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Keep your food fresh in the fridge: milk, eggs, berries and more


The best place to keep milk, cheese, eggs, and fruit in your fridge may not be what they seem.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Opening your refrigerator to discover that your fresh food has become slimy, funky or even moldy is heartbreaking. You not only have to throw away the offensive items, but now you have less to eat. It is important to know when it is time to rid your refrigerator of certain foods that have passed their flowering. But that also applies to maintaining the lifespan of your milk, eggs, fruit, vegetables and meat.

There are a number of surefire methods to extend the shelf life of your fridge food, including some editorial favorites. For example, keep perishable dairy products in the coldest part of the refrigerator and use a surprisingly simple kitchen to keep lettuce away.

Of course, keep in mind that the FDA recommends keeping chilled food at or below 40 degrees. And the Mayo Clinic says that the risk of harmful bacteria increases after four days. So it's a good idea to perform the sniff and feel test before you eat items that have been in the fridge for a while. If something smells or doesn't look good, it's not worth the risk.

Read more: The coolest lunch boxes of 2020

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How do you know if your food is safe to eat?


Keep your vegetables fresh for longer

Once your salad, spinach and other vegetables look dark, wet or slimy, they are no longer good. You will notice that they have a less earthy green scent and more a sharp aroma. And if you don't have time to turn them into a pesto sauce, you can use them for longer using a simple kitchen tool – paper towels.

When you buy herbs such as coriander or a bunch of spinach, wrap a paper towel around it to absorb any moisture from the supermarket water spray, which can cause mold. For plastic tubs of vegetables such as salad, put some paper towels in the tub – three should do it – to keep rogue moisture away.

If you prefer to go green, CNET sister site Chowhound recommends the use of product bags, storage containers and reusable paper towels after rinsing your greens to make them last longer. They also recommend that you poke small holes in the plastic bags that you do use to promote greater air circulation.

When you are ready to eat your vegetables, make sure you rinse them off to remove any persistent bacteria. You can also pre-wash your vegetables, such as romaine lettuce leaves, and let them dry completely before storing them in towels in the fridge. If individual leaves look like they are in decline, throw them away, but also give the container a pinch.

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Alina Bradford / CNET

Prevent your milk and other dairy products from becoming too acidic too quickly

If you have noticed that the milk and other dairy products you buy are among the first to spoil, it is probably because you store them the wrong way. You may think that if you put them in the fridge immediately after use, they are fine – but that is not always true.

CNET's smart home team thoroughly tests refrigerators using industry standards to find the best – and here's what they found. The temperature of your refrigerator is not even with some places usually colder than others. For example, the rear of the refrigerator stays cooler, so it's a much better place to store milk than the side door.

Not only is the door moderate than the back of the refrigerator, you also expose food on the front of the refrigerator to warm kitchen air every time it is opened. Dairy and other perishable goods must remain fresh for a few days if stored in the back.

A common tip suggests to add just a pinch of salt to the milk after opening to make it shelf life one week longer after the expiration date. Full disclosure: we did not try. If you think you cannot drink the milk before it expires, the Dairy Council of California states that you can freeze and thaw it when you are ready to drink.

However, make sure you follow your own common sense and smell the milk before you drink. If the acid smells or looks lumpy when you pour it into a glass, discard it immediately. The same applies to other dairy products, such as yogurt, heavy cream and sour cream.

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Dairy products must always be stored at the back of the refrigerator.


Prevent your cheese from growing mold

To prevent your cheese from growing too early, the American Cheese Society recommends removing it from the plastic package and rolling it up in wax or parchment paper instead. Buy a reusable food wrap such as bee wrap to get greener. You want to change the packaging regularly in both directions.

The American Dairy Association proposes to store most cheese at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Soft cheese such as brie and cottage cheese should last at these temperatures for a week. Hard cheese such as cheddar can usually last three to four weeks.

If your cheese ever has a too dry or slimy texture, it is best to discard it.

Storing your tomato puree

Unless you bake a pizza all over again, chances are you won't use all the tomato puree in the can at once. You can keep it fresh by adding a thick layer of oil over the top of the pasta.

When you are ready to use it again, pour or scoop the oil from the top. If you have some tomato puree left that you want to use later, pour more oil to cover it.

If black rings are formed around the inside edges of the can after you have placed it in the refrigerator, this is often dried and oxidized paste. Avoid scooping up the red tomato paste. You can also use a paper towel and scrape it off, or scoop out the fresh pasta and store it, covered with oil, in a separate container. Meat drying 19659040] drying meat “/>

Freeze or cook raw meat before freezing or cooking it.

Alina Bradford / CNET

Keep your meat fresh

According to the FoodSafety.gov guidelines, lunch meat should be thrown after three to five days when it is opened. Raw bacon lasts a week and freshly ground meat (sausage, hamburger) only takes one to two days. Meat such as steaks, pork chops, roasts and ham can last up to five days in the refrigerator.

If one of these types of meat has been in your refrigerator for longer, you must cook it or freeze it. If not, the meat starts to get bad and you have to throw it away. If you cook it, you can live an extra three to five days in the fridge and live for months more in the freezer.

Some foods, such as fish, are better left in the trash if they are not within a day. However, as always, make sure you smell your food before you cook it, to reduce the chance of foodborne illnesses.

Don't let your eggs spoil

In addition to dairy products, eggs should also be stored in a cool place in your refrigerator. That means they have to stay outside the door and instead at the back of the fridge.

If you are not sure if they are still good and the expiry date is too late, you can perform the egg test. Fill a bowl with water and place in one egg at a time. If the egg sinks to the bottom, it is good to eat. If it floats, it's time to throw it out.

Discard all deviled eggs that have been outside for several hours. Because they are made with perishable items such as mayonnaise, they cannot stay at room temperature for long. However, if you have cooled them, you can safely eat them up to two days later.

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Keep your eggs fresh by keeping them outside the refrigerator door.


Let your fruit last longer

Berries, such as strawberries and raspberries, are known to mold quickly. Once this happens, don't eat them. However, Chowhound recommends preserving fruit by washing it in distilled white vinegar and water, rinsing them with water and waiting for them to dry completely before storing in the refrigerator.

Once the berries are dry, place them in a new container lined with kitchen paper and keep them from the vegetable drawer, which is more moist.

Need more kitchen tips? Check out these foods you need to purify from your refrigerator and how to unclog a kitchen sink with things you already have in your house.

Originally published earlier this week.

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