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20 Foods You’re Spoiling By Putting in the Refrigerator

It may be second nature to stash just about anything in the fridge, but this produce actually stays fresher at room temperature.

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Watermelon slicesPhoto: Shutterstock

Whole melons

The fridge can cut the number of antioxidants in half. A USDA study found that watermelons at room temperature develop nearly double the levels of compounds like beta-carotene (which promotes healthy skin and eyesight) than refrigerated melons. Cool air stunts the antioxidant growth that occurs after harvest. Chill sliced melons to prevent bacterial growth.

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Basil on chopping boardPhoto: Shutterstock

Basil

If this tropical plant is stored below four degrees celsius, it turns black quickly. Keep on the counter in a shady place, and mimic placing flowers in a vase: Fill a glass with water and submerge the stems. Place a zip-top plastic bag over the plant to allow it to breathe and stay moist.

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Raw potatoes in sackPhoto: Shutterstock

Potatoes

Cold temperatures convert potato starch into sugar. This results in a gritty texture and a slightly sweet flavour. Potatoes do best at seven degrees celsius (most refrigerators are set from two to three degrees celsius). Store them in a paper bag in the cool pantry. Sunlight causes chlorophyll to accumulate, turning potatoes green and sometimes bitter.

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Onions in a basketPhoto: Shutterstock

Onions

These vegetables need air circulation to stay fresh. Store whole onions in a hole-punched paper bag in the pantry. Don’t keep near potatoes; onions emit gas and moisture that can cause potatoes to spoil quickly. Refrigerate chopped onions.

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Red tomatoes on a vinePhoto: Shutterstock

Tomatoes

Cool air alters chemical pathways in tomatoes, slowing those that contribute to fresh flavour and accelerating others that dull flavour. Store whole tomatoes on the counter for more delicious taste.

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Coffee beansPhoto: Shutterstock

Coffee

The moisture in your fridge causes the beans to deteriorate, meaning you aren’t getting the fresh, bold flavour you want from your morning brew. Plus, the temperature fluctuates every time you open the door to your fridge, creating condensation, which in turn creates even more moisture. Stash your coffee beans in an airtight container in the pantry instead.

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Garlic clovesPhoto: Shutterstock

Garlic

Garlic cloves fare best in temperatures between 15 to 18 degrees celsius. Put your bulbs in a ventilated container to allow moisture in, and stash it in a cool place.

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Tabasco hot saucePhoto: Robson90/Shutterstock

Hot sauce

The vinegar and preservatives in store-bought hot sauce keep it from going bad in the pantry. In the fridge, the spicy peppers might lose some of their heat.

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Sweet honeyPhoto: Shutterstock

Honey

This sticky, sweet stuff should not go in the fridge. Honey is known to seize up and crystalize in cold temperatures. Room-temperature is the ideal temperature level for this sweetener.

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Sliced sourdough breadPhoto: Shutterstock

Sliced bread

Although keeping bread in the fridge keeps mould at bay, it also dries out the loaf. Instead, store extra bread in the freezer and bring to room temperature when you are ready to eat them. If you go through bread a lot, it’s best to keep it out on the counter.

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Assorted nutsPhoto: Shutterstock

Nuts

For optimal nutty flavour, it’s best to store nuts in an airtight container in the pantry or cupboard. Storing nuts in the fridge exposes the shelled variety to absorbable fridge odours. Plus, the cool environment diminishes the nutty flavour.

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AvocadosPhoto: Shutterstock

Avocados

The creamy green fruit is best kept at room temperature if it’s hard, or if it’s ripe and you plan on using it right away. That said, finicky avocados that quickly go from underripe to overripe can go in the fridge to last longer.

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NectarinesPhoto: Shutterstock

Stone fruits

Peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots are all best kept at room temperature so they can ripen to perfection.

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Olive oil

This cooking oil should go in a cool, dark place. Keeping it in the fridge can create a harder, more butter-like consistency.

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CucumbersPhoto: Shutterstock

Cucumbers

Cucumbers should come out of the fridge. The common mistake of keeping them in the fridge leads to watery and pitted cukes.

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Red, green and yellow bell pepperPhoto: Shutterstock

Bell peppers

Mushy peppers are never tasty, so don’t put them in the fridge. Low temperatures cause the peppers to lose their crunch.

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Pickles

It’s not a big dill (pun intended!) to keep your pickles out of the fridge. Since they’re already preserved in brine, they can remain in your pantry until you are ready to eat them.

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Dark chocolate chunksPhoto: Shutterstock

Chocolate

Keep chocolate at room temperature somewhere dark and dry for maximum flavour; this avoids a grain consistency from the fridge.

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Grilled eggplantPhoto: Shutterstock

Eggplant

If you’re eating eggplant a few days after purchase, it’s OK to keep it out on the counter. Storing it in the fridge could dull the flavour. Take note though that eggplant does have a short shelf life outside of the fridge, so be sure to eat it right away.

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Whole watermelonPhoto: Shutterstock

Whole watermelon

You don’t need to make room for a huge, uncut watermelon in your fridge. The fruit is actually best stored at room temperature. Keep it on the counter until it’s time to cut it up. After you slice it, wrap it up and place it in the fridge.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest