Stop Right There: 20 Foods We're Putting In The Fridge That We Never Should

Most of us assume that the fridge is the perfect place to put... well... everything. After all, that cool temperature helps keep food fresh for longer, which is exactly what you want, right? Well, not exactly. It turns out, certain foods actually don't do very well in the fridge for a variety of reasons. For some foods, being in the fridge may actually cause them to go bad faster or changes the food in a way that makes it far less appetizing. And for other foods, being in the fridge is just entirely unnecessary—they do just fine on your counter or in the pantry.

This might be great news for those of us that have a fridge that's absolutely packed with no room to put anything else inside. After all, if you're filling your fridge with stuff that really shouldn't be in there, of course, you won't have any room! All those items are taking up the space that items truly requiring refrigeration need. Plus, an overstuffed fridge has to work harder to circulate all that cold air—it's much better if you can actually reach in and find things without having to empty half the fridge and put the items back in.

From fruits to vegetables and everything in between, here are 20 foods you're putting in the fridge that you really shouldn't be. The fridge is an essential part of every kitchen, but that doesn't mean it needs to be the default storage option for every item you bring into the kitchen.

20 Hot Sauce

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Most people have an assortment of condiments and sauces in the door of their fridge, so chances are, if you're a hot sauce fan, you just stick your variety of hot sauces there as well. It turns out, you really don't need to. The vinegar and the preservatives that are found in most hot sauces actually help prevent the hot sauce from spoiling. And, it turns out, by keeping the hot sauce in the fridge, you could be dulling the flavor of some of the peppers within the sauce, which means your spicy kick will have a bit less of a kick.

19 Pumpkin

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Pumpkins are a fantastic source of nutrients, and they're super plentiful during the fall when they're in season. So, in addition to carving one up for your front porch, why not enjoy a few dishes incorporating pumpkin? However, if you have extra pumpkin, even though the fridge may seem like the best place to store it, the cold temperature will actually damage the pumpkin. You want to keep it at room temperature even though that may seem a little bit strange. Just think of it this way—when you carve a pumpkin, it usually lasts for quite a while—so, the pumpkin you're planning to eat can be treated the same way.

18 Onions

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Okay, here's the thing with onions—once you've cut them up, you should be keeping them in the refrigerator. However, before you use them, you should be keeping them out of the cold, because the humidity found in a refrigerator can turn them a little bit mushy and even moldy. Look at onions like you'd look at other root vegetables—they want to live somewhere cool and dry, like your pantry, so that's exactly where you should keep them. They'll stay fresh for longer, and you won't have to worry about them taking up precious space in the vegetable drawer.

17 Nuts

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If you've been storing your nuts in the freezer because you figured the colder temperature would help preserve the natural oils in the nuts, well, you're on the right track there. However, the colder environment of the fridge can actually affect the taste of the nuts, making them far less flavorful, and nuts that come in shells can potentially absorb the other odors hanging out in the fridge—which is definitely not what you want. You should store your nuts in an airtight container in the pantry, and simply don't buy huge amounts at once to prevent them from going rancid.

16 Tomatoes

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Many people automatically toss tomatoes in the vegetable crisper with the rest of the veggies they purchased, but that's a definite mistake. Not only do tomatoes not need to be refrigerated, but getting them chilly will also actually damage them—it'll transform the flavor and texture, making them far less flavorful and giving them an undesirable mealy texture. Keep them on the counter, and if they end up getting too ripe too fast, simply use them to make tomato sauce or something like that. Just keep them out of the refrigerator, no matter what, because—let's be honest—no one likes mealy, flavorless tomatoes.

15 Coffee Beans

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It's a bit of a myth that coffee beans should be stored in the fridge in order to keep them fresh for longer. In fact, the humidity present in the fridge can potentially cause some condensation in your coffee beans, which is harmful to both ground and whole bean coffee—so, no matter which type you use, you should keep it out of the fridge. Plus, you don't want your coffee to absorb any fridge smells. In order to preserve the flavor as much as possible, keep the grounds or beans in an airtight, opaque container in the pantry, and you'll be sipping the perfect brew every morning.

14 Honey

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If you've ever taken your honey out of the fridge and been frustrated at how impossible it is to use when it's cold, here's some good news—you shouldn't actually be keeping it in the fridge. First of all, when it's cold, it's way harder to work with, and it'll become near impossible to get it out of the container. And second, when honey gets chilled, it has the potential to actually crystallize, which means your perfectly smooth sweetener will all of a sudden have undesirable crystallized chunks in it. Yuck. Keep it out of the fridge, and just have it at room temperature in the pantry.

13 Potatoes

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Potatoes are one of the best staples you can have in your kitchen—they can be transformed in so many ways, and if stored properly, they can last for weeks. However, there's a lot to consider when it comes to potato storage. Keeping them in the fridge is a definite no-no—chilly temperatures can actually transform some of the starch in the tubers into sugars, which has an impact on both their flavor and the way they cook. And warmer temperatures may encourage them to sprout and spoil a bit faster. For potatoes, you need to find a sweet spot—not too hot, not too cold, just a cool, dark spot where they can hang out until you need them.

12 Aged Cheese

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It seems absolutely insane to store cheese anywhere besides the fridge. After all, cheese has dairy, and dairy gets super funky if left at room temperature, right? Well, not exactly. While you should refrigerate the majority of your cheese, like your mozzarella and cheddar and ricotta, if you've bought aged cheese, you should keep that at room temperature. While you may want to treat it the same way you treat the rest of your cheese, aged cheese can actually become rock hard if placed in the fridge and just becomes an unusable block. If you're ever uncertain, just ask the person you're buying cheese from—the seller should know how to store it.

