During the holiday season, my fridge is always full! Lots of leftovers, plus cookies and treats from neighbors take up quite a bit of room. After a bit of research, I found quite a few items were taking up room in my fridge that just didn’t need to be there! Some condiments have so much vinegar or salt, that they just don’t need to be in the fridge, while some produce actually maintains a better texture and flavor if it’s left on the counter.
Bananas taste best when they’re ripe, and if they go in the fridge too early, they will never ripen. Once the bananas are ripe, then you can transfer them to the fridge. They skins may turn black, but they taste just fine!
Putting bread in the fridge dries it out, leaving your bread stale or chewy. The moisture in the fridge encourages bacteria and mold, so store it in a breadbox, instead! The breadbox promotes air circulation, keeping the bread from getting too dry or too moist.
Keeping honey in the fridge won’t damage the shelf-life or the taste, but it will make the honey crystalize and clump. Storing honey in an air-tight glass jar, away from heat and direct sunlight, is the best method!
4. & 5. Onions and Garlic
The fridge makes food last longer because of the temperature, but it’s also rather humid inside. The humidity makes onions moldy more quickly than if they are stored on the countertop, plus their flavor often travels throughout the fridge. You want your onions to stay cool, dry, well-ventilated, and away from potatoes (because of the gasses emitted from the onions.)
Using a pair of nylons to store onions works perfectly, and it’s thrifty, too. :-) Garlic is similar and would do great in nylons as well; but you could also just use a basket in your cupboard or pantry.
6. Cooking Oil
Cooking oil should be kept in an air-tight, dark glass container. They stay liquid at room temperature, and trying to refrigerate and then melt the oils is more hassle than it’s worth! Plus, changing the temperature around too much will make the oil go rancid more quickly.
The humidity in the fridge can make potatoes rot, and the fridge actually causes the starch to break down into sugar. This makes your potatoes sweet, grainy and soft. You’re better off storing potatoes in a dry, dark, ventilated space; like a woven basket inside a cupboard. Be sure not to wash the potatoes until you’re ready to cook them, because water will also make the potatoes rot.
8. Coffee Beans
Coffee beans tend to absorb odors, so keeping coffee in the fridge is a bad idea! Plus, the moisture in the fridge makes the coffee less flavorful. Keep coffee in a dark, air-tight container and away from sunlight.
Just like bananas, tomatoes should be kept on the counter until they’re ripe and ready to eat, and then transferred to the fridge. They lose their crunch and flavor pretty quickly, though, so try to eat them within a day or two of placing them in the fridge. When out on the counter, store them in an open basket. If they’re too close together then the tomatoes will bruise.
Yet again, avocados should be left out until they’re ripe, and then put in the fridge. To develop the right flavor and texture, they need to ripen at room temperature, but they will stay good and ripe for a few more days in the fridge.
Your standard ketchup has so much vinegar in it that it acts as a preservative and doesn’t need to be refrigerated! Even after you open the bottle, you can put it right back into the pantry. If you buy a “lower-sodium” ketchup, though, I would keep it in the fridge – just to be safe.
If you have some good, fresh berries from a Farmer’s Market, keep them on the counter and eat them quickly! They’ll maintain their best flavor if they stay at room temperature, but put them in the fridge if you’ll have them for more than a couple days. Be sure not to wash them until you’re ready to eat, because the water could make them mushy or moldy.
14. Hot Sauce and Soy Sauce
Hot sauce that is made with large amounts of vinegar and salt can be kept out for couple months, but place it in the fridge if you don’t go through hot sauce very quickly. Soy sauce is mostly salt, so the same goes! Mild bacteria can grow after a couple months, so the fridge is best for long-term storage.
15. Winter Squash
These hearty squashes will last for a whole month in the pantry, so don’t bother taking up space in the fridge!
This certainly isn’t a comprehensive list, but it should give you an idea of some of the pros and cons of deciding “to chill or not to chill” your food.
What else do you keep in the pantry?