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How long do you keep food in your fridge?

Sometimes things go into my fridge and then get lost. I had a container of pork and veg dumplings I picked up at the local Asian market. They were cooked and then packaged. Usually when I buy them I either steam them or if I am really lazy I just wrap them in a damp paper towel and then cook them in the microwave. I found this package in the back of my fridge and realized that I bought them over a week ago. I guess I'm throwing them out. How long do you keep that type of food -- or leftovers?

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  1. The back and bottom sections are the coldest in your fridge (left rear lower is THE coldest, I have read - don't know why left. Unless all fridges are plumbed the same, I would think that the side the door hinge is on would make a difference). Asian food contains a lot of salt, which retards spoilage. If the food smells okay I would use it NOW. I often keep leftovers for a week or more.

    1. I don't store many leftovers but I'll nearly anything that passes the smell test.

      1. It depends on the food. If it's raw meat or poultry I keep it just a few days. Cooked I've kept longer, but no more than a week.

        Fresh veggies in the bin I try to use up within a week because they wilt or dry up, with the exception of celery and carrots,which keep well until I have a chance to use them up.

          1. My own leftovers that only I have handled and packaged will easily keep for a week. Restaurant leftovers don't seem to keep that long for me. But then, I usually don't repackage them into an airtight container. That may be the main difference.

            1. I think it really depends on the fridge.

              When I redid my kitchen I got the top of the line KitchenAid. We were always having milk spoil and food turn. Before long we were having to make expensive repairs. After the second major part replacement for a 5 yo fridge, I gave in and replaced it with a SubZero. No more bad milk and there are leftovers that are still fit to eat after a week.

              1. "How long do you keep food in your fridge?"

                Much much longer than I will admit in public. Weeks, if the stars are aligned and things are going well but this is the norm for a Sub-Zero. It is a stand-alone fridge, the freezer is a separate unit, and it is a miracle at keeping food. I have had the same bacon in there for over three weeks and no sign of anything amiss; fresh spinach in the veg drawer is working on its second week, some carrots have been there for over a month, even cilantro holds for a couple of weeks. The fresh tomato-butter sauce (Marcella Hazan's recipe) is two weeks old and in perfect shape. I made a pot of beans three weeks ago and had some for lunch today -- deelish!
                I should note that I keep my fridge at 37 degrees F; freezer at -5 degrees F. I'm certain this makes a difference in the longevity.
                RE: greygarious' point about where the coldest spot is -- I think it depends on the unit. Many fridges have the freezer cooling the fridge and most of that cold air vents through the back/bottom of the unit. As I said "many", not all. Mine is very different, with its own condenser unit etc and is completely self-contained.

                I am unable to answer your query about packaged food since I rarely buy it.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Sherri

                  Wow, I need that fridge although I don't have it I also fall into the probably longer than most category. I have a pretty high threshold for tossing something.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    I didn't buy SubZero the first time out and I could kick myself because I made a $10K mistake on the KA and ended up getting the SZ any way. I didn't think there would be a difference. I was wrong.

                2. When we were kids we ate anything that did not have mold on it, no matter how long it was in the fridge. These days I only keep things for a week or so. Depends on the item.

                  1. The key is average holding temp. Leaving the high end Sub Zero fridges with continuous duty compressors out of the formula, I think a lot depends on how often the door is opened. Each time the door is opened, the cold air drops out and the interior temp can quickly reach the mid 40's to upper 50's and since the compressors in most residential fridges can only cycle for so many minutes per hour, it can take a long time to bring the temps down to 34 - 38 degrees. This can be problematic.

                    If you have kids who frequently open the door and gaze at whats in the fridge for extended periods and let the cold air drop out, shelf life will be reduced. If not, shelf life will be increased.

                    I have a G/E energy star fridge in the basement. Door gets opened 3 or 4 time a week. Holds 34 -38 degrees like clockwork. Long term holding goes in there and depending on the product, 2 weeks is the norm.

                    As one poster said, the nose is a good tester. If you smell something and you pull your nose away from it instinctively, best to toss it.

                    1. Generally about a week, although I find I'm not too interested in eating something after 5 days. Like, I usually won't eat something on a Saturday that I prepared the previous Monday.

                      1. As a general rule, 3 days for cooked food, 3 days for raw meat, a week for raw veggies.

                        I'm sure cooked food lasts longer, especially since our fridge runs cold but realistically, it's going to be eaten within 3 days or it's probably not going to be eaten at all. No sense it letting it occupy valuable real estate. I don't cook more than we will eat in that time frame.

                        The only time raw meat is really in there 3 days is when I'm making Zuni chicken.

                        Chicken stock is always brought back up to a boil at day 3. What won't be used within a day or 2 of that is sent to the freezer.