The Secret Life of Your Refrigerator
Your refrigerator: You know it as the place you store everything from fruits to veggies, to meats, cheeses, and Monday's leftovers. But your fridge is more than a cool rectangular box. It's got a lot going on under the hood—or in the crisper drawer—so to speak. So we sat down with Kenmore Brands principal industrial designer Tony Shoemaker to find out what's really happening in your refrigerator—and how you can maximize what it has to offer. Here are three things you should remember to do:
Utilize the different temperatures in your refrigerator.
"I think most people assume that their fridge is all one temperature to keep all foods preserved, but many foods need different conditions to keep them fresh longer," explains Shoemaker. And it's not just temperatures that extend or shorten the lifespan of your foods—humidity comes into play, too. Take your refrigerator's crisper bins, for example, where you may place your vegetables and fruit. But "fruits need to be kept drier than vegetables—thanks to their high water content and skins that hold water in," says Shoemaker, "whereas vegetables tend to shed their moisture easily." Take advantage of your fridge's temperatures, then, by removing your fruits from the crisper. (You can keep the veggies there, though.) And those meats and cheeses you're keeping on the top shelf? Time to move them to the bottom. "Meats and cheeses need to be kept even colder than fruits and vegetables," Shoemaker says. And inside your fridge, cool air sinks. "We put our meat and cheese storage areas lower to preserve the food for longer," he says.
Get a fridge with two motors.
Your car only has one engine—so why does something substantially smaller need two? "It all comes back to better food preservation," says Shoemaker. Refrigerators that have only one motor, a system called a single evaporator, push cool air from the inside of the freezer and down into the fridge, Shoemaker explains. But, "when this air is shared between the freezer and the fridge, the air becomes far drier—plus, it removes needed moisture from the refrigerator section, which can shorten your food's preserved life." A single motor can also cause some areas of your fridge to become too warm or too cold. But a dual evaporator—a system with two motors—works separately, cooling the freezer independently from the fridge. So if you're shopping for a new refrigerator, then, look for one with a dual evaporator. It may be more expensive upfront, but it will save you lots of money over time on wasted food.
Never forget to replace your filters.
You fridge has two filters: a water filter and an air filter, both play important roles in the inner workings of your fridge. Water filters work like the filters you place on your faucet or in your pitcher, stripping contaminants from the water you drink. Your fridge's air filter, on the other hand, freshens the air in your fridge, removing gases and other odors much more effectively than an open box of baking soda. So when your fridge tells you it's time to make a swap, switch out these old filters for new—especially your water filter, Shoemaker warns. "If you keep using an old filter for too long, contaminants can become concentrated and wind up in your drinking water," he says.