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Old 11-20-2014, 09:18 AM   #1
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Ideal temperatures

What is the ideal temperature for a refrigerator? I have an odd kitchen area (comes from having a house built in 1864) with an under-stair area that holds a fridge on one side and a pantry closet on the other. Part of the pantry closet is actually underground (we're built into a hillside) and I've always joked that it is a root cellar in the winter. My olive and peanut oils stored there actually partially solidify in the winter. For curiousity's sake, I stuck a thermometer in one, then the other. 39 in the fridge, 38 in the pantry.

Got me to thinking, 39 is probably too warm for a fridge? I turned it down a little bit, but don't want to go low enough that my lettuce freezes, and sometimes that's a thin line.

What is the ideal temperature?


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Old 11-20-2014, 09:43 AM   #2
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In broad terms, under 40F. I aim for 34F-38F. In the photo, the purple part of the dial.
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Old 11-20-2014, 10:13 AM   #3
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I agree with Andy.

Under 40 and above 32. But I think 39 is a bit too warm, especially since opening the door pushes the temp up.

I shoot for 35
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Old 11-20-2014, 10:34 AM   #4
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The "ideal" temperature isn't necessarily the ideal setting. The general recommendation is below 40F. 35F is often cited as ideal, because that's comfortably close to freezing. But you have to check the temperature at different part of you particularly refrigerator. You want to do this during a period when it's not being opened so much, and you want to open it briefly to move the thermometer.

Mine is set on 39F, but it will freeze in some areas. It is obviously a good design point to have the temperature pretty well the same throughout the main compartment, but that doesn't always happen, and an engineer has to guess what you are going to store and where you will store it. Most designs blow cold air up from the freezer, and stuff packed around the discharge can trap cold air and freeze the goods.

You've turned it down. So be watchful for freezing in places like near the discharge and at the back of the lower drawers. And bimetalic refrigerator thermometers are really not precision devices.

Remember, too, that most things that are stored have enough mass that they don't immediately warm up internally if the door stand open a few minutes. Plus, lower temperatures merely retard bacteria growth. They don't stop it, and your goal is to mostly to avoid distasteful spoilage, and even food that's suffered from too long storage but can still be choked down won't harm you. There's no magic temperature, short of freezing down to 0F. There's no need to strive to bring the temperature down to near freezing.

Like so many other food things, including "safe" temperatures to cook to, recommendations are always far more conservative for legal reasons than for practical ones.
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