Food Items That Should Not Be In Your Fridge

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By: Lauren Wurth | Published: Dec 12, 2022

While cold storage is critical when preserving food products, there are instances when cold air may negatively affect particular kinds of produce. 

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Some grocery items do not need to be refrigerated. Below is a list of items that must not be exposed to cold air. Read on and prepare to be surprised. You might be guilty of keeping these in the refrigerator—if so, make sure you take these out.

Don’t put avocados in the fridge 

Placing avocados in the refrigerator will cause their natural ripening process to stop. In fact, avocados will not ripen at all if they are exposed to cold temperatures.

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The best way to ripen them is to place them inside a brown bag along with apples and bananas. These fruits release ethylene gas—a natural chemical that makes avocados ripen a lot quicker.

Keep garlic in the open

Though garlic should be placed inside a dark, cool area, it must not be kept inside a refrigerator. It can be placed inside a pantry or a ventilated container. But putting them in an airtight container might cause them to mold.

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Also, make sure to use all garlic cloves within ten days from when the head of garlic is broken. Cloves from unbroken garlic can be used for a few months. 

Keep Olive oil out of the fridge 

Never place olive oil inside a refrigerator! The cold temperature will irreparably alter its flavor. If you have olive oil in your fridge, just take it out.

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The best place to store olive oil is in a dark cupboard. Even an opened olive oil bottle can be stored for one year, while unopened ones can last for two years.

Keep bananas away from cold storage

The reason avocados should not be stored in the refrigerator is the same as why bananas must also be kept out of the fridge—the cold temperature will halt the fruit’s ripening process and make them soft and mushy.

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The only time bananas can be refrigerated is when they are already ripe, as the cool air will stop them from ripening even more.

Citrus fruits need no refrigeration

Just like many other types, there is no need to refrigerate citrus fruits. Their thick skin naturally prevents them from going bad early. The cool temperatures in your refrigerator can dry citrus fruits out.

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You should also keep in mind that you will have about a week before your citrus fruits start to go bad. If you really need to extend their life and keep them fresh for longer, you can put them in the fridge—briefly.

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Tomatoes do not belong in the fridge

There’s a good reason for keeping tomatoes out of your fridge. Research shows that when certain fruits are exposed to cold temperatures, their flavor-enhancing cells are destroyed.

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Tomatoes are best kept at room temperature and away from direct sunlight. But once tomatoes are cut open, then—and only then—should tomatoes be placed inside the fridge.

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Potatoes? In the fridge? No, thank you

If you do not want potatoes to be turned into sugar, never keep them in the refrigerator. The best way to preserve them is to keep them away from high temperatures and leave them in a dark place.

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Storing them in a dry paper bag while not exposing them to direct sunlight is a must. Otherwise, chlorophyll will develop, making them green and taste bitter.

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Keep cucumbers away from the refrigerator 

Believe it or not, cucumbers are tastier when they are kept at room temperature. Once they are placed in the fridge, they become watery and prune-like.

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The best way to store cucumbers is by placing them in the pantry. Just make sure they are not placed near apples and bananas because they can decrease a cucumber’s life expectancy.

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Coffee

All coffee experts say the same things: do not put your coffee or coffee beans in a refrigerator. Your fridge is a very humid place that can make your coffee less aromatic and completely tasteless.

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Instead, it is recommended to put coffee in an airtight container and store it in the pantry at room temperature. Make sure that the place is dark and there is no direct sunlight.

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Honey

Another product that should never be in your refrigerator is honey. It is known for its properties to crystalize and size up in cold temperatures. Therefore, if you put it in a fridge, it can turn into a sugary, clumpy mess.

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According to experts and numerous studies, the best place for storing honey is a pantry, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.

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Eggplants

If you bought an eggplant, and you are not planning to eat or cook it within a few days of purchasing it, it is better not to refrigerate it. Just find a cool place with no direct sunlight and leave it there.

