5 ways to keep food fresher

Refrigerated food lasts longer when stored correctly

Published: November 13, 2013 03:00 PM

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Manufacturers tout lots of freshness technologies, including Viking’s “Plasmacluster Ion Air Purifier,” which is claimed to generate ions to eliminate airborne bacteria and mold spores. And Whirlpool says its “Producer Preserver” absorbs the ethylene gas that accelerates ripening. But you don’t need such fancy features to guarantee freshness. Here are some simple tips to help make food last in any refrigerator.

Be sure temperatures are cold enough. Use an appliance thermometer if your refrigerator doesn’t have a built-in one. The refrigerator should be a consistent 37° to 38° F; the freezer, 0° F.
Keep dairy off the door. Frequent opening makes the door the warmest part of any refrigerator. Instead, store milk and eggs in their carton at back, where it’s coldest. (Eggs can last three to five weeks after they’re bought, but don’t use milk more than a week past its sell-by date.)
Wrap raw fish, meat, and poultry. Place them on plates under cling wrap—again, at the back of the refrigerator. Use the lower shelves to keep dripping juice from contaminating other food. And freeze them if you won’t use them within a couple of days.
Don’t overpack. You’ll need enough room for air to circulate for food to stay cold. For freezing, begin by spreading items out on various shelves in single layers; you can stack them once they’re frozen.
Use containers with lids. Airtight containers are ideal for keeping cold cuts, cheese, and fresh berries from spoiling quickly.

Top refrigerators from our tests
As you might imagine, temperature performance is the most important factor in Consumer Reports’ refrigerator tests. Our top-scoring model is the French-door LG LFX28991[ST], $3,000, which scored an 85 out of a possible 100 with top performance in not only temperature control but energy efficiency and quietness as well. By comparison, our top-scoring conventional bottom freezer model, the Whirlpool Gold GB2FHDXW[Q], $1,200, earned a 73 but was also superb at temperature and energy efficiency. Our top-scoring top-freezer refrigerator, the GE Profile PTS22LHS[WW], was also excellent at temperature control but our top-scoring side-by-side, the Samsung RS265TD[WP], $1,300, only scored a very good on this test. Whatever configuration you prefer, you can find a recommended model in our refrigerator Ratings.

—Daniel DiClerico

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