How to Contain Strong Smells in the Fridge

Keeping foods with strong flavours and smells from tainting other food in the fridge

If you’ve ever left a cling-wrapped half onion on top of a pound of butter in your fridge, or a wrapped bowl of diced onions near a jug of milk overnight, you know what can happen. If the flavour is strong enough, it can potentially contaminate other ingredients in your fridge. All it takes is one morning bowl of cereal served with onion-tainted milk to drive home the point that smells and flavours can intermingle between foods in the fridge.

Onions and garlic are often the culprits, as they have a very strong smell and taste that is as hard to contain as it is noticeable in foods that have been contaminated. If you have to store onion in the fridge – either a leftover half onion or chopped pieces of onion pre-prepared to save time later when cooking an evening meal – thin plastic isn’t enough to keep the flavour from transferring to other things. Consider storing pungent foods in a glass bowl with a sturdy lid, or a thick-walled food storage container. You should also keep strongly flavoured foods from touching anything else in the fridge, even if they’re stored in plastic. Keep anything that absorbs other flavours easily – butter, milk and eggs, especially, but also breads, cakes, etc. – away from strongly flavoured foods. Also keep any meat in a strong marinade well sealed, especially if garlic is involved.

To keep some fridge odours at bay, baking soda works like a charm. But that doesn’t mean you can just crack open a box of baking soda and leave it at the back of the fridge for half a decade. Look for specially designed packages that are made for deodorizing fridges and freezers, and make sure you swap out old for new packs based on manufacturer directions.