samael334 / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Is your refrigerator bursting at its seams? Are the shelves completely cluttered? If that is the case, you’re going to be glad to know that some of the foods taking up valuable fridge space are among the groceries you’re storing all wrong. In fact, lots of things are better left on the counter or in the pantry. A good rule of thumb is to think about where the ingredients are displayed in the grocery store; whether they are frozen, refrigerated or kept at room temp, follow suit at home. Here are some foods that you shouldn't refrigerate.
Whether you make bread at home or buy a sliced loaf from the grocery store, putting it in the fridge will make it dry out and go stale faster.
Grocery store loaves should be kept in their plastic loaf casing at room temperature. And bakery breads that are usually sold in brown paper bags should be removed from the bag and wrapped tightly in plastic cling wrap and also kept at room temperature. The absolute best way to store all your loaves is in a bread box right in your kitchen. And if you’re not going to get through your loaf within a few days, know how to freeze and thaw bread.
Bananas are great for a quick breakfast or as an ingredient in muffins or simple five-ingredient desserts. Refrigerating bananas will make the peels get brown much faster, and you don’t want that unless you’re trying to over-ripen them. The fridge can also change a banana’s texture.
Certain herbs like cilantro and parsley do just fine in the fridge and shouldn’t be stored elsewhere, but basil does way better at room temperature. Basil leaves actually wilt quicker when kept in the fridge and the leaves can turn black a lot sooner, which means the herb will be no good for pizza night at home.
To keep your basil fresh, trim the tips of the stems. Then repurpose a glass jar and place the basil in water just as you would cut flowers. Even if the basil stems aren’t long enough, you can still place them in a jar the same way. Put the jar on the windowsill or somewhere it can get sun but not overheat. You can also cover the basil loosely with a plastic bag to help the leaves stay fresh even longer. Change the water if it starts to get murky.
If you’re storing your potatoes in the fridge, you’re doing it wrong. The cold air can affect the flavor and texture of spuds and ruin your favorite potato salad recipe.
Potatoes are pretty low maintenance and last for weeks. They are best stored in a cool, dark and airy place in a paper bag. Keep away from onions, which can cause them to sprout faster and take on the flavor of onions. Remember, toss out any green potatoes you may find in the bunch before whipping up our all-time best potato recipes.
Leave tomatoes out on the counter in a glass bowl. Easy peasy.
Onions are probably one of the grocery items you’re storing all wrong. If you want to keep your unpeeled onions fresh for as long as possible, keep them outside the fridge — but away from potatoes.
If you have a straw basket laying around, use it to store your onions. Baskets are well-ventilated and make for an optimal environment for storing onions, garlic and potatoes. And when you need to chop your onions, make sure you know how to cut onions without crying. If you want to save part of a cut onion, that can go in the fridge in a sealed container.
Speaking of garlic, placing bulbs of garlic in the fridge will make them sprout faster. Refrigerated garlic can also become moldy, rubbery and less flavorful.
Store your unpeeled garlic bulbs on the counter for the best results. You can also keep them with your onions in a straw basket.
Like other potatoes, there really is no need to use up precious fridge space to store sweet potatoes. They might also take even longer than usual to cook after being in the cold.
Sweet potatoes, which are fantastic to use in a lazy breakfast hash, last for a long time on the counter or in a cool, dark place like the basement or a pantry.
You could store chocolate in the fridge, but that will actually degrade its quality. If refrigerated, chocolate can absorb fridge odors, be affected by condensation and become chalky and splotchy.
Ideally, chocolate should be stored in a dark, dry, cool place around 62F. Keep it in a resealable plastic bag or other airtight container to keep it as fresh as possible and ready to eat and use in the best chocolate recipes. If your home is hot and there really isn't a cool spot then keep the chocolate in an airtight container and move it to the fridge.
If you prefer your fruits cold, you can refrigerate them, but heart-healthy apples tend to do better at room temperature. The cold air of the fridge can break down the crisp texture of the fruit.
When you bring home fresh apples from the apple orchard or grocery store, place them in a fruit basket or a big bowl on the counter.
Uncut watermelons should never be refrigerated. Once in the cold, watermelons can lose their sweet flavor and bright color and become mushy.
Keep watermelons and other melons like honeydew and cantaloupe on the counter for maximum flavor. In fact, watermelons will keep for seven to 10 days at room temperature just fine. But once you cut the melon, pop it in the fridge for a few days. And it’s important to know how long cut fruit and other foods last in the fridge.
Never ever put honey in the fridge — there is just no reason to do so. The golden natural sweetener can crystalize and harden in cold temperatures, making it much more difficult to drizzle on some breakfast oatmeal.
Honey is one of those things you always need to keep in your kitchen. Room temperature in the pantry or cabinet is ideal to keep honey gooey and perfectly silky.
Not too sure who needs to hear this, but do not refrigerate your cereal. The cool and moist refrigerator air will mingle with the crunchy sweetened flakes and make them soggy and stale.
Store your cereal boxes in a dark pantry at room temperature. Or above your cabinets, or on top of the fridge — wherever you want. Just not in the fridge. Use a clip to keep the plastic bag closed so the cereal doesn't get stale.
Coffee beans have no place in the fridge — unless you want to ruin your brew. The humidity in the fridge can cause condensation to form on the beans, which can put a damper on the flavor of both ground and whole beans.
For the perfect cup of coffee at home, store your coffee beans in an airtight container in the pantry or right on the counter.
You might be surprised to know that hot sauce, even after being opened, doesn’t have to be refrigerated. There is plenty of vinegar and preservatives in most commercially bottled hot sauces to keep them fresh for a few years — if they last, that is.
If hot sauce is a pantry staple at your house, simply stash your bottles right alongside your dried pastas and canned beans. Just make sure the hot sauce is vinegar-based before doing so.
Childhood favorites like peanut butter and jelly never seem to get old, and peanut butter can be kept out of the refrigerator for months without going bad. Putting peanut butter in the fridge can also cause it to harden, which won’t be fun when you’re trying to spread some on bread. However, you should note that all-natural peanut butter can be kept in the fridge.
The National Peanut Board suggests storing processed brands of peanut butter (Skippy, Jif) in a cool, dry place with limited light and heat. Peanut butter is one of those groceries with a surprisingly long shelf life thanks to the stabilizers like palm oil and hydrogenated oils.
Butternut squash is delicious when roasted for creamy and flavorful soups. And the skin is thick enough to preserve all the flesh inside, so do not refrigerate whole butternut squash.
The robust vegetable will keep nicely for a month or more in a cool and dark place. But once cut, you can refrigerate it in airtight containers if you’re not using the whole thing to add into a hearty soup.
No need to take up space in your vegetable drawer with cucumbers. The fridge can actually damage the skin of a cucumber, making it go bad much quicker.
Cucumbers stay cool as can be just sitting on the counter. Storing them at room temperature will keep the cucumbers fresh and crisp to put into your salad.
Peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots should not be refrigerated if they’re unripe — doing so will cause them to not ripen at all.
For the ideal avocado ripeness, do not store them in the fridge. In fact, refrigerating them might actually put a damper on the ripening process. There are a few tricks to extend the life of cut avocados, plus a genius hack to make guacamole last longer.
This one might go without saying, but in case you wanted to be sure — do not stash your olive oil in the fridge. Once olive oil is stored in the fridge, it will harden, condense and become impossible to use.
The superfood is packed with healthy omega-3 fats and it belongs exclusively in your pantry. If stored properly, a bottle of olive oil can last a couple years. Along with olive oil, it’s just as important to know the shelf life of rice, flour and other pantry staples.
More from The Daily Meal: