Karen Wiggins on December 6, 2017 0 Comments It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without a fridge in the kitchen. Think about it. Almost everything you’ve come to rely on to nourish your body is stored right there in the fridge. This one appliance not only stores these items, but actually has the ability to extend the longevity of many different types of food and beverages. Of course, like all appliances in your home, you still have to clean it out and keep it maintained. This may include a deep clean or just a quick inventory of expired items. Either way, this always starts with the items you are keeping inside of it. When Was The Last Time You Cleaned Out Your Fridge? Despite the prominent role this appliance plays in our daily life, it’s not uncommon to completely neglect to clean it on a regular basis. Perhaps this is because it’s a contained “box” that you want to keep sealed, or maybe nobody wants to do the dirty work. Whatever the reason is for your home, just know that you probably have a whole bunch of items tucked away inside your fridge right now that need to be trashed. To help you get started, we put together a list of items that you should check right now. If they’re expired or have been there for awhile, just throw them away before someone eats it. 1. Expired Bottles of Condiments Let’s start with the obvious, all the condiment bottles that are just loitering around. I think we’re all guilty of keeping unnecessary condiment bottles in the fridge. You never know when you’re gonna need to use that bottle of jalapeno ranch from last summer’s barbecue, right? Make it a routine to check the expiration dates to see how much longer your condiments have left. Don’t make it a hassle, just conduct a quick examination of your fridge every once in awhile to see if any of these need to be tossed. After all, how many bottles of ketchup does one home need? 2. Food With Mold This should really be a no-brainer. If you see anything with mold, get it out of your fridge and throw it away immediately. Yes, we’re talking about those fuzzy berries tucked away in the back of the fridge. The cold temperature merely delays the growth of mold, but will not prevent it entirely. Some foods will fare better than others, but they all go bad at some point. When you can physically see mold growing on your food, then it’s too late. The mold is already rooted in that item, and it needs to be removed from the fridge before it spreads to other items. The longer these items stay in your fridge, the more you risk cross-contamination. 3. Cans That Are Open You may need to refrigerate something when you only used half the can. You should make sure you cover it up with plastic wrap or transfer the contents into a another container before storing it. Open cans cause the contents to dry out. This means the flavor will deteriorate. Additionally, the food inside can become contaminated by the aromas and dripping of other items. Cover everything up before putting it inside the fridge, or only buy items that come in resealable bags. 4. Produce That Has Become Slimy & Shriveled Anyone that buys leafy greens in a bag know that they don’t stay fresh for very long. Despite your best efforts to extend their shelf-life and keep them crisp, they always wilt sooner than you want. A telltale sign that your leafy veggies have gone bad is that they appear slimy. There is nothing you can do to reverse this. Just toss the bag when you see it. Additionally, you should keep an eye on lemons and ginger in your fridge that appear shriveled up. It is not worth it to keep food at this point because it is not going to add anything to a dish. 5. Baking Soda One of the oldest tricks in the book is to leave an open box of baking soda inside your fridge. While it does help absorb all the unpleasant odors lingering, the big mistake that most of us make is leaving it in there for too long. If you’re using baking soda to deodorize and freshen up your fridge, you should change it out at least once a month. Arm & Hammer even prints it out right on the box. Unfortunately, most of us don’t pay much attention to it and let it sit for way too long. 6. Leftovers & Take-Out Cartons We all have some form of leftovers sitting around. For the most part, these leftovers after dinner and save them for lunch the next day. However, these all need to be consumed within a few days. After that, they need to go. The same can be said for any food you ordered-to-go or took home from a restaurant. After a day or two, it’s gonna go bad. That leftover rice from your Chinese takeout is already stale. The bun from your burger is rock hard. It’s not going to taste very good, and it may just make you sick. 8. Mystery Meat Have you ever had food in your fridge for so long you forgot what it was? It is never safe to eat something that has been in there for that long, so you are better off tossing it. You could try smelling it to see if it is still fresh, but it is safer to simply get more food than risk eating something contaminated. 9. Soft Cheeses Soft cheese here refers to things like goat cheese and ricotta. Most of the time, these will only last for about a week or so. Fortunately, there are plenty of dishes ricotta works great in, such as sandwiches, dips and pasta sauces. Only buy it when you need it and are prepare to use it in a recipe. 10. Ground Beef & Raw Poultry The USDA recommends that you store all raw meat at or below 40°F, and consume it within two days of purchasing it. After this time, you run the risk of bacterial growth in the meat. Consuming it after this point could get you sick. If you don’t plan on cooking it within this time, put it in the freezer and then thaw it out the day you plan on cooking. If you freeze it correctly, ground beef can last up to four months. 11. Chicken & Veggie Broth You should refrigerate any leftover chicken broth after making yourself some soup. You should be able to use a full carton if you plan on making soup for several people. However, if you just need a little broth to make a cream sauce, then you may have a lot of leftovers. This needs to be consumed within four days of opening or else it is going to go bad. 11. Buttermilk If you enjoy making homemade ranch dressing, then chances are you buy buttermilk with some frequency. The problem is that buttermilk often comes in such large containers, and more often than not, you only need a little bit to perfect your recipe. Generally, a carton of buttermilk will only last for about two weeks in a fridge. After that, don’t risk it, just throw it away. 12. Random Odds & Ends Have you ever looked inside your fridge and cannot remember how you came across a certain item? Perhaps it was a gift from a friend you never got around to eating. Maybe you have food in your fridge that is better-suited as an ingredient, but you do not need it for that purpose that often. For example, if you typically do not eat fish, then there would be no reason to keep a lot of tartar sauce in your refrigerator. Do some spring cleaning once in a while, and pay attention to what you can do without. Let’s Get Started. It is worth it to clean out your fridge once in a while. You should even temporarily remove everything so that you can adequately wipe down all the shelves. This will keep your fridge running efficiently, and you know everything inside is safe for consumption. It is also nice to avoid being greeted by a petulant smell every time you open the door. And, once you’re done with the fridge… take a look at what you have stashed away in your freezer.