The invention of the refrigerator was a game changer in our ability to conserve food. It prevents many foods from becoming laden with disease-causing bacteria, as well as helps us save money buying food that goes bad before we can eat it all.
Most of us use a refrigerator with little knowledge about the types of food that should be stored in it and what should not.
Too often, we refrigerate food that should actually be kept on the counter or in the pantry. Storing some foods in the refrigerator will ruin their texture as well as taste.
Here are the top 10 foods that you should never keep in the refrigerator.
1. Whole Melons
Whole melons should not be stored in the refrigerator. In a 2006 study, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers found that when stored at room temperature, watermelons have more antioxidants (lycopene and beta carotene) than when stored in the refrigerator.
In fact, the study found that compared to freshly picked fruit, watermelons stored at room temperature had 40 percent more lycopene and 139 percent more beta carotene content.
So, instead of keeping the whole melons in the refrigerator, leave them on your counter at room temperature. However, if you hav cut or sliced melons, you can cover them and store in the refrigerator.
Tomatoes are very delicate in nature, and they lose their flavor and texture when refrigerated. Cold temperature damages the membranes along the fruit’s walls, making them lose flavor and become mushy. Plus, cold air stops the ripening process.
One of the best places to store unripe tomatoes is on the counter at room temperature. To speed up ripening, put them in a paper bag. Also, keep them stem-side down.
Ripe tomatoes are meant to be eaten within a couple of days, so buy them in small amounts as needed. Keep them at room temperature stem side up, away from sunlight. Room temperature, here refers to a temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 degrees Celsius.
However, if you have overripe tomatoes, you can store them in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days before they go bad completely.
To “recondition” the refrigerated tomatoes, take them out and leave them at room temperature for a few hours. To get the best flavor, pick your tomatoes from a local farmer’s market.
Keeping potatoes in the refrigerator will make them sweet and gritty in nature. The cold temperature breaks down the starch in potatoes, thus increasing their sugar content.
This leads to higher levels of a chemical called acrylamide when you cook them at high temperatures. Acrylamide is harmful for your health and increase the risk of cancer.
When stored in warmer or more humid areas, potatoes will start sprouting or going bad. Mature potatoes remain good for months if kept in a cool, dark environment like a root cellar or pantry. If the potatoes are damp, allow them to dry out on the counter before storing them.
Avoid storing potatoes in plastic bags, as lack of air causes them to start deteriorating quickly. You can keep them in a paper bag or a perforated plastic bag, which allows more air circulation.
Do not store whole onions in the refrigerator. Due to moisture, whole onions will turn soft and moldy. However, you can store chopped or sliced onions in a sealed container in your refrigerator for a few days. Keep the temperature at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
Whole onions should be kept in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area in the mesh bag they came in. Do not store them in plastic bags, as lack of air circulation can affect their shelf life.
Plus, never keep onions alongside potatoes, as the moisture and gas emitted from them can cause both onions and potatoes to spoil quickly.
There is no need to store honey in the refrigerator, but you don’t want to keep it near your stove or oven either. Extreme cold or hot temperatures can spoil its taste and texture. When exposed to cold temperature, honey may begin to crystallize.
Room temperature helps preserve your honey’s natural goodness. To keep honey fresh, store it in an airtight, glass container.
Avoid storing it in metal or non-food-grade plastic containers, as they can cause oxidization of the honey. Keep the container in a dry, cool place out of direct sunlight. A cupboard or pantry is best.
Do not use honey if it smells sour or has visible mold growth. Properly stored honey may naturally solidify and crystallize as it gets older.
6. Olive Oil
If you use olive oil for cooking or making salad dressings, do not keep the bottle in the refrigerator. Very low temperature causes the oil to condense and take on a harder consistency. Refrigeration can also cause olive oil to become cloudy, which affects the quality and flavor.
It is better to store olive oil in a sealed, dark-colored container and keep it in a cool, dark cupboard. It will remain in good condition for a year or two.
Never keep your olive oil container on a windowsill, near your stove or in a cabinet above the stove. When exposed to repeated heat and light, olive oil can turn rancid. Rancidity can set in long before you can taste it or smell it.
If whole garlic bulbs or garlic cloves are refrigerated, the cold temperature is likely to cause them to soften and start deteriorating.
It will even change the consistency and flavor. However, chopped or minced fresh garlic can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for a short period.
Always store your garlic bulbs in a cool place away from direct sunlight to extend their shelf life and prevent sprouting.
Your kitchen cupboard or a shady corner of your kitchen counter works fine. The bulbs need to breathe, so never store them in a plastic bag or sealed container. Keep them in a mesh or wire basket to allow ventilation.
Use all the garlic cloves quickly once broken from the bulb, which shortens their shelf life. Plus, avoid buying young, wet garlic as they tend to rot quickly.
8. Coffee Beans and Grounds
As coffee beans are hygroscopic in nature, they easily absorb moisture from the surrounding area. Moisture will affect the aroma and flavor of both coffee beans and grounds. Plus, coffee may take on the smell of other food in the refrigerator.
Store coffee in an airtight, ceramic canister or vacuum canister. Keep it in a cool, dark and dry place. Avoid exposing coffee beans and grounds to air, heat and light. This will help retain its freshness and full flavor that you love when drinking a cup of coffee.
Also, try to buy your coffee in small quantities as needed.
Bread also should not be stored in the refrigerator. Wheat flour, the primary ingredient in bread, is packed full of granules of starch.
When exposed to moisture, the starch breaks down and becomes increasingly amorphous. This causes the bread to dry out quickly. Plus, it actually gets stale faster.
Keep your bread in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, such as in your pantry or a bread box. This will help maintain the proper crumb and crust texture.
You can keep bread wrapped in plastic or aluminum foil at room temperature for no more than two days. Or, you could wrap an entire loaf in plastic or aluminum foil and store in the freezer to arrest starch retrogradation and hold the bread in a stable state.
If there is high humidity, buy fresh bread as needed and avoid storing it for next day. Before using partially stale bread, heat it in the oven.
10. Stone Fruits
Stone fruits are those that have seeds or pits in them that are relatively large compared to the size of the fruit. Examples of stone fruits include peaches, apricots, cherries and plums.
There is no need to keep stone fruits in the refrigerator. Cold temperature and humidity can quickly affect their quality and flavor, and turn them into a moldy mess.
You can keep any stone fruits wrapped in a brown paper bag in a cool, dry place. Always arrange the fruits stem-end down and store at room temperature until ready to eat. To make them ripen quickly, put them on a sunny windowsill or table.
Once ripe, eat them as soon as possible. Plus, it’s best to buy these fruits in small amounts as needed.