Never Store These Foods in the Fridge

It may be second nature to stash everything in the fridge, but this stuff actually stays fresher—and more nutritious—at room temperature.

keep food fresh - Whole watermelon
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Whole melons

You’re not keeping whole melons fresh in the fridge, but you are robbing them of their nutritional value. 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. That said, once melons are sliced, they should be kept chilled to prevent bacterial growth.

keep food fresh - Basil on chopping board
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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.

Find out the best temperature to set your fridge (and everything else in your home)/

keep food fresh - Raw potatoes in sack
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Cold temperatures convert potato starch into sugar, which 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), and are best stored in a paper bag in a cool pantry. Sunlight causes chlorophyll to accumulate, turning potatoes green and sometimes bitter.

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keep food fresh - Onions in a basket
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Whole onions need air circulation to stay fresh. Store them 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 more fresh foods you should never store together.

keep food fresh - Red tomatoes on a vine
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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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keep food fresh - Coffee beans
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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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keep food fresh - Garlic cloves
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Garlic cloves fare best in temperatures between 15 to 18 degrees celsius. Put your bulbs in a ventilated container to allow for moisture, and stash it in a cool place.

Check out our ultimate guide to healthy grocery shopping.

Hot sauce bottles
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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.

Here’s how to organize your fridge to maximize freshness.

Sweet honey
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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 bread
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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.

Find out the most common mistakes people make when buying bread.

Assorted nuts
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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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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.

Brush up on the impressive health benefits of avocado.

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Stone fruits

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

Find out which fruits and vegetables you should never peel.

Extra virgin olive oil being poured
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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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Cucumbers should come out of the fridge. The common mistake of keeping them in the fridge leads to watery and pitted cukes.

Here’s what makes cucumbers bitter (and how to fix it).

Red, green and yellow bell pepper
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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.

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Pickles in mason jar
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It’s not a big dill (pun intended!) to keep your sealed 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 10 pantry essentials you should never be without.

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

Learn the surprising ways you’re shortening the life of your refrigerator.

Grilled eggplant
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If you’re eating eggplant a few days after purchase, it’s okay 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.

Next, find out the expiration dates you should never ignore.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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