31 kinds of food you should never ever keep in a refrigerator

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When it comes to organizing the fridge, it can be hard to know how to put all the different food in the right places without getting cross contamination. Wouldn’t it just be easier if all food could live in the cupboard without the worry? With raw meats having to be kept away from vegetables, and milk now apparently being best stored at the back of the fridge rather than the door it begins to get somewhat complicated as to where things are meant to go. Plus with nearly 40,000 supermarket stores in the U.S., and more than $5 trillion being spent a year there is a huge market for selling food for the home in America.


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Unfortunately, with all the food that gets sold comes a lot of food waste. This includes over 38 million tons of produce that gets thrown in the garbage (the equivalent to a football stadium of waste in one day) which costs the U.S. over $165 billion a year to deal with the issue. The waste doesn’t just come from supermarkets binning perfectly good food either. The collection is added to daily by households that have too much food or food that has gone past its expiry date and ends up heading straight for the bin. To change this many stores have started to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle to avoid having to throw so much of their produce away.

However, they can’t do this alone and need our help at home to combat the growing problem. One way in which we can help to tackle the issue of waste is to store our food correctly at home. A lot of us unknowingly store our food in the wrong places meaning we end up wasting perfectly good produce with it not being good enough for consumption anymore. We are here to help combat the issue though with some surprising and unexpected foods that you can very easily keep out of the refrigerator. Not only does this free up room for anything that needs to be in there, but it also helps give you space to organize the food safely, as well as prevent destroying produce you have bought. Win-win all round!

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Eggs

No one would think any less of you if you admit to keeping your eggs in the fridge as the debate has been ongoing to find the best place to store them. The answer has finally been discovered though, and the answer is at room temperature. Some studies have proven how keeping eggs cool alters their natural flavor that won’t be affected if they are kept outside. A countertop away from direct heat is the answer after all to where they need to be stored.

Unopened yogurt

Yogurt is a versatile food that can be used for any meal time. Its versatility makes it a popular addition to the weekly shop where many people return home and pop it in the fridge. Even though yogurt is a dairy product it doesn’t work the same as milk or cream as yogurt is made using bacteria. As long as it hasn’t been opened, yogurt can survive happily in warmer temperatures as nothing can contaminate the food, but be sure to refrigerate once opened.

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Tomatoes

You wouldn’t be the first to put tomatoes in the fridge thinking they need to be kept cool. However, being kept in a bowl on the countertop is where this fruit (yes, fruit!) thrives best. The cold temperatures of the fridge mean that they can’t ripen correctly, and if they can’t ripen they won’t get any more delicious flavor. The fridge will also alter the texture inside the tomato by breaking down the structure of the walls inside the fruit.

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Citrus fruits

Lemons, oranges, and limes all have plenty of beneficial health benefits so maybe it’s time we start giving them the environment they need to provide us with all that goodness. Keeping any member of this family in the fridge can cause them to get chill damage which can lead them to decay quickly, as well as lose their taste and health benefits. The fruits are best kept on counters in a fruit bowl so they can naturally continue ripening until perfectly fresh and ready to eat.

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Chocolate

Chocolate, especially in warmer climates, is not unusually found in the fridge. Even though people that store their chocolate here aren’t doing any harm, its taste can be altered by the cold temperatures. Also, a lot of chocolates don’t need to be stored in a refrigerator. Making sure that they are kept out of direct sunlight, and somewhere that doesn’t reach excessive temperatures means chocolate can survive well outside of the fridge. If your bar does melt, though, it can be popped in there to solidify it again.

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Bread

Having enough bread to see the family through the week can always be a tough decision, especially if someone wants a midnight snack. So where is it best to give the bread the best chance? Inside the fridge, bread will dry out a lot quicker, as well as become stale, chewy and tough, even if it’s been used to make a sandwich for later. Keeping the loaf on a countertop out of direct sunlight gives it the best conditions to last longer.

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Ketchup

The red sauce is another food on the list that has brought up many discussions over whether to fridge or not to fridge. Ketchup can, in fact, remain perfectly edible for years if it is kept in a cupboard. Ketchup contains may preservatives to help keep it lasting so long and to give it the taste we know and love, which means it no longer needs to take up precious shelf space inside the fridge. Contrary to popular belief, it can also be stored at room temperature after being opened too.

