Fridge Wars

Kelly reminded me last week that the original impetus for last week’s Butter Wars was actually from a practical article from October’s issue of Real Simple. Y’know, what belongs in the fridge and what belongs in the pantry. Apparently this is the kind of thing that Classics (SJs) really dig so they can have confirmation that they’re right. Unfortunately, my Organic Freedom (NFP) personality type got away from me and I ended up talking about how my husband bugs me. It’s a akin to my general conversational abilities: “Wait, what was I talking about again?” So. This week. I’m going to concentrate. On the fridge. Details. Practicalities. Solutions. What should go in the fridge and what should stay out and how in the world do you keep the thing organized in a multiple person household.

First off, the easy part. Logic and facts for you Smarts (NTs) and Funs (SPs), good sense and a nice list for all you Classics (SJs), Smart Structures (NTJs) and Organic Structures (NFJs). Oh plus some value based reality checks for you Organics (NFs), Classic Freedoms (SFJs) and Fun Freedoms (STPs).

What stays in the Fridge?

  1. Cut flowers. Really? Why? Apparently they’ll last longer if you store them in their overnight. Guess that’s why florist shops keep them in the fridge, yeah?
  2. Ripe Bananas. Apparently the peels will get all gross but the goods inside will stay fresh a couple of days longer.
  3. Old-School Film. Remember film stores? Yeah it’s vague. Remember how they stored the film in refrigerators? I know it’s hard to remember, but it’s true. Do you even have a film camera anymore? Yeah, we don’t either.
  4. Natural Peanut Butter. Yes, I might have actually alluded to this last week. Refrigerated cold peanut butter is a biatch to spread on Wonder Bread actually on ANY commercial soft bread. Double check on the jar, but Jif and Skippy are fine in the cupboard. Natural not so much. Oh and remember to swirly it together before you stick it in the fridge.
  5. Avocados. Once they’re ripe stick them in the fridge. I can attest to this because I often forget about them in the fridge and a week or so later they’re still good.
  6. Candles and Lipstick. Don’t they both have wax in them or something? Apparently the candles will burn slower and drip less, but who has room for something extra like this? Lipstick will last longer. Only useful of course if you have a favorite shade that you need to stock up on because it was discontinued?
  7. Garden Seeds. Make sure they’re in a moisture proof container, but they’ll last longer in here.
  8. Olive oil and vegetable oil. Is fine in the cupboard or out on a lazy susan next to the fridge, in fact who wants to cook with cold oil?
  9. Homemade Cookies. Now this is just stupid. Who has leftover homemade cookies? This is, of course, a value based opinion (Organic, Fun Freedom, Classic Freedom) based purely on my own personal cookie addiction. But seriously, when I do have them left over, a Ziplock bag is sufficient to keep them moist and at a more palatable room temperature. However, I did amaze my children recently by taking dried out store bought sugar cookies and zapping in them in the microwave for 10 seconds and making them almost fresh-out-of-the oven good. So I’ll try not to get too annoyed the next time my husband puts them in the fridge.

What Stays Out of the Fridge

  1. Hot Sauce. They say it can stay outside of the fridge for up to three years. I have no common sense to add because hot sauce does bad things to my insides.
  2. Potatoes. Fridge messes with its flavor, and plastic traps moisture and speeds up its decay. Paper bags are the best place for them. They should last outside the fridge for up to three week.
  3. Onions. Best kept in their original netting, or any bag that allows for circulation. Keep them away from potatoes which are apparently pretty gassy and make onions rot.
  4. Garlic. Ditto.
  5. Tomatoes. They get mealy in the fridge. Don’t know what mealy is, but I guess that’s not good. I’m not a big tomato fan, so I guess I’m going to take their word for it.
  6. Winter Squashes. Acorn, butternut, delicata and spaghetti last for a month or more in the pantry.
  7. Coffee. Yeah. I remembered reading this a while back. The condensation in the fridge can mess with the flavor of the beans, ground or whole. So airtight container in the pantry is best.
  8. Nail Polish. Huh? Who in the heck would ever think to do this?  Refrigeration doesn’t do anything except make it thicken and harder to use. Just keep it room temperature and out of the sun.
  9. Bread. Now apparently bread gets dried out in the fridge, but if you want your bread to last more than a couple of days in the summer, then my experience suggests that the fridge is the place. Also, bread I don’t eat as often, like hotdog buns or English muffins, tend to last longer. Real Simple says to keep those things in the freezer, but ever try prying apart a frozen English muffin? I suppose it’s better, but I find that the minute something goes into the always unorganized freezer, it ceases to exist.

