The right temperature is extremely important to keep food safe, especially in Kuwait when temperatures can soar above 50°C. This is especially important for food items that need to be refrigerated. Yet, most of us are unaware of what the right temperature settings in the freezer should be.
Find out how you can safely chill and defrost food items by following these guidelines
The -18-degree rule: Check the temperature on your freezer and make sure it is accurately set at -18°C or below. All frozen foods should be stored at a temperature of -18°C or below.
The temperature of your fridge should be set at 5°C. If your fridge does not have an internal temperature clock, then purchase one from a nearby hardware or cooking supplies store. Remember, the temperature on the door of the fridge differs from inside the actual fridge so do not store any food items like eggs on the door shelves, and instead store them inside where it is coolest.
Refrigerate perishable items within two hours. This means that food items can only be out of the fridge for a maximum of two hours. So, next time you have a lunch party, remember to store the leftovers back in the fridge within a couple of hours, or else you risk a high chance of it being contaminated.
Throw away food items from the freezer or refrigerator that look suspicious to you and might be spoiled. This is a contamination risk you shouldn’t take!
Place older food items in the front and keep newer items at the back every time you restock your freezer with new food. That way, you will be reminded to use the older items before the new items.
Food items that are defrosted in the refrigerator can be safely frozen again. However, if you defrost your food items using a microwave or running water, then you should avoid refreezing them again, and instead proceed to cooking them.
Wrap foods with heavy freezer wrappers or foil to avoid freezer burns. Freezer burns do not cause any harm in terms of food safety, but they do ruin the quality of food, and make the food tougher when biting into it.
Place an open box of baking soda in the back of the fridge to get rid of bad smells and odors. Change this box every three months.
Defrosting food items safely
- 1Defrost larger food items on the bottom shelf of the fridge for at least 24 hours. This is the safest place and way to defrost any food item.
- 3Defrost food items in the microwave if you want to quicken the time period. Defrosting time varies depending on the microwave settings and the food item.
- 2You can also defrost frozen foods under cold running water by placing them in a sealed bag or wrapped in plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes for every 500 grams of food. So if you have a 2-Kilogram chicken, then you should defrost it for at least two hours under cold running water.
- 4Cooking frozen foods without defrosting them is possible, but you should cook food items for 50% longer than your average cooking time.
The Best Way to Store Food in your Refrigerator
- Eggs do best where the temperature is most consistent—on the middle shelf. Store in their original cartons.
- Milk tends to land on the top shelf, but it should be on the bottom, all the way in back, where it’s the coldest.
- Yogurt, sour cream, and cottage cheese fare best on the bottom shelf for the same reason. Stack items on a turntable to keep everything accessible and expiration dates visible.
- Packaged raw meat should go on the super-cold bottom shelf. That way, if juices drip they won’t contaminate the whole fridge.
- Vegetables stay fresh for a longer period of time with a bit of humidity. The drawer labeled vegetables or high humidity is the most moist spot in the fridge. Store in the original packaging or in a plastic bag, loosely tied.
- Fruit belongs in the low humidity drawer (sometimes marked crisper). Keep in the original packaging or in a plastic bag, loosely tied (citrus is fine with no bag). Tip: Leave vegetables and fruits unwashed until you use them. Water can promote mold and cause bacteria to grow.
- Deli meats belong in the shallow meat drawer, which is slightly colder than the rest of the fridge, or (if there’s no such drawer) on the bottom shelf.
- Butter and soft cheeses don’t need to be super cold, so they can live in the dairy compartment on the door (the warmest part of the fridge). Place soft cheeses, like Brie and goat cheese, in an air-tight container after opening them.
- Condiments are generally high in vinegar and salt, which are natural preservatives. So ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressing are fine on the door. Same goes for pickles and jarred salsa. Olive and vegetable oils can remain in the pantry. Nut oils, like sesame and walnut oils, belong in the refrigerator, or the fridge door.
- Orange juice can be stored on the door, as long as it’s pasteurized. Freshly-squeezed orange juice should be stored on the bottom shelf.