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Eggplants are also very sensitive to ethylene gases that are produced by some fruits, including apples and bananas, so it is better to keep your eggplants away from them as well.

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Peppers

Unless you want your peppers to become mushy quickly, do not refrigerate them. Peppers can easily last several days on your kitchen counter.

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However, it is only true if a pepper remains uncut. If you cut it into pieces and want to keep it for using or eating later, then you should put it in a plastic container and leave it in the fridge.

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Pickles

Due to their contents, most pickles do not need to be refrigerated. However, if you bought pickles in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, it is better to store them in your own fridge.

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In general, all pickles have enough vinegar and salt in them to help ward off harmful microorganisms and bacteria. Therefore, even kept at room temperature, your pickles will stay good for a long period of time.

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Chocolate

There are many people who prefer keeping chocolate refrigerated. However, they may not know that the cool air in the fridge can actually damage chocolate’s taste and texture.

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Therefore, for maximum flavor, it is better to keep chocolate and chocolate candies in a dark and dry place, such as a pantry or cupboard.

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Nuts

A refrigerator is definitely not the right place for nuts. Cool temperatures in your fridge can make their nutty flavor too smooth. There is not enough moisture in nuts to cause rapid bacterial growth. Therefore, they can be safely stored at room temperature.

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The best way to store them is to put them in an airtight container and keep them in a dark place, like your pantry for example. In general, nuts can be stored without refrigeration for up to three months.

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Bread

It is never a good idea to keep bread refrigerated. A refrigerator will make your bread dry and rapidly cause it to become stale. So if you want to keep your bread fresh and soft as long as possible, it is better to keep it at room temperature. If the bread is pre-sliced, it will stay fresh for a week.

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If you have too much and you know you will not be able to eat all of it, you can always freeze it. That way you will always have bread on hand, and you will not have to worry about the bread going bad.

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Basil

Many people think, for some reason, that keeping basil in a fridge will help it stay fresh. However, the truth is that the cool air in a fridge makes basil turn into a wilted brown mess.

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An interesting fact is that not all herbs are like that. Some of them do well in a refrigerator, including cilantro and parsley. Unfortunately, basil is not one of them.

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Melons

If you want melons, including watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe to maintain their great flavor, you should keep them at room temperature. Moreover, some researchers have found out that storing melons at room temperature helps keep their antioxidants intact.

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The only reason to put a melon into a refrigerator is if it is cut. In this case, you can cut pieces of the melon into a container and keep it in a fridge for 30 days.

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Apples

Since apples are an ethylene-producing fruit, keeping it in the refrigerator is one of the worst decisions you can make. It is even worse if you decide to keep apples alongside other vegetables and fruits because that will cause them to ripen too quickly.

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The best thing you can do is to keep apples on your kitchen counter for a week, and then, if you still have not eaten all the apples and want to extend their life, you can then try to put apples in your fridge.

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Squash

Squashes like cool, dry, and dark places more than a cool refrigerator. The perfect temperature for them is no more than 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Squashes can last up to a month on a counter or in such places like cupboards and pantries.

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Also, make sure that there is no sunlight around as that is not very good for vegetables either. It can expedite the ripening process, making the life of your squash much shorter if left near the sun.

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Stone Fruits

Stone fruits include nectarines, plums, apricots, and peaches. Just like many other fruits, they do not like being refrigerated. Unless you are not planning to eat them right away, it is better to leave them on a kitchen counter and eat them within a couple of days.

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If stone fruits are left to ripen in a refrigerator, then the ripening process may get stopped, and you will receive completely flavorless fruits.

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Butter

Believe it or not, but you can actually leave the butter out of the fridge. And after trying it at least once, you will understand why. Room-temperature butter is soft, smooth, and spreads on bread like heaven on earth. Wouldn’t you want that?

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However, there are still some things you need to remember. First, butter should also be left covered. Second, make sure that there is no direct sunlight – otherwise, the butter will just melt and cause an unwanted mess. You should also take your climate into consideration. If you live in a hot climate, it may be impossible to store butter out of a refrigerator.

