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The quest for the ideal temperature

Let’s face it, keeping your food fresh is the reason why you own a refrigerator in the first place. Both your refrigerator and freezer compartments have ideal conditions that slow the development of bacteria and ensures your food is preserved properly but knowing the right temperature is vital to keeping everything fresh. It can also be a good way to save on your electricity bill.

If you want to get the most out of your food storage, we’ve got some helpful tips on how to best manage your refrigerator temperature, just keep reading.

Freezer first:

Health Canada recommends your freezer temperature to be set at -18 degrees Celsius. According to their website, this is the temperature where the metabolic rate of spoilage is the lowest while allowing you to maintain the food’s nutrient level.

Bottom freezer drawer
Placement is key in optimizing freezer space. Image courtesy of Fisher & Paykel

Air is the enemy of your frozen food as it can cause frost to form, so to eliminate it, make sure to use airtight containers or a vacuum sealer. Dating your food is also a great idea since some of it will go bad after a certain time, even if kept frozen.

And now the complicated fridge

Once again according to Health Canada, 4 degrees Celsius is the ideal temperature for your refrigerator. Because of the frequent door openings, most refrigerator will keep the interior temperature between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius, which is in accordance with the guidelines. While it’s easy to think only temperature has an impact on how well your food is preserved, there are a number of different factors that can affect it.

As in real life, physics plays a role in how the air moves in your refrigerator. Hot air tends to rise and cold air tends to drop. While manufacturers are working hard to counter that effect, there still can be a slight temperature difference (about 1 degree) between the bottom and top shelf of your refrigerator.

Knowing this will allow you to place your food strategically to ensure maximum freshness:

Vegetables and produce should go in the bottom drawers

Meat and fresh fish should be on the bottom shelf

Dairy products and deli meats should be somewhere in the middle

All meals that have been cooked should be on the top shelf

Refrigerator produce drawer
Produce should go in the bottom drawer. Image courtesy of Bosch

In order to allow for even more control, a good refrigerator should also have compartments and drawers that allow for a better humidity control to keep a narrower temperature band.