When it comes to putting away the groceries, many of us stick whatever we can fit into the fridge in hopes that it will last longer. However, some foods actually end up going bad more quickly when they're not stored at room temperature, so it's important to know what foods you should never refrigerate. If you want to keep your produce tasting its best, you may want to double check whether it should be stored in the vegetable drawer or kept out on your kitchen counter instead.
You might think that refrigerating everything would preserve all types of food, but some food isn't ready to be stopped in its tracks, and you can blame the cold air for the refrigerator's detrimental effect. "The cold stops the ripening process, which is beneficial for certain fruits and vegetables, but not for others that are picked before they are ripe, such as avocados, melons, stone fruit, pears, etc.," says Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN over email. "These need the room temperature to ripen them."
Next time you're picking up your groceries, be sure to avoid refrigerating these six foods, which will help them not only last longer, but taste better as well.
"Uncut tomatoes get mealy in the fridge, and they lose their flavor," says Levinson. The cold of the fridge breaks down the membranes of the tomato's walls, changing its texture and diminishing its taste.
Onions should be stored in a cool, dry place, as the refrigerator moisture can soften your onions too quickly. "Uncut onions should be left on the counter," says Levinson. "The fridge can make them mushy."
Whether it's white, sweet, or purple, your potato should be left in a cool, dark place for optimal taste. "Cold air will turn the starch from potatoes into sugar more quickly and also make the flesh of the potato more mealy," says Levinson.
"To ripen, avocados should be kept on the counter," says Levinson. "Once ripe they can be kept in the fridge for a few days before they go bad." If you happened to buy your avocado mushy, however, you may want to store it right away to prevent it from getting too ripe.
"When bread is kept in the refrigerator, the water that was absorbed during baking starts to evaporate (known as starch retrogradation), and the bread becomes stale," says Levinson. "It's best to leave fresh bread out if you are going to use it within a day or two, or put it in the freezer."
"Melons tend to get mealy in the refrigerator and could retain more antioxidant power on counter," says Levinson. Research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that keeping a watermelon in the refrigerator can lower its amount of antioxidants and other nutrients.
Refrigerating certain foods right away may not be the best idea, but if your food ever starts to turn brown or look a little mushy, it may be time to transfer it to the fridge. "In general, fruits and veggies should be refrigerated after cut," says Levinson.
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