An organized refrigerator saves time and money. Smart cooking habits lengthen the life of your frig, as does proper storage. Here are a few tips from the pros.
• Use the crisper. Leaving fruits and vegetables on open shelves is a recipe for limp and spoiled produce, according to Paul Leuthe, corporate marketing manager for Sub-Zero appliances. A steady stream of cold air, great for other foods, is deadly for produce. ''Air dries things out,'' Leuthe says. In contrast, the ''crisper'' drawer helps fruits and vegetables stay crisp longer by providing higher humidity.
• Isolate and segregate. Randomly tossing fruits and veggies into the same bin can be wasteful, say the experts at Sub-Zero. Many fruits -- apples, melons, apricots, figs and bananas -- produce ethylene, a gas that hastens ripening. Ethylene makes most vegetables spoil faster, so store fruits and vegetables in separate bags or drawers. ''Wash them, put them in bags and keep them isolated,'' Leuthe says.
• Reconsider the door. It's tempting to store milk, eggs and other high-use items in the door. Think twice about putting highly perishable products there because the door has the greatest temperature fluctuation and agitation. Both shorten a food's shelf life.
• Maximize multilevel storage. Hot air rises. Foods needing cooler temperatures should be on the lower shelves. Use the upper ones for items less prone to spoil.
• Don't crowd. An over-packed refrigerator reduces the flow of air. With reduced circulation, the unit becomes less energy-efficient and more prone to frost and freezer burn.
• Reduce humidity. Your refrigerator will work more efficiently if you keep a lid on moisture in the kitchen.
This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.
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