As personality type experts, we find that logic can be a very persuasive argument when it comes to the science of food and spoilage. When it comes to how to keep things organized within said fridge? A little practical usage, or common sense—which is probably more subjective and relied upon more easily by Organics, Fun Freedoms and Smart Freedoms—is also just as important. For instance, Real Simple says to keep milk in the back because it won’t spoil as quickly, but frankly what a pain to keep the milk in the back of the fridge if it’s what you use the most? We go through at least two gallons or more a week and I even convinced my husband to put it on the door (I know egad, the least cold place) because it’s easier to grab and I don’t have to bend and hurt my back to get it.

But here’s another logic list and the commonsense to go with it:

The best place to keep the food.

Eggs. Middle shelf because it’s most consistent temperature wise. They don’t suggest transferring the eggs to the fridge egg container, but who has those anymore? I wager newer fridges have them in the right place.

Milk. Bottom shelf way in the back. As if! Common sense should prevail here unless you rarely use milk; keep it where it’s most convenient.

Yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese. Bottom shelf because it’s the coldest. They do recommend a lazy susan and we do like this idea because it’s easier to get to stuff in the back, except that it will take up a lot of precious room, and—reality common sense check here—if you need to stack then they’ll fall over when you’re rotating.

Raw Meat. I never understand why my logical husband never puts meat where it won’t drip over everything else, which would be the bottom shelf. But he doesn’t. And it bugs me. And if we had raw meat all the time I might make a big deal out of it.

Fruits and Vegetables don’t mix well. Gassy fruits like apples and pears make lettuce faint, I mean wilt. So low humidity drawer (if you got a fancy fridge) is for fruit, high humidity for veggies. Oooh. And here’s a list of foods from Real Simple that should never hang out together.

Deli meats. These should go in the deli meat drawer which is slightly colder than the rest of the fridge. I keep mine on the top shelf under the light and it’s always going bad quickly, so maybe I should shake it up and keep them on the bottom. However if I did I bet they’d keep ending up on the top shelf because that’s what my husband is used to.

Butter and soft cheese. It’s good where it is, probably the butter compartment on the door which is the warmest part of the fridge. And if you read last week’s, the salted butter can stay out of the fridge for a couple of days before it turns.

Condiments. These are also fine on the “warm” door because they usually have high vinegar contents and salt which keeps them fresh on their own. Oh and nut oils like sesame and walnut should also be in the fridge on the door.

Orange Juice. If it’s pasteurized it can go on the door, if it’s fresh squeezed then bottom shelf. But again, I mean this goes back to the milk thing. Pasteurized, especially ultra pasteurized milk is going to stay pretty fresh on the door, no problem. Especially if you drink it all the time.  And c’mon, if you’ve got fresh squeezed orange juice, um, why are you going to be stored for that long?!

And as to HOW to keep everything organized how you would like it, we have—after years of personality type expertise and trial and error and on site home organization efforts—two words for you: FRIDGE NAZI. And we say this with all acknowledgement of how difficult it is for some personality types to put things away in the same place, or how hard it is for kids to be neat and orderly. And I don’t mean to denigrate properly disciplined households with the word Nazi, or suggest horrific punishment as a means of pursuing your goals, but the only way we have found to keep your fridge organized the way want, is to be like that annoying Nazi boy in The Sound of Music, and blow your whistle every time you see someone breaking the rules.

You need to be vigilant in your policing of the fridge and use any means necessary in order to accomplish your goal. Visual labels on every inch of the fridge will not be enough, but are a good start. Consistent and repetitive communication to all members of your household about your refrigerator expectations is the beginning. Then you must keep doing this until your constituency is worn down to the point of automatic and mindless adherence to your brave new world. May the Force be with you.