Food

Fall Fridge/Freezer Clean-up

Recently I returned from a vacation and found my refrigerator almost empty. Before filling it again with fresh food, I decided this would be an ideal time to clean it. I also made a vow to label and date all jarred and frozen food. Masking tape is perfect for this job.

First I took out the crisper drawers, emptied them of wilted veggies and shriveled fruit, washed them with hot soapy water, and scrubbed the area under the drawers where a mystery dried up liquid had accumulated (Gross!). Then I checked all the jars of condiments, mustards, etc. for expired dates. In the garbage went the maraschino cherries used to decorate a cake in January along with other jars of items I knew I would never use. Replacement of a box of baking soda was the last part of cleaning the inside. I used the old box for cleaning.

The freezer part of my side by side also held freezer burned items such as ice cream purchased in August, an on sale turkey from last year, hot dog rolls, etc. Again these are items I would never eat or serve to anyone. I have been placing food in dated baggies so I didn’t have much guessing to do. I emptied and washed the ice cube trays, shelves and walls with the hottest soapy water I could handle since the dish rag wants to stick to the frozen surface.

Now empty of food I would never eat, I washed all the shelves and walls, the gasket and finally the outside. I rid my door of dated “reminders”, and rearranged magnets. I discarded a variety of items from the top of my fridge and washed it leaving only a collection of wicker baskets. Tomorrow I’ll think about what to do with them.

Next I tackled the cupboards for dated food. I really was surprised to see about ten cans of items ranging from bottled gravy, canned soups, and surprisingly; crackers and pastas with expired dates. Spices lose their flavor fast, so I checked those as well. So many items are dated, but some aren’t (or I was unable to find the date). I’ve learned that it’s really important to check the dates before purchasing because sometimes items are near expiration date or even past the expiration date. As my mother used to say, “When it doubt, throw it out.”

Happily I now have more room for food storage and the knowledge that it all is fresh.

Here is a great site with guidelines for food storage.

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Rachael Ray