Whether you’ve got a huge American-style fridge freezer or a small integrated one, the temperature in your fridge varies greatly from shelf to shelf, so your Christmas food could suffer if you’re not careful.
Follow our tips and advice to get the most out of your festive food this year.
See all our Best Buy fridge freezers.
How to store your food this Christmas
Fruit and veg drawers
It’s tempting to stuff fruit and veg wherever you can find space at this time of year, but the more you can keep in the fruit and vegetable crisper drawers the better.
They have a sightly different climate and humidity to the rest of the fridge, so they’re definitely the best place for your sprouts.
Your turkey, or any meat and fish for that matter, needs to be stored at as close to 0°C as possible (although not colder). This will help to lock in freshness and keep heat-loving bacteria at bay.
So it follows that you should keep it in the coldest part of your fridge. Unless you have a specially designed chiller drawer for meat and fish, which wouldn’t be big enough for a turkey anyway, the coldest part of your fridge will be the lowest shelf, directly above the fruit and vegetable drawers.
Keep as much of your meat and fish there as possible, even if it means rearranging the position of your shelves.
Any meat and fish that you can’t squeeze onto the lowest shelf should go on the next shelf up, as that will be the next coldest. So that’s where you’ll want to keep your pigs in blankets.
For all meat and fish, make sure it’s not dripping onto any other foods below.
The higher middle shelves are also a good place for sauces, pre-cooked foods and condiments, so think bread sauce and cranberry sauce.
The top shelf and top door rack are where your fridge will be warmest, so use that to your advantage.
It’s the perfect place for dairy foods, such as cheese and butter, as they’re less perishable than meat and fish. And it will take them less time to come up to room temperature if you want them to soften a bit before eating.
What’s the right fridge temperature?
The temperature in your fridge should be kept between 0°C and 5°C, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
You’d expect the manufacturer’s recommended thermostat setting on your fridge freezer to automatically get your fridge within this range, but don’t be so sure.
Our fridge freezer testing reveals that you often can’t rely on these settings, with the worst models sending the temperature in the fridge soaring above 10°C – warm enough to invite heat-loving bacteria inside.
Consider buying a fridge thermometer to get your fridge to the perfect temperature. But bear in mind there will be a difference of several degrees between the temperature at the top and bottom of your fridge, so aim for temperatures close to freezing at the bottom and around 5°C at the top.
Find out more about how to keep food fresher for longer.
What not to put in the fridge
There are certain things you shouldn’t ever put in the fridge, so if you tend to keep them in there you can save some space by taking them out. These include:
- Certain vegetables, including onions, potatoes and garlic
- Certain fruits, including tomatoes, bananas and melons
- Baked items, including bread, Christmas cake and mince pies.
See the best mince pies for Christmas 2019.
There are also several other foods you can get away with not putting in if you’re still struggling for space in the run-up to Christmas Day.
For example, the debate on whether eggs should be kept in the fridge continues to rage, but whichever side of it you fall on, you can get away with keeping them at room temperature for a few days over Christmas if need be.
And if you’re really struggling for space, removing bulky bottles and canned drinks, such as beer and fizzy soft drinks, will free up a lot of room.
Early forecasts suggest it’s going to be a pretty mild Christmas this year, with most of the UK likely to be between 0° and 10°C, so you can get away with putting them in the garden.
It’s probably best to keep your Best Buy champagne in the fridge, though.
Buy a multizone fridge freezer next year
Granted, it’s probably a bit late to start thinking about getting a new fridge freezer in time for Christmas this year.
But if you’ve had your current model longer than you care to remember – the average lifespan of a fridge freezer is 11 years, according to our research – then why not make this the last year you have to put up with a lack of space.
Modern fridge freezers generally contain more usable volume than older models, with manufacturers coming up with clever ways of maximising volume and making the storage space more flexible.
For example, a growing number of models have a multizone compartment that can be used as either fridge or freezer. So in the run-up to Christmas day, you could use it for extra fridge space, before switching it into a freezer for all your leftovers.
Click on the tech spec tab in each of our fridge freezer reviews to see whether that model has a multizone compartment.