What Temperature Should a Freezer Be?

Refrigerator temperatures come automatically set to factory recommendations, which are the proper refrigerator temperature of 37 degrees and the ideal freezer temperature of zero degrees.

These are generally the correct temperatures, but according to Whirlpool Corp., your freezer is set at the correct temperature when the ice cream is firm.

Freezer at Wrong Temperature

If the freezer is too warm or too cold, first check the air vents to make sure that nothing’s blocking circulation. Then adjust the temperature up or down one setting and allow a full 24 hours for the temperature to adjust.

One level is equal to about 1 degree of temperature, so remember: the higher the freezer temperature, the faster your frozen foods lose their quality. However, colder temperatures also could dry foods out, so try to keep the freezer at the recommended zero degrees.

Are Your Thanksgiving Leftovers Safe to Eat?

leftover Thanksgiving sandwich

Because leftovers only remain safe to eat for four days, you’re going to want to eat up all your turkey, stuffing and gravy by Monday.

(The importance of Thanksgiving leftovers as immortalized in pop culture by the Friends Moistmaker episode)

To ensure your Thanksgiving leftovers are safe to eat, you should freeze them as soon as possible. If you throw the leftovers in freezer-safe bags or containers, they will be good to eat for another six months.

Food technically remains safe to eat forever if it’s frozen. It just loses flavor and moisture over time.

Reheating Leftovers

The USDA wrote these guidelines for safely reheating stored leftovers:

  • When reheating leftovers, be sure they reach 165° F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food. Reheat sauces, soups and gravies by bringing them to a rolling boil. Cover leftovers to reheat. This retains moisture and ensures that food will heat all the way through.
  • Thaw frozen leftovers safely in the refrigerator, cold water or the microwave oven. When thawing leftovers in a microwave, continue to heat it until it reaches 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Any leftover “leftovers” thawed by the cold water method or in the microwave should be reheated to 165 °F before refreezing.
  • In a real hurry? It is safe to reheat frozen leftovers without thawing, either in a saucepan or microwave (in the case of a soup or stew) or in the oven or microwave (for example, casseroles and combination meals). Reheating will take longer than if the food is thawed first, but it is safe to do when time is short.

Make sure to occasionally stir foods when microwaving them, because foods won’t heat evenly (especially if you don’t have a turntable) and cold spots will develop in which bacteria hasn’t been properly killed.

5 Food Preservation Tips

With the opening of farmers markets and the start of many people’s CSA shares, the perennial topic of food storage becomes fresh again. Check out these 5 tips to keep your food fresh longer.

1. Use your crisper

Those clear drawers in your fridge aren’t just for convenience. Many models allow you adjust the humidity of your crisper drawers to suit their contents. Consult your use & care manual for specifics on your model, but in general, set humidity to high for green, leafy vegetables and low for fruits and vegetables with skins.

2. Pick your spot

Brands might create the perfect space for gallon-jug storage on your refrigerator door, but consider how quickly you will use highly perishable foods before storing them here. Why? Consider the temperature fluctuations of this region of the refrigerator.

If you go through a gallon of milk every couple days, then maybe it doesn’t matter. But those of use who just use a sprinkle in our coffee should definitely select a cooler spot, like the back of the fridge, which is less affected when the door opens.

Accordingly, produce like broccoli, asparagus and apples benefit from colder temperatures located near the rear. Corn and berries benefit from the warmest spot in the refrigerator, so choose those for the front.

3. Use a paper towel to keep your greens green

Greens (especially leftovers) quickly become yellows and browns.

Arrange washed greens between paper towels to absorb excess moisture and seal them in punctured plastic bags.

4. Don’t pass gas

Ethylene gas, that is. Foods like apples, peaches and pears produce ethylene, a gas that kick-starts ripening, which can cause premature aging in some fruits and damage in others. Avoid storing ethylene-producing foods near others sensitive to it, or keep them in a plastic bag to contain the gas.

5. Know what NOT to refrigerate

Sometimes the refrigerator can do more harm than good – as in the case of avocados, bananas, tomatoes, pineapples, mangoes, potatoes and squash – which should be stored at room temperature. Cold temperatures can dehydrate and damage these foods.

What are your best food preservation tips? Share them in the comments!

Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer refrigerator drawers

Don’t get me wrong. I love my full-size, bottom-freezer refrigerator. But occasionally, my freezer runs out of space while my fresh food compartment maintains plenty and my eyes wander to the grass on the other side…

Recently I’ve been thinking, why can’t my fridge be more adaptable?

I had a very educational conversation with the produce manager of a local grocery last weekend about fresh basil preservation. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to refrigerate it! (Also, those of us in cold temperatures should take special care when transporting fresh basil home, as our subzero air can turn the delicious leaves black.) It should be kept in a cool (50-some degrees) spot.

That’s why I love these multitemperature refrigerated drawers.

Now you see it.

Now you don't.

The Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer (RB36S25MKIW1) lets you choose freezer, chill, fridge, pantry or wine at the touch of a button so that everything from fresh food to frozen meat to fine wine can be stored at the correct temperature.
So, if you buy a lot of produce one week you have extra fridge space.

Refrigerator (37°F)

Or if a family member comes home with a record catch of fish and the freezer’s full, voila.

Freezer (0°F) (Deep Freezer -13 °F)

If you want to keep it a little colder than the stuff you keep in your fridge, you can do that too.

Chill (31°F)

And if you plunk down more than you’d like for fresh basil and don’t want to see any of it go to waste (or pesto), you’ll love the pantry function.

Pantry (53.5°F)

Having a party? Store your wine and then chill it to precise serving temperature.

Wine (53.5°F for long-term storage, 44.5°F for white wine serving and 59°F for red wine)

And at 36″ wide, the Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawers keep everything in easy, ergonomic reach while being deep enough to fit wine bottles and 2-liter bottles, as shown above.

The spill-proof storage bins can come out or be moved around to do just about anything you need it to.

I'm imagining a Thanksgiving turkey, thawing at the recommended 40 degrees, not crowding my refrigerator for four days.

If you want to see it, we display it at our St. Paul store, our Apple Valley store, our Woodbury store and our Edina store.

And, for being so curious, you will be rewarded with free assorted ice cream treats when you open the drawer.

How sweet is that?

What’s the Ideal Refrigerator Temperature?

Your refrigerator likely comes set at the factory-recommended temperature, probably a “mid-setting,” but what is that?

If you set the temperature too low, your food will freeze. Set it too high, however, and your food will spoil quicker due to increased bacterial growth.

The recommended temperature for your refrigerator ranges from 35 degrees to 38 degrees.

Testing Refrigerator Temperature

But the best test for your refrigerator’s temperature is a beverage. If you don’t like the temperature of your beverage, adjust the fridge. If you think your refrigerator is too cold, increase the temperature by 1 degree and allow 24 hours for the compartment to adjust. Obviously, do the opposite if you think your refrigerator is too warm.

To ensure proper temperatures, air has to be able to flow between the refrigerator and freezer sections.

As shown in the super sweet illustration, cool air from the refrigerator enters through the bottom of the freezer section and moves upward. Most of the air then flows through the freezer section vents and recirculates under the freezer floor. The rest of the air enters the refrigerator section through the top vent and flows down the back of the refrigerator compartment.

Make sure the air vents aren’t blocked by some errant food thing. Otherwise, it might block the flow of air to the refrigerator, which in turn causes temperature and moisture problems and melty ice cream, etc.

Also (word to the wise), if your refrigerator can’t exhaust properly, it can’t cool properly. So, vacuum the condenser every three months!

What’s your ideal refrigerator temperature? Let us know in the comments.