Where in Your Refrigerator Should You Store Fresh Ingredients for Maximum Freshness?
Posted by Ancaster Food Equipment | 02-05-2019
Consumer shopping and eating patterns are evolving. Today, households are shopping more frequently than ever before. People of all demographics are becoming more health conscious, which has, in turn, increased the demand for fresh, all-natural foods that are considered wholesome and unprocessed. Unfortunately, these foods are perishable and have to be kept under refrigeration at all times to keep them fresh for as long as possible.
Preparation for RefrigerationMost store owners and restaurants receive fresh ingredients, such as poultry, fish, meat, and wholesome fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Upon arrival, some can be put directly under refrigeration. But depending on the nature of the business, some of the ingredients are gently cooked in small batches as a way to maintain their natural nutritional content. They are then packed in modified atmosphere containers for fast cooling to maintain their freshness. But different foods have different cooling requirements to maintain freshness. This means that any operation that provides food service must have clearly defined areas and procedures in order to:
- Enjoy good margins from purchasing large quantities of supplies.
- Store the supplies on premises to cut down the cost and time needed to make new orders and handle them following delivery.
- Facilitate menu planning since you’re well aware of the quantity, quality, and types of supplies available.
Where to Refrigerate WhatThat said, there still is a need to store many different types of fresh ingredients on the premise, including frozen foods, fresh meats, dairy products, dry foods, and produce. The storage for these items requires proper planning to efficiently handle each category of supplies. While dry foods can be stored in a place that is clean, raised (over 15 cm or 6 in. from the floor), sufficiently cool, 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F), and dry to prevent swelling of canned goods, spoilage, and attack by insects and rodents, most fresh foods require refrigeration. The most basic rules of food refrigeration are:
- Raw products must be placed below (not above) ready-to-eat or cooked products.
- The minimum temperature for food storage is 4°C (39°F).
- All refrigerators must have a thermometer to facilitate daily temperature readings.
- Refrigerators must be well maintained by a professional repair company.
- Shelves must be well vented and shallow to facilitate regular refrigerator cleaning.
- The personnel should apply the FIFO (first in, first out) principle for refrigerated items.
- Never put hot items in the refrigerator unless you must.
- Always keep the refrigerator door closed.
- Make areas for specific items, and only keep those supplies in the allocated space.
- The doors are the warmest area of the fridge. Only store items that are resistant to spoiling, like juices, condiments, and other foods that can handle temperature fluctuations. Eggs, milk, and other produce should not be stored in the door.
Dairy ProductsThe ideal refrigeration temperature for dairy products is 2°C to 4°C (36° to 39°F). Put them in protective covering and in their own area to prevent them from absorbing surrounding odours. That said, they should never be stored in a vegetable cooler. If need be, get a separate refrigerator. And always remember to rotate the products when fresh ones arrive at an appropriate interval to ensure they all fit.
ProduceMost refrigerated produce can also be safely stored at 2°C to 4°C (36° to 39°F). However, there are a few exceptions for different kinds of items:
- Bananas and potatoes should be stored at higher temperatures. This means they shouldn’t be refrigerated but stored in a cool and dry area.
- The length of time for storing soft fruits and vegetables varies widely. Soft fruits and delicate vegetables should be purchased fresh and used as soon as possible. Rotate them frequently in the vegetable cooler, and remove rotting fruit to keep it from affecting the others. Cabbages, carrots, and other hardy vegetables can last in the vegetable cooler for weeks. Softening makes them vulnerable to rot, so check your buying frequency to avoid wastage.