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20 Foods You Shouldn’t Be Putting in the Fridge

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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Storing foods

After going to the supermarket to buy groceries, placing foods in the refrigerator to last longer seems like the most common sense thing to do. But is the refrigerator the best place to store certain foods? For some foods, it might be the best place for storage, but for others, it might be the worst. These are the 13 items in your kitchen you need to throw out already.

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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 do refrigerated melons. Cool air stunts the antioxidant growth that occurs after harvest. Chill sliced melons to prevent bacterial growth. This is how often you should really be cleaning your fridge.

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Basil

If this tropical plant is stored below 40 degrees F, 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. This is how you can spring clean your refrigerator in a few easy steps.

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Potatoes

Cold temperatures convert potato starch into sugar. This results in a gritty texture and a slightly sweet flavor. Potatoes do best at 45° F (most refrigerators are set from 35° F to 38° F). Store them in a paper bag in the cool pantry. Sunlight causes chlorophyll to accumulate, turning potatoes green and sometimes bitter. Use these 18 tricks to squeeze more into your storage space.

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Cucumbers

Cucumbers should come out of the fridge. The common mistake of keeping them in the fridge leads to watery and pitted cukes. This is the real reason why cats are afraid of cucumbers.

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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. Here are 20 extraordinary uses for everyday foods you should know.

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Tomatoes

Cool air alters chemical pathways in tomatoes, slowing those that contribute to fresh flavor and accelerating others that dull flavor. Store whole tomatoes on the counter for more delicious taste. This is the definitive answer to whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable.

Cup of coffee, bag and scoop on old rusty backgroundIlja Generalov/Shutterstock

 Coffee

The moisture in your fridge causes the beans to deteriorate, meaning you aren’t getting the fresh, bold flavor 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. Don’t miss these 9 other kitchen hacks that keep half-empty ingredients fresh.

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Garlic

Garlic cloves fare best in temperatures between 60 and 65° F. Put your bulbs in a ventilated container to allow moisture in and stash it in a cool place. This is why you should never wrap your leftovers in tin foil.

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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. Find out why you shouldn’t store your eggs in the fridge door.

Honey in a pot or jar on kitchen table, top viewJulia Sudnitskaya/Shutterstock

Honey

This sticky, sweet stuff should not go in the fridge. Honey is known to seize up and crystallize in cold temperatures. Room-temperature is the ideal temperature level for this sweetener. If honey could talk, here’s what it would tell you.

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Sliced bread

Although keeping bread in the fridge keeps mold 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. This is the one place you’re forgetting to check your bread for mold.

Assorted mixed nuts in bowl on wooden table. Top viewetorres/Shutterstock

Nuts

For an optimal nutty flavor, it’s best to store nuts in an airtight container in the pantry or cupboard.”Nuts don’t need refrigeration. They don’t have enough moisture to support rapid bacterial growth, so they can be stored safely at room temperature for up to three months,” says Katie Heil, Certified Professional in Food Safety. “That being said, refrigeration can prolong the quality of the nuts. It’s up to people’s discretion whether they refrigerate them or not.” This is the reason why peanuts aren’t actually nuts.

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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. This is what happens when you eat an avocado every day.

A group of ripe peaches in a bowlPNPImages/Shutterstock

Stone fruits

Peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots are all best kept at room temperature so they can ripen to perfection. This is the genius trick that will keep your strawberries fresh for days.

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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. This is what makes olive oil “extra virgin.”

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Bell peppers

Mushy peppers are never tasty, so don’t put them in the fridge. Low temperatures cause the peppers to lose their crunch. Here are 8 ways to change up stuffed peppers.

Overhead view of a bunch of pickle chips on a rustic cutting board with antique forks. Aimee M Lee/Shutterstock

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. Here are 25 brilliant kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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Chocolate

Keep chocolate at room temperature somewhere dark and dry for maximum flavor; this avoids a grain consistency from the fridge. Read through these secrets of being a professional chocolate taster.

Fresh raw Purple Eggplant in a special wicker basket for Eggplant on gray wooden background. Top view, blank space.Sergey Fatin/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 flavor. Take note though that eggplant does have a short shelf-life outside of the fridge, so be sure to eat it right away. If you’re a home chef, your friends will love these holiday food gifts. 

Watermelons in the farmer's shopIgor Sirbu/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. Next, check out these 15 food storage guidelines you didn’t know.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is an associate editor at The Healthy and a former assistant staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her work has appeared online at the Food Network and Well + Good and in print at Westchester Magazine, and more. When she's not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting heavy things at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts, and liking one too many astrology memes.