If you are headed back to college–either in a dorm or in an apartment–you may be finding yourself sharing some valuable space with others: Your Refrigerator. You may not really have had to put much thought into keeping a fridge cleaned and organized (thank you, Mom and Dad), but now that you are in your own space you will want to pay special attention to this appliance.
Your head is probably already spinning with all the great treats you will soon be packing into your fridge, but before you stuff your shelves full of candy and jerky (yum), consider adding these 4 things to your shopping list.
Box of Baking Soda
An open box of baking soda in your refrigerator (and freezer!) will help eliminate odors. Although you should replace the box every three months, you may find you need to replace it more often if it is absorbing too many odors. We also suggest sprinkling a little baking soda at the bottom of a small refrigerator (or at the bottom of drawers in a larger unit)—covering with a folded paper towel—to help eliminate odors in those spaces as well.
This is an easy DIY solution that will make it easy to keep your refrigerator clean. Simply purchase a plastic placemat and cut to fit fridge shelves. When you have a spill (or someone else has a spill and doesn’t clean it up), you can simply pull out the mat and wash it in the sink.
Lazy Susan or “Turntables”
Often reserved for the kitchen table or countertop, a lazy Susan in the fridge is a great way to store bottles and jars of condiments—you know, those things everyone needs to use, but no one can ever seem to find. We like the non-skid versions from Bed, Bath & Beyond because they come in various sizes, perfect for any kind of fridge in a dorm or apartment.
Masking Tape & Sharpie
For those roommates who love to keep leftovers in the fridge, make it easy for them to label their food. Store a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie in the side of the door (fits great in the sections reserved for butter and cheese) and encourage your housemates to not only put their name on the food, but the date. That way, when it is time for a fridge “clean out”, you will easily know what can be thrown away.
Talk to us: What is the one thing a student should always have in his or her refrigerator?
image courtesy of flickr CC/Jim Thompson
Drying Herbs, Freezing Herbs & Preserving Herbs in Butter
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but summer will soon be coming to an end. There are so many things about summer we are going to miss, especially those fresh herbs we’ve been using for all of our summer meals. Why should summer foods get all the fresh herbs fun? Using these 3 simple tips will let you keep that fresh herbs goodness well into the winter months.
Experts agree this is pretty much the best option, especially for “leafy” herbs like parsley and basil. There are two ways to freeze your herbs: 1) Chop the herbs, put them into an ice cube tray and fill with water or 2) Using a little olive oil, blend herbs into a paste and fill the ice cube tray. Once frozen, put the cubes into an airtight container for up to 3 months (think of how good that fresh pesto will taste come December!).
Drying is best for herbs like thyme and oregano. Shake the herbs to discard dirt & dead leaves, tie stems together with twine and hang upside down in a warm, dry place (away from sunlight). Once the leaves begin to crumble (usually in 2-4 weeks), store them in an airtight container for up to one year. If you’re in a hurry, once you have given them a good shake, spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place in a 150 degree (F) oven, leaving the door slightly ajar. Check frequently until herbs are crumbly.
Create Flavored Butter
Mince herbs, mashing 1 part herbs into 2 parts of softened butter, shape into a log and freeze. Use to melt over vegetables or saute in recipes. The frozen butter will keep for 6-9 months. You can also turn your herbs into flavored vinegar or oil–click here for instructions. Not only will these flavored creations be good for cooking at home, they also make great last minute gifts (yes, the holidays are coming!).
Talk to us: How do you store your fresh herbs?
image courtesy of flickr CC/Jennifer C. Sources: thekitchn.com and rodalesorganiclife.com