Fridges with glass shelves… Why?

These, after glass pan lids, must be the dumbest invention ever. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to drop something in the kitchen, it’s more likely to be a pan lid (or a knife!), than anything else.

And now I’m on my second American-style, giant, fridge-freezer with glass shelves. OK, they’re safety glass, but that safety would be greatly enhanced by knowing how much weight they can hold without breaking.

After all, preserves, conserves, pickles of all kinds – things previous generations kept in larders, or just on kitchen shelves, at the ambient temperature – now have to be refrigerated as soon as you open them. There’s a fair bit of weight in, say, a jar of olives in brine.

And, in mine, there’s usually a casserole, or a pot of soup, both of which are heavy (though they get lighter as they’re used), and frankly, the glass shelves in my current fridge-freezer are worrying thin and flex visibly under their weight. So I’ve been looking at ways to reinforce them – to spread the load over a wider area while not adding appreciably to the weight – and came up with rigid table mats.

So I was poking around Amazon, amazed at how much the buggers cost, when I had a flash of inspiration – sushi mats. Made of very thin bamboo, they’re pretty rigid laterally, and extremely light, while being designed to roll up longitudinally. Not as good as table mats but, importantly, I just happen to have half a dozen, and they are the perfect size – two of them completely cover each shelf with no overlap – and they’re slatted, so won’t completely shut off the internal illumination. I’ve put one in, and sat a heavy casserole on it – works perfectly and spreads the weight over an area about 30% larger than previously.

Table mats would be better, but until I can find some at the right size, and a sensible price, sushi mats will do. Amazon have them in various sizes (though not mine, at 43cm x 30cm, apparently).

Do bear in mind, though, that spreading the weight still leaves the end of each shelf, where it slots into the fridge, unchanged – I don’t have a solution for that, so no matter whether you use sushi or table mats, just don’t get carried away and overload the shelf! My idea is to give you an added margin of safety at normal load levels, not carte blanche to load it with a shovel.