The refrigerator. A place of joy, refuge and comfort. In some kitchens, it is also the venue for various discussions, such as:
— “But that was my chocolate pudding!”,
— “Please take your animal carcasses out of there!” or,
— “Who does this half-decomposed head of lettuce actually belong to?”
What is also discussed: Which foods belong in the refrigerator at all? Because by no means everything we put in there actually benefits from the low temperatures.
For fear of waste, we often prefer to put as much food as possible in the refrigerator, in the hope of keeping it as long as possible. We tend to think that putting food in the fridge will keep it fresh and preserve it longer.
While this is true for many foods, it’s not for others, some of these products don’t really belong there: some can lose flavor, texture or nutrition.
Here’s a list of 20 foods that don’t keep in the fridge, and the why’s.
This list may help you at home in keeping your products longer, and in a better, healthier way.
Do not hesitate to talk about it around you, it is sure that it will be useful to many people. Sometimes, the received ideas about storing are inaccurate and it is good to have the explanations.
When placed in the refrigerator, apples become very floury and lose their crunchiness.
But won’t they last longer? Yes, they will, but just avoid the fridge if you want to keep their flavor and texture.
Apricots are much better when stored at room temperature. They retain their full flavor and texture. This is also true also for: peaches, plums, mangoes, kiwis and nectarines.
Anyone who has ever hastily nibbled from a plum tree knows: fruit somehow tastes better when ripe.
To allow the fruit to ripen in peace, you should store it outside the refrigerator.
The ripening is caused by enzymes, and they don’t work that well at low temperatures.
Yes, the stone fruits in the fridge will have the same fate as tomatoes.
So it’s best to leave them in a fruit basket in the open air.
Avocados are even more radical: if you leave them in the refrigerator, they will harden and turn black, until they are inedible! So don’t make that mistake, especially if you’re planning a good salad for the evening…
Once you’ve discovered avocados, you’ll never want to live without them again. Avocados are delicious — when they are ripe.
If it’s not ripe and you put it in the fridge, chances are it will become hard as a rock. Even if you don’t let them in enough time for that, the cold temperatures will interrupt the ripening process anyway — and your guacamole will be chunky, not creamy.
So, for optimal flavor, store avocados outside of the refrigerator.
Where do we know basil from? Correct: from Italian cuisine. And what is the weather like in Italy? Correct: warm. At least warmer than in the fridge.
Basil is extremely fragile and the cold of the refrigerator does not suit it. Once in the refrigerator, it may wilt, but above all it will absorb all the odors!
If you want to keep some at hand, chop it and put it in an airtight box in the freezer.
What’s the best way to store basil? Like flowers: in a glass of water and at room temperature (change the water every 24 hours).
Bread is not recommended to put in the refrigerator. The texture of the crumb will be altered and will become very dry.
If you want to keep some for a long time, just freeze it.
Carrots will have a similar fate to cucumbers: They get limp and watered down faster in the refrigerator. Store them outside, but protect them from the sun.
When the weather is hot and the chocolate is melting, we are often tempted to put the chocolate in the fridge. But chocolate lovers will tell you that this is heresy!
Chocolate does not like to be kept in the fridge. Indeed, a white film is likely to appear, it is the fat that freezes; but it will also lose its its flavor and texture, and will absorb all the smells of the refrigerator.
There is some debate about the preservation of coffee. In reality, coffee does not like hot or cold, humidity or light. In the refrigerator, coffee risks losing its taste and even absorbing the odors of other foods if it is not hermetically sealed.
The best way to store coffee? In an airtight container, at room temperature, away from light.
Cucumbers are sensitive, they are not suitable for the refrigerator. Cucumbers will get wrinkly skin and water spots; they will also wilt more quickly, spoil much faster and their texture will be damaged. Goodbye crunchy cucumbers and hello softness…
It may but above all it may lose some of its taste.
They feel most comfortable at room temperature, in a dry place.
Eggplant is tropical in origin, so it does not agree well with cold. They taste best when you eat them as fresh as possible. The refrigerator is not the right place for eggplants. The cold, humid climate causes them to quickly become flabby and rubbery.
Better store them outside the refrigerator and use them up as quickly as possible.They keep best when stored in a cool, but not too cold, place. On the countertop, eggplant should keep for about 3 days.
A cool basement room would be ideal. Be sure to store eggplants separately from other fruits and vegetables. Do not store them next to apples, bananas or tomatoes, as these emit a lot of ethylene — a ripening gas — which causes the eggplants to age and spoil more quickly.
We all think it is natural to put eggs in the refrigerator for fear that they will spoil faster, or that germs will develop. On the contrary, eggs are more fragile when put in the fridge. This is because the shell surrounding the yolk and white of the egg is porous and “breathes”.
This means that the egg absorbs all the odors that are in your fridge and therefore will give a bad taste to the product.
Therefore, you should leave them in their box at room temperature. They only go in the fridge when broken, and in an airtight container.
