The Major Mistake You're Making When Storing Milk in the Fridge
Temperatures inside a refrigerator can be inconsistent over time and fluctuate from place to place. Just like your oven, your fridge has hot spots and cool ones. This affects your food's quality and longevity.
The Worst Spot for Milk in Your Fridge
The worst spot for temperature swings? Your refrigerator door. It's the warmest spot in your fridge, after all. Just think: Every time you open the fridge door, you're dragging everything stored there into what's likely the hottest room in your house. Warmer temperatures and frequent fluctuations can put food at risk of spoiling, especially milk and cream.
RELATED: 10 Things You Should Not Refrigerate
Although a gallon or half gallon of milk may fit perfectly in the fridge door bins, the warmer temperatures may make the liquid curdle before you can drink it. Likewise, potentially harmful bacteria grow at warmer temperatures. The longer milk is exposed to the heat of a kitchen, the faster bacteria will grow.
Help your milk last longer by storing it at the back of the fridge on a shelf near the middle or bottom. Hot air rises, so upper shelves may be a few degrees warmer than lower ones.
As for your fridge door compartments, they're the perfect place to store the least perishable foods you have, like ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, salad dressing, jam, and bottled beverages like sparkling water. These foods, though they taste better or last longer when cold, are less perishable, meaning they're less likely to spoil quickly.
Milk Handling Tips for a Longer Shelf Life
Taking care to protect milk from warm temperatures throughout the time you have it can help it last longer and taste better until the last drop.
Don't Forget About Other Forms of Dairy, Including Breast Milk
These rules apply to half & half, cream, and whipping cream, too. And FYI, the CDC clearly states on its website that the same goes for breast milk: "Do not store breast milk in the door of the refrigerator or freezer. This will help protect the breast milk from temperature changes from the door opening and closing."
Non-Dairy Milks Should Follow the Same Guidelines
Before you take your dairy milk out of the door and replace it with your favorite almond or soy milk, know that non-dairy milks—even those that are shelf-stable at room temperature prior to being opened—must also be kept below 40 F to prevent harmful bacteria growth. If your shelf-stable non-dairy milk is unopened, you can store it in the refrigerator door to keep it chilled only until you unseal the carton.