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Do NOT put the following foods in the refrigerator!

By Mike Thayer

Not everything stays fresher in the fridge.  The items on the following list will actually last longer and have peak flavor if you keep them stored in your pantry or on the countertop.  Don't waste fridge space!  An example BONUS:  Seeing those beautiful blueberries on the counter will motivate you to eat them, as opposed to forgetting about them hidden in the refrigerator fruit drawer.

A fresh baked Parmesan Loaf

Bread:  Bread is probably the most common slip up for storing in the fridge out there.   The cold air in the fridge actually makes the bread go stale, faster, it breaks down the starches changing the texture of the bread for the worse.  A fridge does NOT extend the life of a loaf of bread.  Ideally, bread should be eaten within 2 to 3 days and don't store it in plastic, store it in a paper bag instead because plastic can trap humidity and encourage mold growth.  They make bread boxes for a reason, they work.  And if you can't eat that loaf in 3 days, freeze it for toasting.

Apples:  This is probably the #2 most common storage slip up.  We've all been there and done that, storage slip ups, but just because your mom or ex-wife stored something in the fridge, doesn't mean it was the right thing to do.  So something to keep in Applemind, think grocery store for a basic rule of thumb.  If you bought it at room temperature, it should be stored at room temperature.  Apples stay crispier and maintain a more robust, juicy flavor when stored in a pantry or on the counter.  Here's a test.  Buy some apples.  Keep some on the countertop, put some in the fridge.  After 3 days, sample one of each.

Cucumbers:  From the grocery store to the fridge, here's another one that is commonly kept in the 'crisper' Cucumberdrawer in the fridge.  Keep them on the counter!  AFTER you've served them up THEN you can store the sliced, diced, chopped cucumber in an airtight container in the fridge.  If you want to serve the cucumbers cold, that is best done by presenting them in a serving dish or plate on ice.

Bananas:  I probably didn't have to list this one, I think most people know the cool Bananatemperatures of the fridge prematurely ages a banana, darkens the skin, dries out the fruit and then there's the easy bruising.  TIP:  Keeping all your bananas on the same bunch = all those bananas ripening at the same time.  Create smaller bunches, storing them separately.

AvocadoAvocado:  Really?  Do I have to list avocado?  Don't put avocados in the fridge.  Keep them on the counter until use.  In fact, pair really firm avocados with the bananas on the green side, they ripen well together.

Tomatoes:  You want robust tomato flavor?  Keep them on the counter.  They're easier to slice too, as the skin stays firmer, Tomatolonger at room temp.  Have some leftover diced or sliced tomato?  Now is the time for refrigeration.  Store cut tomatoes in an air tight container, eat them within 2-3 days but pull from the fridge and let them come up to room temperature before using/serving for optimum flavor.  Freeze any remaining cut tomato after 3 days.

Citrus, Berries, Stone Fruits, Melons:  All of these maintain more robust flavor when stored at room Berriestemperature.  Stone fruits such as peaches and apricots, actually may need the time on the counter to ripen if what you bought at the store is still a bit firm for eating.  Once you slice, chop, dice or otherwise cut these fruits, then yes, refrigerate.  And yes, while you can refrigerate these items to extend their life, they won't taste as good and they'll start to get mushy coming from the fridge.  Remember the how you bought it at the store rule and buy what you'll consume.

OnionOnions:  Onions hate the cold and moisture that exists in a refrigerator, they get soft and moldy in those conditions.  Like most anything else on this list however, once sliced, diced, or chopped, put in an airtight container and refrigerate.  TIP:  Do not store next to fruit or potatoes in the pantry or on the counter.  Sitting next to either will greatly speed up the spoilage factor.

GarlicGarlic:  Garlic is always best at room temp and doesn't take up a whole lot of space on the counter.  I've always got onions and garlic sitting on a plate, ready to be chopped in my kitchen.  And garlic bulbs already come portioned, letting you chop what you need for whatever dish you are preparing.  TIP:  Once you break the head, the remaining cloves are good for about 10 days.

PotatoPotatoes:  Best stored in a pantry, away from any kind of moisture.  Try to keep them separate from other fruit/veggie that you are keeping in the pantry.

PeppersPeppers:  Think about it....  Did you buy them at room temp at the grocery store?  Peppers tend to lose that crisp exterior in the cold of the fridge.  The grocery store rule applies AND the after you slice, dice or chop THEN store in the fridge rule applies.

CoffeeCoffee:  Ground or whole beans in a refrigerator does absolutely NOTHING to extend the life of coffee.  For maximum flavor, maximum aroma, keep your coffee in the pantry.

Hazelnut spread, Nuts & Honey:  Hazelnut spread will just seize up (and lose some flavor) being stored in the fridge and Nutellagood luck trying to spread that cold stuff on some toast!  Honey will start to crystalize in the fridge, making it more of a sludge, rather than good, robust, spreadable honey.  And cold temps mess with the oils in nuts, changing the flavor profile.  Keep nuts in an airtight container in your pantry.

Hot sauceHot Sauce/Soy Sauce:  I was guilty of this one for years!  Unless the bottle says, "Refrigerate after opening" there is NO need to!  The fermentation in the soy and the vinegar in the Hot sauce keep both of these just fine on the counter/pantry for up to a year.  The key, both of these sauces have a more robust flavor at room temperature.  Your eggs will taste better with a splash of room temp hot sauce, your fried rice will taste better hitting it with room temp soy sauce when serving.

So there you have it, maximizing flavors and maximizing the shelf life of A LOT of foods by NOT storing them in the fridge.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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