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Avocado

The ‘good fat’ avocado craze is still in full swing, and for a new avocado enthusiast, it can be a tough decision as to where to store them. Most avocados sold in stores won’t be fully ripe so need time on a countertop to reach maturity. Being subject to the low temperatures of the fridge means they won’t be able to ripen correctly. However, the exception is if your avocado is ripe enough but you aren’t planning on using it, popping it in the fridge will prolong its shelf life.

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Melons

Melons are brilliant for helping maintain a regular blood pressure, as well as helping keep skin healthy making these fruits a perfect addition to your diet. However, where does one store them? Well, before you cut them up they are best left out of the fridge. The melons will happily live anywhere out of direct sunlight, so they don’t lose any of their goodness from the cold. However, if you have sliced your melon up then covering it up and placing it in the fridge is a good idea.

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UHT cow milk

Regular cow’s milk and UHT milk are two very different things. The UHT milk has been pasteurized at high temperatures which kills a huge number of bacteria in the process. This means this milk has easily five times the shelf life of traditional milk. UHT milk can last as long as six months when stored in a dark cupboard if it hasn’t been opened. Don’t forget to store in the fridge once you have opened it though.

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Pumpkin

Pumpkins have some incredible health benefits, including helping to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and improving sleep. While most of us are used to storing our pumpkins on the front porch with a face carved into it, there are other storage options for the pumpkins destined for the dinner table. Keeping the fruit in a basement gives the best environment as it is dark, dry and cool. Plus, you would take up a lot of room if you managed to fit it in the fridge!

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Apples

This fruit is packed full of antioxidants that will help to keep the body healthy. Apples don’t have any harmful side effects if they are kept in the refrigerator, but they also don’t benefit from being in there either. Keeping apples cool only takes up space as they can last up to two weeks when kept in a fruit bowl at room temperature, but if you prefer your apples cold then, by all means, put them in the fridge. If you ask us, though, we can’t stand the teeth-tingling feeling of biting into a cold apple!

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Peanut butter

This sandwich filler is another healthy superstar as its popularity has grown phenomenally over the last few years. But where does this legend in its own right deserve to live? Peanut butter should be kept well away from the fridge as the conditions make it dry out and go hard – eww. In fact, the best place to store your jar is in a cupboard as it is cool, dry, and dark which are the perfect conditions to keep this spread smooth and ready to be used.

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Salad dressing

This may seem like a very odd inclusion to the list, but hear us out. Almost all salad dressings contain high vinegar and oil levels which are best to keep out of the refrigerator. Both oil and vinegar are natural preservatives anyway, so there is no need to refrigerate them. Keeping them in the fridge could cause a bad smell which no one wants before food time. However, be careful if your salad dressing has a yogurt or mayonnaise base as these do need to be refrigerated to stay fresh.

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Onions

Onions are another vegetable that should be kept out of the coldness of the fridge. They should be kept naked somewhere they can have maximum airflow as the conditions in the refrigerator will actually shorten their shelf life by making them go soft and moldy. However, if you have peeled the onion, then it is advised to place the leftovers into a container with a lid which should then be stored in the fridge. So, unpeeled go outside, peeled go inside.

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Donuts

Glazed, iced, or plain. Donuts come in many shapes, sizes, and flavors all of which are delicious! They can, however, cause a dilemma when it comes to resisting the rest of the box. If kept in the fridge these rings of perfection will turn soggy and sticky due to the build-up of moisture. They can safely be stored in a dry and cool environment, such as a pantry, where they will last for a few days if you can resist them.

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Potatoes

The vegetable that causes the great debate of whether to call it a vegetable or not has some specifics as to where it should be kept. The spuds require somewhere dark, dry, and cool to live (potentially an ensuite and walk-in wardrobe too if they’re lucky) but this location should not be found inside the fridge. Being inside there actually encourages the starch inside the potatoes to turn into sugar at a quicker rate, so the best place for these is in a cardboard box that is well ventilated.

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Aged cheese

A lot of people keep all cheese in the fridge because of the dairy content. This isn’t a wrong assumption to make, but when it comes to aged cheeses, such as Gruyere, Gouda, and Cheddar, they can all be kept well wrapped in a dry, cool, and dark place rather than being chilled. It is because of the curation process that the cheeses are put through that means they don’t need to be kept cold, which would, in fact, cause the cheeses to go hard and dry out.

