The Kitchen is one of the hardest working areas of our home. This is where everyone gathers to eat, chat, do homework, make crafts and even conduct business.

Being the “heart” of the home this room deserves the most of our attention by keeping it neat, clean, tidy and organized as much as possible in order for it function efficiently as well as maintaining our health.

This is why we dedicated the month of March to focus on fridge and freezer, pantries , cupboards and drawers, de-clutter and organization.

This week we are taking care of the fridge and freezer. We thought we would share some useful tips, cleaning hacks and safe storage solutions for these spaces.

One of my earlier careers was working for a non-profit organization as a team lead in a café setting. I was required to obtain my Food Handlers certification in order to meet municipal requirements. As a lifelong learner by nature, I eagerly attended the course and was very surprised to learn the amount of reported food borne illnesses that are acquired right from our own homes! I’m guilty as having broken a few rules over the years!

Canada foodborne illness statistics The Government of Canada estimates that there are about 4 million cases of foodborne illness in Canada every year. Many foodborne illnesses can be prevented by following these safe food-handling practices: clean, separate, cook and chill.Dec 2, 2019

Causes of food poisoning – Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspection.gc.ca › fact-sheets-and-infographics › food-poisoning › en    

Temperature

 The reason we chose March as a good month for fridges and freezers is that the temperature outside is still hovering between 1◦ to 5 ◦ Celsius. Why would this matter? As we are clearing out all of the items from the fridge prior to cleaning we can use “Mother Nature’s” fridge to keep things cool while we work!

  • If you don’t have the luxury of having two fridges, placing things in a box or cooler and setting them on your porch or patio while you work is the next best thing!
*TIP* Health Canada has several guidelines for slowing the growth of bacteria on our food. I have provide you with a link to their food storage guidelines https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/general-food-safety-tips/safe-food-storage.html that includes a handy temperature chart you can print and keep for easy reference in your kitchen .  
  • Ideal fridge temperature should be kept at around 3◦ C to 4◦ C to keep foods from gaining any unhealthy bacteria.  Freezer temperature is usually kept around -18◦ C to -19◦ C for optimal freezing.  Here is a picture from my own fridge showing that we have it kept at an ideal temperature.
  • Thawing meat on the counter is not advisable (guilty 😉) The best and safest way to thaw meat is in the fridge over a day or two. Faster safe methods are in the sink under cool water or using the defrost function of our microwaves

Cleaning

  • We use simple a solution of warm water, baking soda and dish soap to give the fridge a wipe down. For stickier jobs wetting a paper towel and letting it sit for awhile helps break things down making it easier to remove. The baking soda also helps to eliminate any lingering odors inside the fridge.
  • Stainless steel fridges are very common. The one complaint we hear most often is that they keep getting smudges and fingerprints on them leaving them with a grungy appearance. I have used both natural and chemical products to shine up the outside of our appliances.
*TIP* Here is a great article I came across “10 Surprising Ways to Clean Stainless Steel” by Jeff Flowers
This is what I use at home
  • For a more natural solution a simple vinegar and olive oil solution works well also.
  • After everything is clean, place some paper towels in the crisper to help keep the produce fresh.
  • Wiping up spills as soon as they happen can help ensure they don’t become a task to clean later!

Storage

 Fridge organization and storage is done best when following some simple rules of thumb to not only maintain freshness but to keep ourselves from getting sick from any food borne illnesses.

  • Always check storage directions on the label of any product like “refrigerate after opening” or “use within 7 days after opening” .
  • Always store uncooked meat in a separate location then your ready to eat foods like fruits and vegetables. We always suggest using the bottom shelf for this.
Fridge Binz Egg Holders
“These containers are great for keeping eggs fresh and creating valuable real estate in the fridge by allowing items to be stored on top!”
  • Try and store eggs in their own carton or a sealed plastic carton and in the fridge rather then the door where the temperature is warmer.  
  • Keep foods covered in sealed containers or in plastic wraps to ensure they keep their freshness and don’t contaminate other food items
  • Freezing does not kill most bacteria. Proper food handling before freezing will decrease the chances of something getting harmful bacteria.
  • Keeping like items together in the same area of the fridge not only makes things easier to find, it will decrease the chances of something getting buried and forgotten and then ultimately wasted.
  • Throw out expired and bruised items
  • Weekly purging and a simple wipe down just before shopping day will help keep things clean and organized!

***Next week we will get down and dirty with Pantry storage and organization! We will share some tips on ways to clear, clean, de-clutter, organize and maintain your pantry!*** Have an awesome week! ❤ Alana