Fight against food waste starts in the home kitchen and a good food storage is strategic to make it last longer. In order to preserve freshness of food over time, refrigerators of the the latest generation and vacuum-packing appliances provide advanced technologies.
by Elena Corti
Kitchen is one of the areas in the house where you risk wasting more. In particular, data about food waste highlight the need of a better management of shopping and more effective food preservation: as reported by FAO, 1.3 billion tons of food are thrown away every year (or about 1/3 of all foods produced in the world for human consumption), with important ethical and environmental consequences. As for the EU alone, data released by the European Parliament indicate that 88 million tons of food are wasted every year, with 173 kg of food waste accumulated annually per person. And 53% of this waste takes place right at home. Food preservation is therefore a topical issue and the adoption of more saving and sustainable behaviors can only pass from everyday gestures. Today, the most advanced appliances contribute to the fight against food waste, supporting consumers in assuming more responsible lifestyles. Technology, innovation and conservation techniques, derived from the professional world, can prolong the freshness of food, making it last longer and avoiding having to throw it away because it quickly spoiled. Brands in the home appliances sector have developed various solutions to make advanced anti-waste tools available to domestic users, which meet the needs of people who are increasingly inclined to eat meals in their own homes and who have rediscovered the pleasure of cooking. The most recent trends for the “new normal” show that kitchen is once again the heart of the home and that more and more people love to experiment with new dishes and recipes. In addition, eating habits are turning towards healthier lifestyles, which prefer fresh and quality food. In this context, it is therefore essential to have tools available to best preserve, avoiding as much as possible the waste of food resources.
High-tech refrigerators for extending food freshness
The world of refrigerators has made great strides in finding effective technologies to create the most suitable storage conditions for different types of food, so that food can keep its organoleptic characteristics intact until the moment of being consumed. And there is not just one way to best preserve all types of food, but diversified solutions to prolong its freshness. Several models of refrigerators are equipped with drawers to stow the most delicate foods (such as fruit and vegetables, dairy products, cold cuts, meat or fish), ensuring the ideal temperature and humidity to extend their life. Among the most recent innovations is Miele’s PerfectFresh Active system, present in the KFN 7795 D fridge-freezer and characterized by a drawer equipped with an active humidifier that prolongs life of fruit and vegetables thanks to ultrasonic nebulization. In practice, every 90 minutes, and every time the door is opened, nebulized water is sprayed into the drawer: food is thus gently wetted and the humidity in the air maintains the best conditions, regardless of the load. The system is simple: just fill a small water tank and the appliance does the rest. Also Grundig offers some interesting innovations on the refrigeration front. In Himalaya 75 refrigerators, technology VitaminZone allows to preserve the vitamin contents of fruit and vegetables. This solution consists of a special alternation of light stimuli that simulate the natural 24-hour solar cycle inside the fruit and vegetable drawer: the colored lights that follow each other (4 hours blue light, 2 hours green light, 6 hours red light and 12 hours dark) allow vitamins (A and C) and nutrients to be preserved in greater quantities and longer. Furthermore, in these refrigerators the FullFresh+ technology guarantees a constant temperature and a high level of humidity in the fruit and vegetable drawer: this is possible thanks to the micro-holes that have been specifically designed and applied to the structure of the drawer which, by controlling the flow of air, minimize condensation and promote air circulation. In this way, fruit and vegetables do not lose their natural moisture and remain fresh and juicy for a long time.
Another example of how you can keep fruits and vegetables fresh over time and preserve the nutritional content of food is the Humidity Zone drawer with HCS technology on Haier’s new 3D 70 refrigerator of Series 7. This solution is characterised by a plant fiber membrane which maintains humidity levels in the compartment up to 90%. In addition, the appliance also features the MyZone drawer which offers the possibility of adjusting the internal temperature according to the food inserted, adapting to the conservation needs of the moment. And thanks to connectivity with Haier’s hOn app and Artificial Intelligence, the Visual MyZone option allows you to automatically set the ideal temperature for specific food placed in the drawer using the smartphone.
