The refrigerator is a convenient place to stash our food and groceries, because we believe that everything we put in it will stay fresh and last longer. However, the truth is, quite a few fruits and vegetables are better off without refrigeration along with other foods.
Why does food spoil, though? There are two kinds of problem causing bacteria:
- the ones that cause food-borne diseases with no noticeable difference in how the food looks, so you really don’t know whether it is safe to consume or not
- the ones that transform the appearance, smell and taste of foods without actually being dangerous
Great! So how do we figure out which is which and stay safe? Here is a list of foods with the low down on what happens when you refrigerate them. The bottom line: do NOT store them in your fridge.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes
Better off in a rack in a paper bag in a corner at room temperature. If you refrigerate them, the starches turn to sugar making them smell strange.
Honey and real maple syrup
Honey crystallizes in the fridge. Store at room temperature away from direct sunlight.
I always stored tomatoes in the fridge and wondered why they didn’t really stay fresh. Truth is, they lose their flavor and become mushy. They stay just fine on the kitchen counter!
Same as tomatoes. They lose flavor and the skin wrinkles in the fridge. Keep them on the counter, and if you enjoy a crisp apple, put them in the fridge half an hour before you want to eat them.
Same as potatoes in a paper bag in a cool dark corner. In the fridge, they tend to soften and stink up everything around them. And who loves onion-flavored pastry or milk?
Perfect on the shelf in your kitchen away from sunlight
I’ve seen a lot of people store their bread in the fridge and I’ve tried it, but found that it dries the bread faster. Bread is fine in a bread box in your kitchen cupboard. Just consume by its “best before” date.
They are quite happy on the counter. In some types of weather the skin turns dark before you can eat them, so put them in the freezer to use up in banana bread.
Almost all oils are fine at room temperature. Some oils such as safflower or sunflower with lower saturated-fat content must be stored in a cool dark place.
These go on the counter but leftovers must go into the fridge and be consumed as soon as possible. Preferably, use the whole avocado.
Put them in a paper bag – green yellow, red – and in a cool shelf.
Includes all squash – room temperature is best.
Place your lemons, limes and oranges on your kitchen counter, with some space around each rather than pile them up to avoid mold.
Keep on your kitchen counter and finish them off as soon as you can after you bring them home. They have a short shelf life anyway.
Best out of the fridge, but store left over cut melon in the fridge and use as soon as you can.
Ketchup keeps well even after opening on your kitchen shelf thanks to the preservatives and vinegar used in making it.
Same as ketchup, preservatives keep jams and jellies fine outside the fridge even after you open them.
Keep on the counter until ripe and enjoy.
The salt and preservatives in pickles keeps them fine outside the fridge.
Store in a paper bag in your kitchen to keep it flavorful.
Hot sauce, Soy sauce
Its place is in your pantry. With its preservatives and spice, it stays fine even after opening.
Ground spices do not need the refrigerator.
Room temperature is best as its natural oils stay fresh that way. Don’t stock up on coffee, though. Buy small quantities. Fresh is best.
Vinegar or oil based salad dressings stay fine at room temperature. Store cream/yogurt/mayo based salad dressings in the fridge as they putrefy.
Nuts and dried fruits
Store in an airtight container in a cool dark place.
No need to keep in the fridge.
These often get stuffed in a plastic bag in the veg tray in the fridge and forgotten until they are no longer usable. They stay fine in a water filled glass, adding to the decor of your kitchen, to be used when you cook.