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The Best Refrigerator and Freezer Temperatures to Keep Food Fresh

Refrigerator and Freezer temperature display with fridge temp highlighted

When your leftovers seem to go bad after a day, or ice cream is only good the first time you open the carton, it's a good indication that the refrigerator and freezer temperature needs to be adjusted. Keep food fresh longer by making sure you have the right temp settings applied. This will make sure your late night ice cream craving is met with maximum flavor and texture. No more freezer burnt, rock-solid blocks of mint chocolate chip.

Recommended Temperatures for the Refrigerator and Freezer

The USDA Food Safety Information guide states that refrigerated food should be kept below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and frozen food below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The only reason to set temperatures higher is to save energy when you're not storing food in the refrigerator.

On most models, the ideal temperature setting for the refrigerator is 38 degrees Fahrenheit. For the freezer, the ideal temperature is -2 degrees Fahrenheit. Some models may have different recommendations in their user manual or on the control panel. As long as the fridge is under 40 and the freezer is at 0 or less, you will keep food fresh.

Some models display the temperature using bars. On these models, three lit bars is the recommended setting for both compartments.

Adjust the Refrigerator and Freezer Temperatures

On Family Hub fridges, the temperature can be adjusted using the Fridge Manager app. On other models with a touch screen, change the temperature in the menu.

To adjust the temperature on a model without a touch screen, touch Fridge or Freezer repeatedly until you reach the desired setting. On most models, this will adjust the temperature down one degree (or temperature bar) each time; after it reaches the lowest setting it will cycle around to the highest.

A few seconds after setting the temperature, the displayed temperature will return to the current interior temperature. The refrigerator will achieve the new setting in 2 hours or less if the doors are left closed.

Ice Cream is Too Soft or Hard

The freezing point of ice cream varies based on fat and sugar content. If you want harder ice cream, adjust the freezer to a cooler temperature. Likewise, if you want it a little softer, don't go below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are 2 simple tricks you can use to keep your ice cream fresh and creamy. First, do not store ice cream near the door where warm air will hit it every time you open the freezer. When ice cream melts and refreezes, it loses its creamy texture and does not taste as good. And second, put plastic wrap over the opening of the container before putting on the lid. This seals the container and prevents freezer burn.


Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

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