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18 Foods You Don’t Need To Refrigerate

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18 Foods You Don’t Need To Refrigerate

Humans have been preserving food with snow and ice for at least 3,000 years, but the first commercial refrigerators, produced around the turn of the 20th Century, were a game-changer. Home refrigeration units made it possible for the first time in history to keep perishable foods fresh in quantity.

But every advance comes with a dark side. In the case of refrigerators, one downside is that many people store everything in the fridge, regardless of whether it needs to be.

While some foods absolutely require refrigeration, many don’t, and others that should be left at room temperature. Here’s a list of foods that do better if you skip the fridge:

  1. Tomatoes: If you take nothing else away from this article, please heed this. Never, ever, under any circumstances, store tomatoes in the refrigerator. Tomatoes begin to lose their flavor and texture when put in the fridge, turning mealy, mushy, and flavorless. Leave them right out on the counter.
  2. Potatoes, sweet potatoes: Yes, potatoes are supposed to be kept in a cool, dark place, so the fridge should be ideal, right? Wrong. The refrigerator is actually too cold. Low temperatures wreak havoc on potatoes’ natural starches, affecting both their texture and flavor. Instead, store them in a paper bag.
  3. Apples, Pears: You can refrigerate these fruits, but you don’t need to. The cold air inside the refrigerator tends to break down their crisp texture. Leave them out on the counter. But if you prefer your fruit cold, go ahead and refrigerate.
  4. Peaches, plums, cherries: Stone fruits should not be refrigerated. Store them out on the counter and enjoy them as soon as they’re ripe.
  5. Oranges, lemons, limes, clementines: Store citrus fruits on the counter. Keep close tabs on them, though, as one moldy fruit will spread.
  6. Berries: Fresh berries aren’t meant to last long. Leave them out and enjoy them over a few days.
  7. Melons: Store whole melons on the counter. The refrigerator will turn their flesh mealy. Once cut, leftovers can be stored in the fridge.
  8. Bananas: Refrigerating bananas will turn their peels prematurely brown and change their texture. Store them out on the counter and peel and freeze them for banana bread once they become overripe.
  9. Onions, garlic: Storing these pungent alliums in the refrigerator will not only impart their smell onto other foods, but will also soften them over time. Store them in a paper bag.
  10. Honey, jam, maple syrup: Honey and real maple syrup will crystallize if stored in the fridge. Store them it at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. While it’s fine to refrigerate jams and jellies, it’s also OK to leave them out after opening.
  11. Avocados: Store whole avocados on the counter. If they’re very soft, you can get a few extra days by putting them in the fridge, but you’ll pay for it in flavor. It’s better just to enjoy them right away.
  12. Bread: While many people refrigerate bread to keep it from going stale, doing so actually dries it out faster. Store it in a dark cupboard or bread box.
  13. Butter: There’s nothing worse than trying to spread rock hard butter. The good news is there’s no need. Depending on temperatures, you can store butter on the counter, covered, for a week or so. The best plan is to refrigerate butter and take it out one stick at a time. If the weather is very hot, you may opt for smaller quantities.
  14. Peppers: Store peppers in a paper bag. The refrigerator will soften their crisp texture.
  15. Winter squash: Store acorn, spaghetti, and butternut squash right out on the counter.
  16. Pickles: Pickles have enough sodium—a natural preservative—to keep them safe for a long time. The only reason to refrigerate them is if you prefer to enjoy them cold.
  17. Coffee: Refrigerating coffee beans or grounds saps them of moisture and flavor. Store them in the cupboard.

And here’s a puzzle for the ages:

18. Eggs — to refrigerate or not to refrigerate? In Europe, no one refrigerates eggs, but in North America we do. Does that mean we don’t need to? Turns out in the U.S. eggs are processed differently (we wash away the “bloom” – the microscopic protective layer on eggs). Here on the other side of the pond, if you buy supermarket eggs, it’s a good idea to refrigerate them, unless they’ve been boiled. Hard boiled eggs are safe to keep out on the counter for a few days.

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39 comments

1 David Lyons { 03.15.17 at 11:09 pm }

Aldi does not refrigerate any fruits and vegetables in their store, so I don’t either!

2 Judy { 09.15.16 at 1:53 pm }

My father rarely refrigerates anything, but when I took his jelly/jam out of the cupboard it was quite moldy. I will continue to refrigerate that.

3 Jeff { 09.06.16 at 2:05 pm }

Well, oh my God, people reading this wake up.
How in the world did our grandmothers and grandpas or great grandpa’s ever live to have us!
I’ve read several of these articles with list of 18,20, 15 foods you don’t need to refrigerate.
Not one yet mentioned the obvious. Ketchup, Mustard.
Sit back and just think for a minute, think of things we do today for what! Our grandparents are probably right now sitting back just laughing at all this propaganda mamarketing crap that’s brain washed everyone.
One of my duarghters thinks if it’s been sitting out on the counterfor an hour it needs to be thrown away.
People use you common sense that God gave you.
How did we all get here with out all this crap.

