It’s time for us to begin the journey, together, into our refrigerators. Whenever you cook, you should ultimately follow what makes you feel right. Taste, sight, smell and feel are all very subjective. I want you to fill your fridge with things that YOU like and will use. With the cost of food and restaurants only increasing, if you buy things that you like and then use them up with minimal wastage, you will save money. Filling your fridge with things, and then using them your own way will also help you feel creative and more adventurous.
I’m hungry. Let us open up and see what is inside!
What’s in my fridge you ask? Let me give you a quick breakdown:
The Basics: Milk, eggs, butter. Beer.
There are several other things which I consider to be “basics” that DON’T go in the fridge. Check out my blog on things that should STAY OUT! *coming soon*
Pickles: Pickles are amazing and you should always have them! Kimchi is also a great thing to have as well. I keep these in here for snacking, sandwiches and for any reason available. Pickles do have an extended shelf-life making them a great resource to turn to. Unless you don’t like them, which would be a shame.
Condiments: Mustard (you cannot go wrong with Dijon), ketchup, home-made mayonnaise, Worcestershire, sriracha, gochujhang, Chinese chili oil the list goes on and on! This is another great space to express yourself and experiment.
Fruit: I like to keep the house full of fruit for snacking on throughout the day. This tends to be focused on what is in season or what looks good at the market. Typically I have a bowl out with an array of fruits and then the remainder will be kept in the fridge for storage. This is also useful as different fruit ripen differently and refrigeration can help delay spoilage.
Fruits that emit ethylene gas should go in a drawer (Yes, that drawer does serve a purpose) in the bottom of the fridge with the low humidity setting that will let the gas escape.The general rule of thumb is to put things that tend to rot in a drawer with a low-humidity setting.
Vegetables: The veggies that do go in the fridge are split up between leafy greens and other stuff outside the crisper drawer. The high humidity setting locks in humidity to keep leafy greens fresher for longer. I sometimes use that as a space to also store cucumbers and other hearty veggies if I run out of space above.
My fridge is always prepped for a salad with a variety of vegetables depending on what is at the market. I like to change this depending on preferences and seasonality. Check out my salad guide here. *Coming Soon*
Herbs: Nothings packs a punch quite like herbs. Though more hardy in their dried form, herbs are relativity cheap and better in their fresh form so I tend to have parsley, coriander, mint and thyme on hand whenever I can. I also tend to grow rosemary and dill during the summer and freeze for over the winter months.
There is nothing wrong with dried herbs, but that is for a different blog post.Check out my herb guide here. *Coming Soon*
Proteins: Raw meat and fish are very susceptible to spoilage. Raw poultry, raw ground meats and poultry should be cooked in 2 days, and roasts, steaks, and chops should be cooked in five days. Because of their fragile nature, I prefer to either put proteins in the freezer for long-term storage or think ahead and buy for the week.
The important thing to remember also is that raw meat should be contained in bowls or containers and kept separate from other areas due to cross contamination. The lower in your fridge the better.
Cheese/Cured Things: This is an area that I am really passionate about. In general I will always have a good-sized chunk of parmigiano reggiano for Italian dishes and aged cheddar for snacking. Other great cheeses to have on hand are Gruyère, soft cheeses, goat cheeses and more! Check out my post on cheese here! *Coming Soon!*
Typically I also have some prosciutto or pancetta in this area too. As cheese and cured products last for a considerable time in the fridge they are great sources for inspiration. Sliced bacon and pre-sliced meat products do not have the same shelf-life and should be either frozen or consumed quickly.
I believe that with these things in your fridge you can liberate the kitchen from the confines of the recipe, the fridge will be our most important weapon. Teaching yourself to shop right and use what you have will having you coming home excited to cook and even invite over guests. Instead of looking depressed into your fridge, you will look into the fridge and be amazed by the possibilities.