Like onions, garlic can become soft and develop unusual flavors when stored in the fridge. Garlic spoils faster in the refrigerator. It also can germinate, and becomes rubbery over time — and who wants garlic rubber?
It needs a dry and airy environment, at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. It will keep for up to two months, so you have time to eat it!
Honey naturally preserves itself at room temperature. During archeological excavations, scientists found honey that had been preserved for three thousand years — and was still edible. You don’t have to take it quite that far. But honey can actually be kept for a very long time, without any refrigeration.
If you put it in the cold, it will crystallize and harden. You will simply end up with a hard paste, impossible to spread.
Simply store honey in a closed jar at room temperature.
14-Lemons (and other citrus fruits)
Lemons grow on sunny mountainsides, for example in Sicily or California. Therefore, you should not expose them, and their citrus relatives, to cold shock. Otherwise, they will stop ripening from shock and become shriveled.
Store them at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.
15-Melons and Watermelons
Melons and watermelons can’t be kept in the refrigerator either. In order for them to continue to ripen and develop their full flavor, it is best to leave them at room temperature. Also, leaving them outside would best maintain their anti-oxidant levels.
Only when the melon is very ripe (it is then very heavy, the stalk starts to detach and it smells good), you can put it in the refrigerator. Not before!
(Also once they are cut).
Your visitor brings you an expensive looking olive oil. Do you want to put it in the fridge so that it lasts longer?
Absolutely not! That’s where the oil gets hard and can start to flake (yikes?).
A quick trip to the fridge and your olive oil will harden and turn into a paste. Not really practical to season your salads!
Store at room temperature, away from light.
In addition to making your fridge smelly, onions don’t do well in a humid environment. It can cause them to become soggy and develop off-flavors. Instead of keeping it in good condition, the refrigerator will make it rot faster and remove its spiciness.
You should always have onions (and garlic) in the house — just not in the refrigerator. Both vegetables need air. The American National Onion Association (yes, they really exist!) therefore advises not to store onions in the refrigerator or in plastic bags. There they become soft and moldy.
Instead, store them in a well-ventilated area away from light.
Potatoes like to be cool, but not cold! Keeping potatoes in the refrigerator can lead to the formation of harmful compounds called acrylamides when cooked.
The cold of the fridge will transform the starch of the potato into sugar, and this will alter its taste when cooked. Moreover, the over-presence of sugar will increase the darkness of the potatoes when cooked, which will make them unappetizing.
Fried potatoes, jacket potatoes, french fries: definitely don’t pack the tubers in the fridge.
Also, avoid leaving it in a plastic bag which will generate humidity.
Tomatoes don’t belong in the refrigerator. Although you may feel that you are extending their shelf life, you will lose all their flavor. Instead of juicy and aromatic, they will become soft, mealy and even tasteless. And we really don’t want that.
If you buy them from the supermarket, they may not be ripe enough, and putting them in your fridge would stop the ripening process.
The best thing to do is to leave them at room temperature, away from the sun, until they are ripe enough.
The exception here is if they’re fully ripe, then storing them in the fridge will prolong shelf life.
Zucchinis risk to become floury if kept in the refrigerator.
In general, zucchini should be used quickly after purchase, because the vegetable can not be stored for a long time in its raw state.
However, to ensure its shelf life for a few days, zucchini should be kept at a temperature of about 46-50º F (8-10º C).
Since zucchini is a cold-sensitive food, it should not be stored below this temperature. Therefore, the refrigerator is not suitable for prolonged storage.
Whew! What can I even put in the fridge?
Actually quite a lot. First and foremost, of course, perishables, like fish and meat or dairy products.
Even some fruits and vegetables above mentioned (preferably only if ripen) can be put in the fridge to make them last a little longer (say a couple days more).
Not to be confused with storing, of course!
Get this: 🙂
Over the years, I’ve been collecting those special tips: short but great — the kind that makes you go “wow!, it’s good to know this”.
I call them my Super-tips, and I’ll be sharing them regularly with our subscribers.
Bonus: 7 more items to keep out of the fridge:
21-Berries (Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries)
Berries are highly perishable and sensitive to temperature changes. The moisture in the fridge can cause them to mold or become squishy.
Store them in a cool, dry place or freeze them.
Similar to berries, cherries are prone to moisture damage and should be stored outside of the refrigerator.
Grapes can become soggy and lose their flavor when exposed to cold temperatures.
Store them in a paper bag or wrap them loosely in plastic before placing them in a cool, dry spot.
Chilled mushrooms can absorb odors from other foods and develop off-flavors.
Keep them in a paper bag or wrapped in plastic at room temperature.
Refrigerating corn can rob it of its natural sweetness.
Store ears of corn in a cool, dry place, and husked corn can go into the vegetable crisper.
Bell peppers can become limp and flavorless when stored in the fridge.
Keep them in a cool, dry place or in a paper bag.
Some hot sauces contain vinegar, which can separate and turn cloudy when refrigerated.
Store them at room temperature to maintain their consistency and flavor.