Fridge vs counter: How to store fresh food properly

WATCH ABOVE: Where you store your fruits and vegetables can make a big difference in how long they stay fresh. Heather Loney explains.

Take a quick look in your fridge. Do you see tomatoes in there? What about potatoes?

In an abundance of caution (and perhaps lack of counter space), many foods end up in the fridge that don’t actually need to be there.

Many fruits and vegetables don’t have to be refrigerated at all. In fact, some stay fresh longer when not kept in the fridge. Different organizations disagree slightly with some of the recommendations below, but here’s a handy infographic to get your started.

Keep in mind, pre-cut and ready-to-eat produce should always be kept in the fridge.

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Certain types of fruits and vegetables give off high amounts of ethylene gas, which can cause other items to spoil or ripen too quickly. Whether in the fridge or on the counter, keep these items away from other fresh produce: apples, bananas, tomatoes, melons (cantaloupe, honeydew), pears, plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots and avocados.

Kitchen storage

Health officials, including Health Canada and the Dietitians of Canada, recommend keeping your fridge at 4°C (40°F) or lower. Freezers should be kept at -18°C (0°F).

Experts also urge that once you get home from the store, put foods such as meat, dairy and seafood into the fridge or freezer immediately.

Health Canada says the key is to avoid the “temperature danger zone” (between 4°C and 60°C) where bacteria can grow quickly.

Another tip is to keep meat, fish, seafood and poultry on the bottom shelf of your fridge so juices don’t drip onto other foods.

For more safety tips on buying and storing food, plus information on ‘best before’ dates, read ‘Safety tips for buying and storing your fresh food and leftovers.’


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