4 Bettie { 09.02.16 at 7:07 pm }

I get my eggs from an Egg Company who supplies a lot of local and distant grocers. The lady there said freshly laid eggs such as on a farm can be kept on counter BUT NOT eggs that have been Refrigerated as soon as gathered!! Such as those most of us buy from a grocery store. She said they should continue to be refrigerated until used and if a recipe says to use room temperature eggs leaving them out for a couple of hours is fine. BUT never stored anywhere but refrigerator.

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6 CATRYNA WHITE { 07.29.16 at 11:37 pm }

I agree on all counts except the bread. I suppose if we are talking about white bread in this article that would stand to reason. But any bread that is made of whole grains should be refrigerated or frozen to keep it from molding.

7 Anita { 05.16.16 at 2:18 pm }

Thank you, lived in NE Okla. all my life, moved to NE Tx. Panhandle! Had a lot of questions I needed answers for, most people have lived in this town all their lives & their ways are different from mine! I had major gardeners in my family & did their way for yrs, that’s who I learned from!

8 Dorothy { 10.14.15 at 8:30 pm }

Totally agree about bananas. Also if you separate them from the bunch they ripen slower.

9 Jasper { 10.13.15 at 8:59 pm }

I store salt, brown biscuits, trifle and hairloom tomaeto in the frigirator

10 Wayne { 10.13.15 at 6:38 pm }

Mr. McLeod, I agree that the items you mentioned don’t need to be refrigerated, but I do refrigerate many of them because doing so, gives them longer self life, if I may, and without losing any value to taste or nurturance value. For example , potatoes. apples, onions and yes bananas. Before I state my case (always keep these items in the lower section of the refrigerator for best results) with bananas first. When I shop for bananas, I look for those that have some green skin on to keep refrigerated and if I plan to use any the same day or next 2 or 3, I buy the riper ones. Those I don’t plan to use, I leave them in the plastic bag they came in. I have had bananas last up to 4 and 5 weeks and not spoil. For those that have never tried this before, expect the peel to turn brown and the banana well still to be ripe. This is a learning process. Now for potatoes, apples and onions. I have apples in my refrigerator right now that are over 6 months now and are still good, Granny Smiths. (This may not apply to different types of apples). Apples, Potatoes and onions kept in the refrigerator will last longer. The area I lived in up north, many farmers grow thousands of acres of these crops each year and to keep them from rotting, they keep them in cellars, I’m talking huge cellars, that remain a temperature of 55 degrees year long. I have bought these items that were stored as long as a year that have been harvested and noticed no difference. Many of the other items Mr.McLeod mentioned can always be frozen and are just as good as the day you bought them. Many crops such as fruits and veggies can last longer in the refrigerator or freezer.

11 Iris { 10.13.15 at 12:29 pm }

I am from Germany and we always refrigerate the eggs. I haven’t seen it otherwise.

12 Doug { 10.13.15 at 10:33 am }

My rule of thumb is to see what the grocery stores do with perishables, if they refrigerate then I do, if they don’t, I don’t.

13 Eve { 10.13.15 at 10:16 am }

Growing up we never refrigerated butter,ketchup, mustard, eggs (just wipe off) fresh vegetables or potatoes. My husband thought they all needed to be in the frig. Real maple Syrup does last longer if refrigerated or frozen if you don’t use it up quickly.

14 Val { 10.13.15 at 10:14 am }

How about bacon fat? My mom and grandma never refrigerated bacon fat. I have been bc I probably don’t use it as fast as they did.

15 Sandy { 10.13.15 at 9:20 am }

If eggs are fresh from the hen and have not been washed they do not need to be refrigerated. Washing them removes a protective coating which makes them susseptible to bacteria/spoilage.

16 Sharon { 08.16.15 at 10:28 am }

I freeze eggs in the shell in the carton.They always get a hairline crack along one side but do not leak out when thawed because the white Film does not crack.They taste just as good as eggs not frozen when thawed and fried.The yellow is not runny but taste good.

17 dilyspr { 06.22.15 at 1:15 pm }

Thank you so much for this info!!! I cannot stand the taste of most foods after they have been in the frig. A friend of mine is ALWAYS putting my jar of peanut butter in the frig! Will show him this article….lol. My grandmother always had fresh foods on her countertop…in a wire basket or handmade basket. Fresh butter was always in a covered dish too. I didn’t know about storing mustard or hot sauce in the cupboard. Again, thank you for this insightful article and comments. Dianne in Ohio

18 dddnga { 06.12.15 at 3:24 pm }

Fresh eggs are laid with a natural bloom on them…no need to refrigerate for a few mts unless you wash them. Europe does not wash their eggs.