11 Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

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Nothing will really happen to your chocolate hazelnut spread if you keep it in the fridge, but you'll have a tough time actually using it. That's because the fat content in the spread hardens when it's chilled, which means your spread will go from smooth and spreadable to a solid mass of chocolate hazelnut deliciousness stuck in the jar. The amount of sugar in most chocolate hazelnut spreads pretty much acts as a preservative, which means you can easily just keep it in your pantry so that it's easily spreadable—although fair warning: that just makes it more tempting to sneak a scoop straight from the jar.

10 Apples

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While a cool, crisp apple sounds delicious, it turns out you actually shouldn't be storing them in the fridge. Because apples produce ethylene, if you end up sticking them in the fridge with a variety of other fruits and other vegetables, they'll cause everything else to ripen a little bit more quickly—which is certainly not what you want. There's nothing worse than buying a ton of beautiful fresh produce and having it go bad before you get the chance to enjoy it. Keep your apples in the fruit bowl with the rest of your fruits, and leave the vegetable drawer in the fridge for other items.

9 Bread

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Bread is one of those food items that often go bad fairly quickly, especially if you live alone—it's tough to get through a whole loaf unless you're eating multiple sandwiches a day or a ton of toast! However, one thing you should never do is stick your bread in the fridge to help preserve it. It may keep it fresh longer, but the refrigerator can actually dry out bread, changing the texture in a bad way. If you're truly not able to finish your loaf before it goes bad, opt to store it in the freezer instead—bread freezes quite well, and you can easily just take out a slice or two when you need it.

8 Basil

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While dried basil can still add some flavor to your dish, there's absolutely nothing better than fresh basil leaves taken right off the plant. If you're a foodie who loves to use fresh herbs, there's a good chance you've bought fresh basil at the grocery store time and time again. However, if you've been tossing it in the fridge with the rest of your greens, you're making a huge mistake. If basil is stored at too cool of a temperature, it'll simply wilt and turn black—not what you want at all. Keep it on the counter, and store it almost like you'd store flowers, with the stems of the basil submerged in some water to help the leaves stay fresh.

7 Cucumbers

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Most of us have heard the phrase 'cool as a cucumber,' so, chances are, you figured you were supposed to store cucumbers in the fridge, right? After all, there's an entire saying devoted to it! However, it turns out, while you should strive to be cool and calm yourself, you shouldn't actually stick your cucumbers in the fridge. While chilled cucumbers might feel good as slices pressed atop your puffy eyes, when it comes to eating them, chilled cucumbers have a tendency to become way more watery and a bit mealy, just like tomatoes. So, unless you're using your cucumbers for beauty treatments, store them at room temperature.

6 Bell Peppers

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A lot of vegetables with high water contents simply do better at room temperature than when they're chilled, including peppers. When bell peppers are stored in the fridge, they have a tendency to get a little bit mushy and lose some of their crunch—and the crunch is half the fun of these sweet veggies! While it may be tempting to store them with the rest of your prepared veggies, like the celery sticks and carrots, you should be keeping them separate in a slightly warmer spot. It may seem strange at first, but you'll be enjoying flavorful, crisp bell peppers that way.

5 Molasses

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Chances are, you bought a fresh container of molasses for the holiday season when you were whipping up some gingerbread treats. And once you were done, you just stuck it in the fridge because that's where everything goes, right? Well, it turns out, you should probably keep it in the pantry rather than the fridge—because of how thick it is at room temperature, if you refrigerate molasses and get it chilled, it basically transforms from a thick liquid to a solid and becomes impossible to use. It doesn't spoil very quickly, so just keep it in your pantry and give it a good sniff test before you use it next.

4 Melons

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Okay, once a melon has been cut, you should keep it in the refrigerator. However, if you've just brought it home from the grocery store or the farmers' market, don't automatically stick it in the fridge—when chilled, you lose a lot of the flavor in the melons. And some research has found that the antioxidants actually remain more intact if the melons are at room temperature, and you definitely want all the health-promoting antioxidants you can get! So, you don't have to worry about finding room for an entire watermelon in your fridge—you can keep it at room temperature until you're ready to cut it up.

3 Unripe Bananas

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Anyone who's ever taken a banana out of the freezer knows that chilling these fruits has an impact on ripeness levels and color. So, if you bring home some unripe bananas from the store, the last place you should put them is in the fridge. The chilly temperature actually stops the ripening process, which means you'll have green bananas that are pretty much inedible for days and days. If you keep the bananas at room temperature, they'll ripen nicely and be ready to eat in no time. Bananas freeze really well, so if you find that they're going bad before you can eat them, simply keep them in the freezer instead.

2 Chocolate

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Some people genuinely enjoy the taste of chocolate bars or candy bars when they're a bit chilled, and if that's your jam, hey—to each their own. However, if you want to get the best out of your chocolate, you probably shouldn't be sticking it in the fridge. Chilling the chocolate can actually negatively impact the taste and texture of your sweet treat, so if you're looking to enjoy it exactly as the chocolatier would have wanted, you should just keep the bar at room temperature until you're ready to eat it. Chocolate doesn't go bad very quickly, so you can just store it in your pantry for quite some time.

1 Ground Spices

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Most people have a spice drawer or cabinet where they store a lot of their cooking spices. However, if you've been keeping them in the fridge because you assumed it would keep them fresh longer, you should pull those spices out of there—it doesn't help. When your ground spices are chilled, they lose their flavor, and the humidity in the fridge can cause them to clump together. You don't want to keep your spices around for a decade, but most spices can last at least a year in a dry place, so there's just no need to keep them in the fridge.

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