Another interesting solution is the Food Care System of the new range of Hotpoint Total No Frost combined refrigerators, which includes a combination of technologies to optimally store fresh foods in a healthy environment. In particular, the Active Oxygen technology is characterized by a device that releases active oxygen molecules into the refrigerator capable of reducing the presence of viruses and bacteria by up to 99%: in this way, food remains fresh for a longer time and the formation of unpleasant odors is reduced. In addition, the Active Fresh technology detects the variations of temperature inside the appliance and quickly activate the Active Inverter Compressor for restoring the optimal conditions. To these technologies is added the Ultra FreshZone+ drawer, which is equipped with a humidity selector that allows to choose between three different options to select the optimal level of humidity each time depending on the food inserted (whether it is fruit, vegetables or both). Finally, the Multi Fresh Zone drawer allows to have a customizable compartment: it can in fact be used for fish and meat, dairy products or for fruit and vegetables.
Space optimization for a smarter storage
Optimizing the internal space of refrigerator is not only a matter of convenience to stow food more practically but it is also a way to give each food the best storage conditions, placing it in the right place. In addition to drawers, the appliance brands have studied specific solutions to satisfy the different storage needs: among the latest innovations, there are folding shelves (which can be folded in half or completely folded back on themselves), the shelves with swivel base, extendable shelves and equipped inner door. The AEG RCB736D5MB fridge-freezer, for example, is equipped with the CustomFlex system that allows you to customize the inner door by arranging shopping in an optimal way according to what needs to be stored: the wall has containers of different shapes and sizes, which can be hooked and moved according to the user’s preferences. Finally, there are also models of refrigerators designed to even accommodate a baking tray.
Cooling becomes “tailor-made”
Flexibility is a theme on which companies producing refrigerators have focused to offer consumers solutions capable of adapting spaces to changing storage needs. Samsung Bespoke products, for example, are designed with modularity in mind. They provide different types of refrigerators that can be combined to provide multiple possibilities. For example, those who need to keep lots of fresh foods can choose to combine a classic combined fridge with a single-door refrigerator. If something changes and consumer needs more space to freeze, just add a new single door freezer module.
Another proposal is that of Bertazzoni which recently presented its new premium built-in cold system. It includes refrigerator, freezer and wine columns that can be combined in multiple configurations to create a complete cooling system. Among the pluses offered by Bertazzoni, there are fully removable aluminum and glass drawers of the refrigerator column which are treated with crystalline powder to eliminate any porosity, obtaining an antibacterial solution that ensures safe food storage, as well as a long life of the appliance.
The advantages of vacuum packing
Right against food waste in the domestic contest can now also count on the vacuum packing technique. The availability of appliances among both small household appliances (vacuum packaging machines) and built-in products (drawers that can be combined with other built-in appliances) has made available to end users a method of food preservation until recently mainly used by catering professionals. The home appliances brands have developed easy-to-use solutions that allow food to last longer, preserving flavor and nutrients and easily adopting more sustainable and responsible behaviors. Vacuum packing offers multiple opportunities: for example, fresh food (such as meat, fish, vegetables or cheeses) can be stored in the refrigerator for a longer time. Furthermore, it is possible to buy cured meats in pieces, slice them and then put them in the appropriate bags: in this way not only their deterioration will be delayed, but it will also be possible to obtain an economic saving compared to the purchase of a small quantity of cold cuts. It is also possible to use the vacuum to better preserve bread or dry foods (such as biscuits): these foods are very influenced by humidity and consequently lose friability, but with the vacuum they preserve their characteristics for a long time. Vacuum-packed foods can also be frozen and this technique protects them from cold burns and avoids the transfer of flavors and smells. Further anti-waste solutions are then the use of vacuum packing machines to close packages that have already been opened (for example a packet of potato chips) or the use of these products to portion the already cooked food so that it can be consumed even after some time without losing flavor, freshness and quality.
On a technical level, machines and drawers for vacuum packing extract the air contained within them from the special bags and containers, slowing down the deterioration of food caused by bacteria that proliferate in the air. Depending on the needs, it is possible to have different vacuum levels (for example for short or long term storage) and different welding levels. In addition, you can vacuum both solid and liquid food and prepare food for sous-vide cooking. Moreover, by including aromas in the bags, it is possible to marinate, obtaining a particularly intense taste because, thanks to the vacuum-packing technique, herbs and spices flavor the ingredients very effectively. The use of these appliances is not complex: both small appliances and built-in solutions generally have intuitive touch controls that allow user to use the product in safety and comfort. Also, an added benefit of these appliances is that they don’t take up too much space in the kitchen. Drawers are generally conceived to integrate perfectly with other built-in appliances, while the vacuum packing machines have a compact and space-saving design. Among the most original solutions, R.G.V. offers, for example, a vacuum machine equipped with a magnet: it is small, portable and can be attached to the refrigerator (or to other ferritic surfaces) saving space.