Frostless and self-defrosting refrigerators tend to have uniform temperatures throughout. But the coldest place in many refrigerators is likely to be the bottom, because heat rises. The meat drawer is often thought of as the coldest spot, but it may or may not be so. In manually defrosted refrigerators, in which the meat tray is right under the freezer, this may be the case. (If you are in doubt, use your thermometer to find out.) The bottom of your refrigerator, too, may not be much colder than the top nowadays because fans in many refrigerators circulate the air and keep the temperature much more uniform. The difference between the bottom and the top of my own refrigerator is only one degree. Wherever your refrigerator is coolest, and at the back of the shelf, is where you should keep fish, fresh meats, poultry, and milk and other fresh dairy products, as well as any other foods that need cold temperatures. (Remember that fish spoils even more readily than meat; it should always be kept very cool.) Ideally, all these would be stored just above freezing, at 33° or 34°F. (Don't let them freeze.) But if your refrigerator will not keep things this cold, do not worry; they keep well as long as temperatures are at 40°F or below. Most leftovers should also be kept at 40°F or below.
Copyright © 1999 by Cheryl Mendelson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Simon & Schuster.
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