People tend to turn to their fridge for storing any and everything. We’re not sure if it’s the frightening potential of contamination, the fear of fruit flies, or some other kitchen storage nightmare precaution, but refrigerators are the default option for storing almost all of our groceries.
There are tons of foods that we don’t need to refrigerate but we do anyway. Ketchup, for instance, is perfectly fine stored at room temperature, but we keep our big ketchup bottles in the fridge. Think about it — fast food chains keep ketchup in unrefrigerated packets all the time. Pickles, too, are perfectly fine left out on the counter or in the pantry without being chilled. There are so many preservatives in the brine that expiring is highly unlikely.
Refrigerators, while safe for some foods, are actually the opposite for others. Exposure to the frigid fridge air can harm certain fruits and vegetables, dry out some of our favorite foods, and cause leaves to wilt and whither in shorter times. While there are tons of foods we don’t need to chill but do anyway, there are some foods that actually could become less tasty or healthy when you store them in the refrigerator.
Unless you want to ruin your fancy cheese, keep it out of the fridge. We know this sounds counterintuitive — cheese is a dairy, after all, and we all know the dire need to refrigerate milk. But aged cheeses like Gouda, cheddar, or gruyere go through a curation process that takes a minimum of six months. After that period, the cheese no longer requires refrigeration and becomes firmer in texture. Refrigerating the cheese could harden it even more, ruining that sliceable feel you’re looking for once you set it out with crackers.
If you’ve ever tried this before, you probably know what happens — the peel (which you should never throw away) gets brown, slimy, and gross real fast. This is because the cold temperature of the refrigerator inhibits enzymes in the banana, essentially killing the mechanism that allows it to ripen. This prevents them from ripening further. Even once you remove them from the fridge, they will never ripen again.
The unnatural environment of the inside of your refrigerator is bad news for basil. The plant will wilt twice as fast as it would normally, and lose lots of its aroma and flavor in the process, as it absorbs the flavors and smells of the foods stored around it.
Storing bread in the fridge to keep it fresh for longer is self-sabotage — the cold air of the fridge chamber dries out bread faster than ever, leaving you with a chalky, dry loaf far too quickly. The result will feel tough, chewy, and drying in your mouth — not exactly the smooth, buttery bread you bargained for.
Putting your box of Corn Flakes in the fridge isn’t going to make them last longer. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The cool, moist refrigerator air will mingle with the crunchy flakes to make them soggy and stale. Unless you’re one of those weirdos who love soggy cereal, keep your box out of the cold.
No need to take up space in your vegetable drawer with these. This vegetable feels cool as a cucumber just sitting on the counter. The fridge can actually damage the skin of a cucumber, making it expire much more quickly.
Who doesn’t love a good doughnut? We wish doughnuts were resilient enough to last forever, but unfortunately after two days on the counter their time will expire. In an attempt to make them last longer, some people try to stuff the treats in the fridge. This won’t work, and will actually ruin your party-perfect doughnuts. The moist environment will cause the doughnuts to become sticky, soggy, and stale.
Garlic is one of those things it seems is always on your grocery list. The cloves go bad far quicker than you can seem to use them up, and when you only need one or two cloves in each recipe, unless you’re cooking for a crowd, it’s impossible to use every clove in time. Our intuition tells us that placing a head of garlic in the fridge will preserve it for longer. But this is actually misguided. Placing garlic in the fridge causes it to sprout. The garlic can also become moldy, rubbery, and less flavorful. Store your garlic unpeeled on the counter for the best results.
They’re a splurge, but so worth it once you start cooking with them. But because of their price, we tend to want to preserve them for as long as we can. However, refrigerating your herbs is the absolute wrong way to get this accomplished — the best way to store them is in a vase of water, like a bouquet of flowers. That way, they’ll maintain optimal freshness.
A great sugar replacement for coffee, baking, and Greek yogurt, honey is one of those foods that almost never goes bad — until, of course, you put it in the fridge. The sugar crystallization process that hardens the honey and makes it impossible to spread speeds up in the fridge.
Unopened melons should never be refrigerated. Once they’re cut, though, they need to be. Inside their hard shell, the cold temperatures have the capacity to alter the chemical composition of the fruit inside. They’ll lose some of their antioxidants and beta-carotene, the vitamin that helps maintain your eyesight as you age.
Unpeeled onions require air exposure; otherwise they become moldy and soft. Store your unpeeled onions on the counter to keep them fresh for as long as possible. If you’ve already peeled one (maybe by using this peeling hack), place it in the fridge in a sealed container. Then, use one of these foolproof methods to cut it without crying.
This classic sandwich spread can be kept out of the refrigerator for years without going bad. Placing it in the fridge can cause it to harden, becoming an endeavor to spread and ruining that beloved smooth texture. The same goes for other kinds of nut butter as well, including almond, cashew, and hazelnut.
The chilly environment of your refrigerator can convert potato starch into sugar. When you use your cold potatoes to cook, you’ll end up with a surprising (and probably unwelcome) sweet taste in your savory dish. Store potatoes on a dry counter for the best shelf life, and throw them away once they start to sprout.
When you buy peaches or plums at the store, they’re likely not ripe yet. And once you place them in your fridge, they never will be. Putting these fruits in the fridge stalls the ripening process by altering the compounds in the fruit. Additionally, some of the nutrients in the fruit will become lost over time. So your fruits stored on the counter are actually more nutritious — not to mention way tastier.
There’s no reason to store sweet potatoes in the fridge. They last forever on the counter! Plus, the cold environment of your refrigerator can alter the cell walls of the potato, making them harder in texture. The chilled sweet potatoes will take longer than usual to cook as a result — annoying, since they take forever in the first place.
These fruits (yeah, they are fruits, though the law says otherwise) are known for their strong flavor. It’s the reason they’re used in so many sauces and salads. However, when you store these plump plants in the fridge, you’re allowing them to lose all of their flavor to the cold, moist air. The fridge also stalls their ripening process. As tomatoes ripen, they get tastier — so you’re really sabotaging your own cooking success by putting them in the icebox. Here’s the best way to use any kind of tomato you buy.