19 Sharon { 03.20.15 at 10:42 am }

I have never refrigerated ketchup or syrup, never thought about mustard. Also have been using butter stored in a butter dish on my kitchen counter for almost 40 years. Using 1 stick at a time. Never refrigerate bananas!!!! I have found that if I store them in one of the green store produce bags and closed tightly the bananas will last a little longer.

20 Sharon { 03.20.15 at 10:36 am }

Eggs wiped with mineral oil DO last for 6m to a year! My sister-in-law and I tested this with her fresh eggs – 1 dz wiped with mineral oil – 2m cracked 2 they were fine – 4m cracked 3 they were fine – 9m cracked 4 and they were fine – 12m cracked last 3 1 bad and 2 good!!!! YES it works.

21 Philip Senko { 03.02.15 at 1:38 am }

Love your websites.

22 Yvonne { 03.01.15 at 8:54 am }

ABOUT THE EGG I THINK HAVING YOUR OWN IS GOOD .WE DONT HAVE 500 IN ONE BARN WE HAVE 12 OR LESS AND CHICKEN ARE OUTDOORS SLEEP AND LAY EGG IN HEN HOUSE LESS POOP IN THERE LOL,LESS TIME FOR US TO CLEAN MAYBE THAT THE TRICK

23 anna { 02.26.15 at 10:56 pm }

they don’t put their eggs int he fridge in europe and it’s not due to the processing procedures. They love fresh eggs from the farm and would never keep those in the fridge either. So unless we are doing something to increase the risk of salmonila through our processing, this reasoning doesn’t make any sense…and if so, the processing procedure makes no sense.

24 Lynette { 02.26.15 at 8:55 pm }

the reason I believe that we refrigerate so much is because of ants, flies and our pets. Also room temperature as mentioned changes so rapidly you can have the heater on in the morning and the air on at night this all seems to risky to not keep cold.. Also, how do the Europeans process their eggs for less salmonella and the USA doesn’t?

25 Susan Higgins { 03.03.15 at 4:10 pm }

Hi Susan, it’s more because the skins turn an unsightly black. But it doesn’t change their flavor.

26 Susan { 02.26.15 at 2:27 pm }

I’ve never peeled bananas before putting them in the freezer. Is there a reason for doing so?

27 Steve East { 02.26.15 at 10:04 am }

I can tell you that storing potatoes and onions last three times longer in the fridge!

28 KC { 02.26.15 at 9:12 am }

EGGS:
If you wipe mineral oil on them, they will be shelf stable for 6 to 9 months. No need to refrigerate. Store at room temperature.

29 Nicole { 02.25.15 at 3:54 pm }

in the U.S. most store bought eggs are cleaned with 90 degree water and then sprayed with chems to put back a protective layer. If you raise your own all you need to do is wipe off the poop and feathers before storing. If you need to, you can wash them right before use.

30 Susan Higgins { 02.25.15 at 2:59 pm }

Hi Carla, you can do either, depending on where you live. Just be sure to cover in the warm weather to keep away from flies. Refrigerated cut tomatoes have a VERY short life.

31 Carla { 02.25.15 at 2:31 pm }

How about sliced tomatoes? I am the only one who eats tomatoes and sometimes in the summer I have one sliced left over, I stick it in the fridge for later or next day and instead of using it it goes in the trash. Is it okay to leave it out?

32 Charlene Leamons { 02.25.15 at 2:19 pm }

I recently purchased real maple syrup for the 1st time. The bottle said to refrigerate it after opening. Why would they say that if there is no need? Can I take it out of the fridge and place it into a cupboard now?

33 Susan Higgins { 02.25.15 at 3:01 pm }

Hi Trish, this part of the story is referring to commerical processing of eggs.

34 Trish { 02.25.15 at 2:03 pm }

HOW precisely does one “process” eggs? The hen lays it, it gets collected and if necessary,it gets rinsed to remove poop, dirt or feathers. I know this to be a fact as I own a flock of laying hens!

35 Linda { 02.25.15 at 1:38 pm }

I live in central Florida. Except for potatoes, squash and bananas, even with an air conditioned house, everything else mentioned in this article that I buy goes in the fridge. I could probably try leaving the coffee beans out.

36 Evangeline Williams { 02.25.15 at 12:07 pm }

I thought I needed a bigger refrigerator. What I will do is set aside a cabinet to put all that stuff.

37 ali { 02.25.15 at 11:32 am }

Haha, just took my maple syrup out of the fridge and put into cupboard (I always hated cold syrup on my pancakes). When storing tomatoes on counter, keep them away from bananas. I like keeping my lemons in the fridge as they seem to keep longer.

38 Genus { 02.25.15 at 10:45 am }

Here are 2 – natural peanut butter (peanuts w/wo salt) & hot sauce. I can’t stand it when I find hot sauce in the fridge!

39 Teresa { 02.25.15 at 8:59 am }

Here are two more to add to the list ketchup and mustard. There is no need to refrigerate unless you like them cold.

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