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how to store food

How to store food in a fridge correctly

Author: Joanna Davis

Home & Kitchen Expert

how to store food in a fridge

Some areas of the fridge are warmer than others. Therefore, it makes a difference where you put which foods. Because it largely depends on the temperature of how long they last.

Some foods shouldn’t be lying together. With others, on the other hand, this does not cause a problem. We have put together a few tips on how to best fill your fridge.

Even if you can set a temperature on your refrigerator, this may be reached at one point in the interior, but certainly not everywhere – at least not to the degree.

The difference between the coldest and the warmest place in the refrigerator can be up to 8 degrees. Ultimately, this depends on the specific model and how you set up the device in your kitchen.

At the bottom, directly above the glass plate, it is usually 2-3 degrees. The temperature in the middle compartment is around 5 degrees, in the top compartment 8-10 degrees. There is about 10 degrees on the inside of the door and in the vegetable compartment. It is the warmest area in the fridge.

This is different from a refrigerator with a built-in fan. This whirls the air around the cold room and ensures that the temperature there is uniform. But these models are not widely used.

We don’t see any advantage in that either, because you can use different temperature zones in the fridge to your advantage. After all, every food needs slightly different storage conditions. You should pay attention to this when filling your refrigerator.

What belongs in the fridge door?

Everything that you can lock, you can store in the warmest place in the refrigerator. This includes bottles, glasses, cans and tubes. It is best to place these on the shelves in the door.

In our fridge, there are ketchup and mustard, but also salad dressings, barbecue sauces, the jar with cucumber or olives. The tube with the tomato paste is also here.

Mineral water or water that you have bubbled up yourself is best placed in the door as well. Fruit juices, cola, wine and other bottles right next to it. The bottles do not have to lie down and there is no chance for any leaking bottles.

Milk also belongs in the door, but no raw milk. It needs lower temperatures. Eggs are also optimally stored here. Many manufacturers therefore supply an egg container, some even a butter dish that fits exactly in the door compartment. The butter remains somewhat softer and therefore easy to spread.

The zones in the cold room

Almost every refrigerator has a vegetable compartment, many also have a freezer compartment. But most of the space is in the cold room, divided into 2-5 compartments. Since there are several temperature zones, it doesn’t matter where you put something.

The rule of thumb: fish and meat belong down. Everything that will soon be eaten upwards: cakes and tarts, prepared dishes (e.g. pasta bake), but also the leftovers that need to be reheated.

Everything that shouldn’t get so cold belongs to the top. This also includes what lasts a long time: jams and preserves. If drinks no longer fit in the door, they are best stored upstairs.

If you opened a can, you shouldn’t put it in the fridge. Particularly acidic foods such as fruit or tomatoes react easily with the tin of the metal cans after opening. It is better to fill the rest of the contents in a container made of porcelain or plastic.

Meat and poultry

Meat and poultry spoil easily. They belong to the coldest point in the refrigerator, i.e. all the way down on the glass plate above the vegetable compartment. Storage in a zero-degree compartment with low humidity would be even better. Beef should stay fresh there for up to six days longer.

Otherwise, please note the following guidelines: Raw minced meat should be processed on the same day. Poultry can be kept in the fridge for one to two days, veal and pork for two to three days.

Sausage and ham

If they are intended for direct consumption, you should store sausage, cold cuts and ham in the middle of the fridge. If you keep packing them down and cooling them down, it could affect the taste.

The sausage should be on top in a smaller refrigerator. It is generally best to store sausage and smoked products that are still sealed in there.

As long as you have not yet cut raw ham, it can also be stored in the pantry or in the basement, provided it is cool and dark there.

Fish and seafood

Fresh fish and seafood should be kept as cool as possible and prepared after a day at the latest. Therefore, store them in the coldest place in the refrigerator.

They belong in the zero-degree compartment with low humidity or, if you don’t have it, in the cold room all the way down, directly on the glass plate above the vegetable compartment.

Milk, butter, yogurt

Dairy products do not need very low temperatures. It’s best to put them in the middle. If you only have two zones, then in the upper ones.

These include yogurt, curd cheese, cream cheese, cream, crème fraîche and other dairy products. You can also put them in a compartment together with cold cuts. Both require similar conditions and do not influence each other.

You can also add fresh milk if the bottle or pack is still unopened. If you have already removed something, it is best to stand in the door. The opened UHT milk pack also belongs there.

The best place for the butter is the door at the top. This is the warmest place in the entire fridge. Butter can be in the refrigerator for four to six weeks – even if the best-before date says otherwise.


When it comes to cheese, it depends on its degree of maturity where you best store it in the fridge.

If you don’t want it to ripen yet because it won’t come to the table for a later occasion, keep it as cool as possible. Place it down on the glass plate above the vegetable compartment.

A matured cheese that is already consumed comes to the other dairy products in the middle cooling area. If it should still mature, put it in a warmer zone: all the way up or in the door.

With cheese, it also depends on how you store it. Take it out of the foil, but don’t put the mold, for example, right next to the hard cheese. The mold could skip. This does not harm health, but it does damage the appearance and taste.

Cheese lasts the longest in the fridge if you wrap it in a clean towel that you have soaked in saltwater. If you renew it every two or three days, the cheese will last up to three weeks.

When stored in a conventional cheese can, sliced cheese is kept in the refrigerator for eight to ten days.


The package says that at some point you should store eggs in the refrigerator. There, however, they come to the warmest place: in the door at the top.

Many manufacturers also supply inserts that fit in the door compartment. You can then free the eggs from their box and access them more quickly. If you turn them upside down, they will last a little longer.

When it comes to durability, please follow the information on the packaging. Boiled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for two to four weeks.

Frozen goods and leftovers

Frozen food is best defrosted overnight in the top compartment of the refrigerator. Although this takes a little longer, it is a controlled process. The food also remains chilled afterward.

A positive side effect: the refrigerator uses less energy. Put what you want to defrost or defrost on a large plate so that the condensation does not drip down.

If you prepare a pasta bake that comes into the oven later, it should be at the top of the fridge. Just like the rest of it after eating. However, you should let them cool well beforehand, preferably to room temperature.

When you put anything hot in the fridge, the temperature suddenly rises in the entire cold room. This can have a negative impact on the storage of other foods and, incidentally, also costs energy unnecessarily.

Fruit and vegetables

With fruits and vegetables, it is less a question of where it is stored in the refrigerator. There is a vegetable compartment for that. Instead, it is about which fruits and vegetables need to be cooled and which are better stored outside.

Conclusion: Fresh food stays fresh longer

Not everything is always in its ideal place in our fridge. We just put a lot where there is space. But we only do that for foods that we consume quickly.

When it comes down to it – because it is perishable or should last a long time – we definitely pay attention to where we put something. This is the only way to keep fresh food fresh longer.

It depends on which zone you put it because every food has its own optimal temperature. You don’t just have more time to use it. Vitamins and nutrients also last longer.

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