will assist in removing it. A nylon-mesh pad that is used on nonstick cookware can help remove stubborn spills. Pay close attention to corners, cracks, and seams since they are breeding areas for mold.
- Rinse with cool water and wipe dry before storing the food.
- Periodically dump the contents of your ice-maker in the garbage disposal and allow to run with plenty of water. This freshens the ice, allows you to wash the dispenser pan, and cleans the garbage disposal unit.
- Place an opened box of baking soda in both the refrigerator or freezer. A shaker with large holes works well and allows you to use a smaller quantity. When the baking soda is ready to discard it can be used for cleaning.
Store foods in the areas best suited to maintain their optimal freshness. Normally the lower shelves of the refrigerator have the coldest temperatures. Check you manual for specific features of your model.
Use butter within one month of purchasing, or put in freezer. Store it in an
airtight butter drawer (on the side of the door).
Cheese: Keep in the original wrapper until opened. Then re-wrap tightly in parchment paper, cheese cloth, or waxed paper to prevent mold. Whenever possible, store the cheese in its own drawer.
Cottage or Ricotta Cheese, Sour Cream, and Yogurt
Leave in original containers after removing the vacuum seal. As with milk or cream, do not return any residual to the original container. Instead place contents in a clean, tightly covered container. Always store dairy products in tightly closed, containers.
Store eggs in the coldest part of the refrigerator (usually the bottom shelf).
Store fish in a bed of ice, or its container. Cover the container/bed of ice, with a damp
paper or kitchen towel.
Fruit and Vegetables
Store in the crisper since it is designed to control the refrigerator’s humidity. Remove produce from the plastic bag, wrap in damp paper towels, then store in the drawers.
Wrap fresh herbs in a damp paper towel and store in the vegetable drawer.
Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator (usually the bottom shelf) in the store wrapping to prevent bacteria growth. Place in a plastic bag or a tray to catch any drips and prevent contamination of other foods.
Store in paper bags on a shelf until ready for use.
Do not overload the freezer. Air must circulate among the items store to maintain the frozen environment.
- Label your food (when it was made and what it is), freeze it flat if possible, and use stackable containers. Save empty cereal boxes, placed in a zipped freezer bag and freeze. When solid label and stack your freezer’s contents like bricks.
- You can store pork, bacon, bones for stock, butter, cooked beans, dough, fruits and vegetables, herbs, homemade stocks, leftovers, nuts, puff pastry, tomato paste/sauce, and vegetable scraps in the freezer.
- Freeze tomato sauce, lemon juice, and other liquids in ice cube trays. Before filling measure the amount of liquid needed to fill one cube and record in a convenient place. When a recipe calls for several tablespoons of a liquid the premeasured cubes are ready for use for a few minutes thawing time.
Dealing with Power Outages
Should power outages occur it is important to keep the room where the appliance(s) are located as cool as possible.
The refrigerator can keep food cool between 4 and 6 hours depending on the temperature of the room while the freezer may keep the food frozen up to two days if it is full. If half full perhaps one day.
Consider these hints:
- Keep the doors closed and the appliances plugged in. When power is restored the sudden start will not harm them.
- It is difficult to provide a specific amount of time that food will remain eatable in the refrigerator or freezer section since many factors play a part, such as how fresh the food is at that time the outage occurs, door opening, and the room’s temperature. For more detailed information on food spoilage, refreezing, safety, etc. Consumers can call the Agriculture Hot Line 1-800-535-4555.
- Place bags of regular ice in the both the freezer and refrigerator to keep foods frozen or cool.
- If it is anticipated that power will be out for a length of time, you can try to keep food frozen or cool in a cooler using either bags of ice or with dry ice.
- Remember that the handling of dry ice can cause freezing burns on hands. Gloves or other protection is recommended. Dry ice is most commonly found in the yellow pages under "Carbon Dioxide".
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
God has said, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Therefore I may boldly say, "I am a woman in process.”
The February post provides the introductory description of the monthly homemaking hints if you wish to place this post in context..
If you would like a sample chapter of The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook simply click on “Contact Pat” and request your copy.
Blessings on your week as you focus on making your house a home!