01 May 2020

Chilling & Freezing: Doing the best for both your refrigeration and your food

We have put together some tips that will help you get the best from both your refrigeration units and from your food. Some tips will seem obvious, but we are all a bit guilty of sometimes just putting that dish in a bit warm, or leaving the door open while you rush off and do something else – so use this as your best practice guide.

Chilling & Freezing: Doing the best for both your refrigeration and your food

Position in the kitchen:

Avoid the sun – keeping your fridge or freezer out of the sun will significantly improve it’s performance and efficiency. 

And avoid other appliances.  When your fridge sits next to your cooking appliances or dishwasher, it has to work harder to keep things cool. Heat from other appliances can transfer to your fridge through metal conduction, meaning your refrigerator has to expend more energy to maintain its temperature. If you have the space, move your fridge or freezer to a corner against the wall, with plenty of air space behind and above, and away from your other appliances.

Your fridge also needs a level floor to keep its seal tight—leaning too far to one side or another can put weight on the door hindering it sealing correctly.

Inside the fridge:

Airflow – never block the air vents as this will inhibit the fridges cooling ability and cause it to draw more power to compensate.  There needs to be enough room for the cool air to circulate around the food to keep items cold, so don’t pack it too full and avoid pushing food up against the walls.  Don’t place food directly on the bottom of the fridge either – this again hinders airflow.

Make sure your fridge or freezer is running at the right temperature

You will no doubt be using thermometers in your fridges as part of your food safety plan.  If you aren’t you should – this will ensure your fridge is running at an optimum temperature both for the power consumption and to keep your food safe while extending it’s useable life.  

Standard recommended fridge temperatures is between 0ᵒ and 4ᵒC, however most vegetables will spoil at temperatures lower than 1ᵒC, and leafy greens are best kept between 3ᵒC & 4ᵒC.  Freezers should be kept at or below -18ᵒC.

When the weather is warmer it can pay to turn your fridge or freezer down to compensate for the warm air that will be entering the fridge when the door is opened.

Moving on from that, another killer for keeping a constant low temperature in a fridge is by putting warm food into the fridge.  So that brings us to:

Let hot food cool down

Quite simply: don’t put hot food in the fridge.  Let it cool down first.  Warm food in the fridge will cause the inside temperature to rise and make it less efficient.  This does not only make the fridge cost more to run, but it will also put the other food in your fridge at risk of spoiling.  We recommend food should be no hotter than 37ᵒC for best results. 

If you need to cool your hot food fast, consider investing in a blast chiller or else try another way of cooling food without putting your fridge and it’s contents at risk, such as making an ice bath for your food.

Keep it clean

That’s not only inside but also out.  

Dust build up in the cavity behind and beneath your refrigeration units will also hinder good air circulation.  Regularly pull the unit out and vacuum behind and around to clear out any dust and debris in the area.

Fridge smelling?

Sadly it happens to the best of us.  A simple cheap fridge deodoriser is storing an open box of baking (bicarb) soda in an out of the way corner.  Of course, when you replace the bicarb every three months, don’t bake with it.  If baking soda doesn't help the odour straight off, you can also distribute freshly ground coffee evenly on a plate and put it in the fridge for 24 hours.

Another sure way of helping is to: 

Cover your food

Your fridge actually doesn’t like the gasses that some foods produce.  And they’re pretty much the same as humans on some of them.  Foods such as onions (cooked or raw) and fish give off gasses that can, over time, be very harmful to refrigeration units. 

Regularly check your door seal

Make sure there is a complete seal around the fridge door so that no cold air can escape. One way to test this is to put a piece of paper into the fridge seal and close the door. If the paper is held in place firmly than there is no issue with the seal.  

Keep the door closed as much as possible

Just like you wouldn’t open your oven door while you’re doing baking, you don’t want to open the fridge and let all that cold air out (or the hot air from your kitchen in).  Keeping the door closed as much as possible means your fridge is working more efficiently and economically.

If you are lucky enough to have a glass door on your fridge or freezer you have it easy.  Select what you want, then open, grab and close. 

Additional tips for your freezer:

As we have stated in the fridge section – don’t over fill!  This is even more important in a freezer, as if there isn’t sufficient air circulation the evaporator and or fan can ice up and may require a full manual defrost.  If this is missed, this how you can sadly open a warm freezer full of spoiled food. 

Don’t fill higher than the maximum full level shown by the freezer manufacturer. 

Consider the temperature of the food you are putting in your freezer.  If you are putting a lot of food into the freezer all at once, try to cool it in the fridge first, rather than putting in room temperature food which will require a lot of cooling.  NEVER put hot food into the freezer, always chill to at least room temperature, or ideally overnight in the fridge.  If blast chilling or freezing is important you may need to invest in a blast freeze