Cleaning & Organizing
15 Food Storage Guidelines You Didn’t Know
To fridge or not to fridge? Discover what foods you should take out of your refrigerator and what unexpected items you should store there now.
Better at room temp: Avocados
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Perhaps the most irritating food in terms of ripening, avocados should be kept out of the fridge until they’re at their optimal freshness (which lasts, if you’ve ever bought one, about 5 minutes). Once they’re ripe, you can place them in the fridge for 5-10 days. Tip: Keep the pit in the half of the avocado that you’re not going to eat; it keeps it fresher, longer.
Keep it cold: Nuts
This may come as a surprise, but your favorite healthy midday snack actually does better in the fridge. The oils in nuts can become rancid after a few months if they’re left at room temperature. Fun fact: They can also be frozen, since they have such a small water content.
Better at room temp: Uncut Watermelon
Stop letting your huge watermelons hog all of the room in the fridge! This fruit is good left on the counter until it’s cut. Once you slice it, wrap it up and place it in the fridge for optimal freshness. Check out 11 more food storage tricks to make your favorite foods last longer.
Keep it cold: Opened salami or pepperoni
Meats that you’ll typically find on a cheese board, like salami, cured ham, and pepperoni, should be put in the fridge once you open them. The cut end becomes seriously susceptible to bacteria growth if it’s left out on the counter or in the pantry. Make sure you know exactly how long every kind of meat lasts in the fridge.
Keep it cold: Pure maple syrup
The real stuff has no preservatives and can become moldy after opening if it’s not chilled within a few weeks or months. But if you’re using commercial, processed maple syrup, it’s good to stay in the pantry. If you’re not looking forward to pancakes with cold maple syrup, pour out a serving size and pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds––it’ll take your flapjacks to the next level.
Keep it cold: Ripe bananas
Ripe bananas stay at their perfect peak for another week if you toss them in the refrigerator—but wait until they’re soft with plenty of spots. If you put still-green or not-quite-ripe bananas in the fridge, it’ll halt the ripening process and you’ll never get the perfect banana…unless you like ’em green (Tip: There is less sugar in them that way!).
Better at room temp: Garlic
Entire bulbs of garlic can be left on the counter for up to 3-4 months, while individual cloves will last up to 10 days. And if you’re afraid you won’t use it quickly enough, you can store whole, unpeeled garlic in the freezer and remove cloves as you need them. But who doesn’t use garlic quickly? Here are 10 more foods you didn’t know you could freeze.
Better at room temp: Potatoes
Moisture makes spuds go blah; store in the pantry or on the counter for up to three weeks. Once you see ’em start to grow sprouts or get soft, that’s a sign to use them quickly (especially in soups and stews!) or ditch them. Also, beware: Potatoes exude (non-scented) fumes when they’re sitting out that can spoil other foods like onions more quickly. Don’t miss these 12 foods that you should never store together.
Keep it cold: Natural peanut butter
The oils in natural peanut butter can go rancid quickly when stored at warm temperatures. Take your PB out of the fridge 15-20 minutes before use and gift it a good stir to soften it up. Commercial, processed peanut butters, which include more than just peanuts as an ingredient, can be left in the pantry for up to a year, since there are added preservatives in the mix.
Better at room temp: Hot sauce
Acidic, vinegar-based foods like this fiery condiment are fine at room temperature. However, you can refrigerate it for longer-lasting flavor, just make sure to bring it to room temp before use.
Better at room temp: Bread
Nothing makes loaves go stale faster than a stint in the refrigerator. Freeze what you won’t eat within a few days. Now that eating bread is less popular in American diets, we recommend popping your loaf in the freezer right when you get home from the supermarket. That way, you don’t even have to worry about keeping an eye on it for mold.
Keep it cold: Coconut oil
All oils can become rancid after a few months on the counter, especially the oils that are used less frequently (enter: coconut oil). Coconut oil is a solid fat whether it’s in the pantry or in the fridge, so all you need to do is pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to bring it to its liquid state. Read up on these 12 surprising items you need to refrigerate.
Better at room temp: Cake
Chilled air dries it out, no matter how well wrapped it is; unless frosting is literally melting off, store cake on the counter. However, if your kitchen is hot and humid, the cake can spoil quickly, so refrigeration isn’t the worst option.
Better at room temp: Tomatoes
Avoid the fridge at all costs: Tomatoes will turn mushy and bland in there. They’re best left out of zip-locked bags and instead placed in a paper bag until they’re ripe. Once ripened, you can keep ’em out on the counter. Here are the other foods you’ve been spoiling by putting them in the fridge.
While butter is on the USDA’s safe-to-eat unrefrigerated list of foods, it’ll last a whole lot longer in the fridge. If you have a hot or humid kitchen, your butter could spoil within a few days, so it’s best kept chilled. Next, check out 11 other foods you’re probably storing all wrong.
Sources: Real Simple, Eating Well, snopes.com, losethebackpain.com, farmersalmanac.com, huffingtonpost.com