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Old 01-17-2008, 01:53 PM   #1
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Food storage temps

What is the usual, safe temp of a refrigerator? At what temp do peanut and olive oil coagulate? I have a pantry closet -- very shallow and half sub-terranian (I live on a hillside and the back of the house is actually chest high under ground on one side). I can't keep olive or peanut oil in that cupboard because it turns semi-solid in the winter. I bought a refrigerator thermometer and it doesn't register any lower than the kitchen itself, although the oils become liquid when I place them on the counter. I suspect the thermometer may be faulty (it was an el cheapo Wal-Mart purchase). On the other hand I had some beef spoil prematurely this week (in the fridge). Needless to say, I'm going to purchase a new thermometer as soon as I can get to some store besides Wal-Mart (the only game in town). I've never had this problem before in my life, but obviously my pantry is too cold (not a real problem and nothing I can solve anyway, just store the oils in a different cupboard) and maybe my fridge is to warm. OK, you food science guys, let me know before I get to a store to buy a better quality thermometer.

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Old 01-17-2008, 02:17 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claire
What is the usual, safe temp of a refrigerator?
Below 40F (5C) - I keep mine around 36

Quote:
Originally Posted by Claire
At what temp do peanut and olive oil coagulate?
I don't know for sure - but I'm betting your cabinet is a lot colder than your kitchen counter, from the way you describe it!
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Old 01-17-2008, 02:52 PM   #3
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What is the usual, safe temp of a refrigerator? At what temp do peanut and olive oil coagulate? I have a pantry closet -- very shallow and half sub-terranian (I live on a hillside and the back of the house is actually chest high under ground on one side). I can't keep olive or peanut oil in that cupboard because it turns semi-solid in the winter. I bought a refrigerator thermometer and it doesn't register any lower than the kitchen itself, although the oils become liquid when I place them on the counter. I suspect the thermometer may be faulty (it was an el cheapo Wal-Mart purchase). On the other hand I had some beef spoil prematurely this week (in the fridge). Needless to say, I'm going to purchase a new thermometer as soon as I can get to some store besides Wal-Mart (the only game in town). I've never had this problem before in my life, but obviously my pantry is too cold (not a real problem and nothing I can solve anyway, just store the oils in a different cupboard) and maybe my fridge is to warm. OK, you food science guys, let me know before I get to a store to buy a better quality thermometer.
Yes. Below 40. If you can't keep 40 with little activity (opening and closing the door frequently would be a lot of activity, for example) then you have a problem. Probably either the fan motor in the freezer, or the compressor. If you get real lucky it may just be a leak of coolant that can be replaced. Fan motor, $200 and up. Compressor, you don't want to know
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Old 01-17-2008, 03:09 PM   #4
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If your pantry is that cold, I'd look in to having that side of my house insulated. Your heating bill must be etrocious!
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Old 01-17-2008, 04:31 PM   #5
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Fridge should keep a constant temp of between 34-38 degrees.

If you have a instant read or other food thermometer that registers low temps, you can use that. Put a glass of water in the fridge, let it sit for 4 hours and then take the temp of the water. I'd set the glass on one of the upper shelves to make sure the warmer part of the fridge is at least 40 or less.

Olive oil will start to solidify at around 50 degrees and will completely solidify at around 32.
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Old 01-17-2008, 07:09 PM   #6
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32 degrees us freezing, the higher you go over 40 degrees the faster bugs in food grow.

So, as jenny said, 34-38 is about the only choice you have.

Forget the Walmart thermometer, you have already proven it is faulty - kitchen is warmer than fridge but the thermometer doesn't budge. The beef may have gone off for many reasons, not just the fridge temp.

If it seems your fridge is working OK would not panic. Would get another thermometer - you can get them on the web fairly cheaply if you are too far away to get one easily.

Just my take on things.

Good luck.
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Old 01-17-2008, 10:06 PM   #7
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sounds like all bases are covered.

as far as oils, they don't need to be refrigerated really.

sound like you might wanna call a repair person though.
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Old 01-18-2008, 05:17 AM   #8
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I think I just need to adjust the temp on the fridge, not that it is a problem. Also stored the beef too close to the door (usually if I don't freeze meat I put it along the back wall of the fridge so it doesn't get affected by open & closing). The pantry closet is actually built into the wall, so it doesn't have the insulation the rest of the house has. That is no problem either, I just moved the oils that coagulate out of it for the winter. It has been weird here in that winter started way too early. The thermometer will go in the trash and be replaced by a good one the first time I go to Dubuque. Usually this time of year I'm actually adjusting the fridge up (down in the summer) because of freezing lettuce. Right at the moment (4 a.m.) I am running water because it is in the single digits out there.

Maybe I should put the beef outside on the picnic table and the lettuce in the pantry cottage. Wink wink.
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Old 01-18-2008, 08:38 AM   #9
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[quote=Claire;535844]I think I just need to adjust the temp on the fridge, not that it is a problem. Also stored the beef too close to the door (usually if I don't freeze meat I put it along the back wall of the fridge so it doesn't get affected by open & closing). quote]

Claire:

A properly functioning refrigerator will maintain 40 degrees or less in ALL parts of the cabinet. If it doesn't, there IS something wrong. Nor will food be affected by normal opening and closing as it takes more than a few seconds to raise the temp of the food itself and the refrigerator will recover very quickly when closed.

I suggest you place a thermometer alternately in the front upper and lower part of the refrigerator and leave it for an hour in each location. If all temperatures are not at 40 or below, and assuming you are at somewhere in the middle of the temp setting on your box, then you do indeed have an improperly functioning refrigerator.
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:34 PM   #10
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Hi Claire,
Peanut and olive oil do not coagulate - only proteins do that. All that is happening is that the oil is solidifying on cold storage. Removing the oil to a warm kitchen will result in it becoming liquid again!
Regards,
Archiduc
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