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Cucumber

This vegetable is a popular option for a salad bulker or a quick snack between meals. Annoyingly though when pulled out of the fridge it has often started to decay or wrinkle up even though it is only a few days old. This is because being kept at a cold temperature means the cucumber’s decaying process is sped up. Keeping it in a dry environment at room temperature is the best way to keep it fresh, but, unfortunately, it only has a short shelf life anyway.

Garlic

Garlic is actually a cousin of the onion family so may not be a surprise that they enjoy similar living conditions. If garlic is stored in the fridge, it will actually start to sprout meaning it is unusable, as well as getting a rubbery texture or going moldy too. It is also hard to tell if garlic has spoiled if it’s been in the fridge because its appearance won’t change. This could lead to a disaster when cooking! Garlic and onions can share their storage space for best conditions.

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Carrots

A healthy box of carrot sticks as a snack, or using them as a side dish to dinner are great choices for using this root vegetable. Carrots will decay faster if kept in the fridge because of the high moisture content found inside. The carrots will also dry up quicker if kept at colder temperatures. The best place to store these vegetables is somewhere that’s dark and dry to keep them fresh and crunchy for longer.

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Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is often misplaced in the fridge because of people assuming the meat must be kept cold. This isn’t the case though as the moisture from this favorite snack has already been removed which means it can survive on the shelf for years. Keeping this in the fridge will have no effect other than giving you cold beef jerky, but be careful as some brands nowadays do suggest you keep them in the refrigerator once the packet is opened.

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Bananas

High in potassium, and rich in fiber, bananas are an excellent fruit that tastes just oh so good. However, there is often a dilemma of whether they should be kept in the fridge or out in the fruit bowl. When it comes to this yellow fruit the best place to keep them is on a countertop to allow them to ripen thoroughly before eating. The low temperatures will slow down maturation, but the dark and damp atmosphere inside the fridge will encourage it to rot.

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Peppers

Both peppers and their cousins chili peppers can be kept outside of the fridge to save space. A lot of people believe that keeping them cool will preserve the vegetable, but they would, in fact, be mistaken if they did. Regardless of whether you are buying super spicy or mild chilies or any color of pepper, keeping them in the fridge will just cause them to lose their color. They are all best kept somewhere that’s dry and relatively cool, such as a cupboard.

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Jam

The jelly of the PB and J is often thought to need to be stored in the refrigerator like many items on this list. Jam, in fact, contains a ton of preservatives to help it have such a long shelf life which meant that it could remain safe and edible outside of the fridge for many months, especially if it’s unopened. You should be careful to make sure that nothing else contaminates the jar as that is what can cause the contents to perish quickly.

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Pears

Pears are similar to many other fruits with their ripening ways. They don’t, in fact, ripen while in their trees, but instead when they are picked. Pears in the fridge means that they don’t ripen properly so should be kept at room temperature to ensure they reach maturity adequately. Once the fruit is fully ripe, it can be put into the fridge to prolong its consumable life, but only if it isn’t going to be eaten any time soon.

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Butter

This product is controversial when it comes to where to store it. Butter with high water content is what attracts bacteria to grow. However, most modern butter contains high salt content as well as being made with milk that has been pasteurized which means bacteria is a lot less likely to grow. Butter can easily last a week out of the fridge, but ultimately the choice is down to personal preference when it comes to storage.

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Eggplant

Eggplants are an underrated vegetable, but make a fantastic addition to any meal as a side or a main component. A lot of eggplant lovers are unsure of where to keep them, but the fridge is definitely not the best place. When exposed to the cold temperatures the vegetable will instantly begin to lose its texture and delicious flavors. They should be kept at room temperature and out of sunlight, but also away from other fruits and veggies as the others can cause eggplants to ripen too quickly.

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Salami

Salami is often used by people traveling, such as hikers, that don’t have access to a refrigerator because of how long it will last. Now we know this, do we think it will need to go into the fridge? As you may have guessed, this meat can be kept in a pantry or cupboard for months – even years – before it can’t be consumed. However, it is recommended to eat the salami within six weeks of purchasing to ensure it is as fresh as possible.

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Pineapples

This spiky fruit is different to most other fruits as it won’t ripen after it has been harvested. This means it had a very short shelf life that will only last a few days which means it is essential to use the pineapple shortly after purchasing. In the fridge, the decaying process will speed up if it is still whole, but once cut up it is recommended to put the chunks in an airtight container which should be stored in the fridge.

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