Your fridge has different compartments for different foodstuffs with different temperatures. Here’s a look at what they are:
In most fridges, the top shelf has the highest but most consistent temperature, so it’s a good place to store hummus, olives, cooked meats and leftovers, as well as green leaves and salads.
The middle shelves
The middle shelves might be subject to more temperature fluctuations, especially if the door is opened often – if, for example, you have teenage children who indulge in the pastime of ‘fridge-gazing’. Use these shelves for food you’re planning to consume in the next day or two.
The lower shelf has the coolest temperature, so meats should be stored here. Heavy objects such as glass bottles should also be stored on the bottom shelf to prevent any unfortunate accidents.
Fruit & veg drawer
This has a low temperature and, because of the drawer, it has a climate and humidity better suited to storing fresh fruit and veg. Keep aromatic veg like onions, leaks and chives separate and wrapped well.
The door has the lowest temperature and is also subject to temperature fluctuations, so store things here that will be used the same day.
Your meats should be divided between raw meat and cooked meat, and it’s important to store these on different shelves. As a rule, raw meat should be stored on the bottom shelf, while cooked meats should be stored on the top shelf. Storing raw meat on the upper shelves risks juices dripping onto food on the lower shelves, which can be dangerous.
Your raw turkey is the biggest object in your Christmas fridge, and so it should be stored on the bottom shelf where the temperature is cooler. Make sure to wrap it well. Cooked turkey should be cut up into pieces and wrapped individually to be stored on the upper shelves and away from any raw ingredients.
These are ok to store on the upper shelves, but they should be well wrapped, or even better, put into airtight containers, which will help them last longer as well as keep strong odours away from other foods.
Stuffing and sausages
Most stuffing recipes call for sausage meat, which means they should be handled with care. All raw pork products should be kept in airtight containers and kept on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
Raw fish should be stored in an airtight container and kept away from other foods as much as possible. Raw fish contains harmful bacteria and can contaminate other foodstuffs in your fridge. Fish, especially seafood, should be as fresh as possible and bought on the day you are intending to cook it, but if you are keeping it in the fridge overnight, make sure it is well sealed.
If you’re storing shellfish like mussels, clams, or oysters, keep them well-wrapped on the bottom shelf. Ask your fishmonger exactly how long you can store them and when and how they should be cleaned and cooked. Nothing will ruin Christmas like an out of date clam. Keep cooked fish like crab meat separate from raw fish and meats.
The fridge door is not the best place to store dairy, as the constant opening and closing of the fridge door can cause an inconsistent temperature. Store your dairy - milk, cream, butter, eggs and cheese - at the back of the fridge where the temperature is colder and they will last longer.
The fridge door is useful for dairy that you need to have to hand while cooking, so you can keep cream, eggs and butter here, but the constant fluctuations in temperature will limit how long they will last.
Soft cheeses like Stilton and gorgonzola can be stored with hard cheeses, but use a cheesecloth or other cheese wrap to keep strong smells at bay. Whipped cream should be kept in an airtight container so as not to absorb contaminants.
Desserts, especially those with dairy or ice cream in them, should also be stored at the back of the fridge. It is also worth removing them from their serving bowls or trays, as they can pick up odours and flavours easily from other foodstuffs. Berries such as strawberries should be kept in a container in the middle part of the fridge and away from the back, as colder temperatures can make them go limp.
Fruit & veg
The bottom compartment of the fridge is colder and is designed for fruit and vegetables. Be sure to remove any spoiled or rotting items from here regularly as they can cause the others to spoil. Bananas should be kept separate as they can cause other fruit to spoil quicker. Do not wash fruit and veg before storing them, as that will cause them to go off quicker. Green leaves and salad are among the things thrown away most often, so buy only what you are sure you are going to use.
What not to store in the fridge
Vegetables like onions, potatoes and garlic don't need to be stored in the fridge, and will last just as long in a dry dark place. Some fruits fare better outside the fridge, like tomatoes, bananas and melons. Baked goods, including bread, Christmas cake and mince pies, taste better when stored in a container outside the fridge.