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Peanut Butter

If you keep peanut butter in a fridge, it will become hard if not impossible to spread. Moreover, it will get very dry, and its taste will be affected. That’s probably not what you want. Therefore, there is no need to keep peanut butter refrigerated.

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There is one exception though – natural peanut butter. Most brands of natural peanut butter recommend storing it in a refrigerator because the natural ingredients in the butter can separate and the butter may go rancid very quickly.

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Vinegar

Vinegar is one of those food items that can preserve itself. For this reason, it has an indefinite shelf life. That is why you should not keep it in a refrigerator. Instead, store in a dark, cool, dry place like your pantry or cupboard. However, this is true only about plain vinegar.

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For other condiments, such as vinaigrettes that include garlic, onion, herbs, or other ingredients, refrigeration may be required.

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Aged Cheese

If you are a cheese expert, you probably know that hard and aged cheeses should never be stored in a refrigerator. Yes, cheese is a dairy product, and most dairy products need to be refrigerated, but aged cheese is an exception. If you leave aged cheese in a fridge, it will become hard like a rock.

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The thing about aged cheeses is that they went through a special curing process. After this process is complete, you should not put it in a fridge. You can store it in a dark, dry, and cool place. However, remember that this is true only about hard, aged cheeses – other cheeses do require refrigeration.

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Pumpkins

Do you ever have too many pumpkins left over from Halloween and you want to save them for later use? You can definitely do that. However, a refrigerator is not the right place for storing them.

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Instead, pumpkins need to be left to cure in the sunlight and then can be stored in a dry, well-ventilated, and dark location that is not colder than 50℉. If you put them in a fridge instead, they may turn faster than you need.

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Spices

What is worse than spices that are clumping together and losing their flavors? Unfortunately, this is what refrigeration does to dried spices. Many people do not know this, but ground spices can be kept in dark and dry places for years.

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To maximize their shelf life, you should also keep your spices from extreme heat. It is also recommended to check your spices regularly and do a clear out at least once a year.

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Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread

This much-loved sweet condiment, such as Nutella, is delicious on toast. However, if you keep it in a refrigerator, it becomes really hard to spread. Moreover, the chocolate flavor is also much more distinctive if the spread is stored in a dark and dry place at room temperature.

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The main reason why Nutella and other chocolate-hazelnut spreads do not require refrigeration is due to their sugar content that prevents bacteria growth. In addition, there is also the high-fat content that also serves as a preservative.

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Berries

Berries are among the most tricky products to store. If you do not know how to do it properly, berries get soggy and mold very quickly. Therefore, it is better not to refrigerate them, especially if you are going to eat or use them right after purchase.

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At room temperature, berries will remain juicy and firm. If you are not going to eat them any time soon, you can put them in a refrigerator, but you should make sure that they are stored in an air-tight container. This applies to any type of berries, including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and others.

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Ketchup

It is highly debated whether you should store ketchup in a refrigerator or cupboard. The main thing you should remember is that ketchup was sold years before refrigerators became common.

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Ketchup is known for its natural acidity that makes this product inhospitable for microorganisms and bacteria to grow in it. For this reason, you can definitely store it safely in your pantry. Moreover, it has been noticed that ketchup has a better and more intense flavor if stored at room temperature.

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Mustard

Mustard is one of those condiments that most people put in a fridge without even thinking. However, mustard does not need refrigeration. Just like in ketchup, there is a high acidity content in mustard, which makes this condiment self-preserving.

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You can keep your mustard either at room temperature or chilled – it is up to you. However, if you still decide to refrigerate it, you should know that its flavor may be affected by cold temperatures.

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Cereal

Some people put their cereals in a refrigerator and by doing so, they damage their texture. There is a lot of humidity in a fridge, so if you put your cereal in a refrigerator, they will lose their crunch rather quickly.

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Moreover, cereal boxes occupy too much space in your refrigerator and you could free up quite a bit of room by keeping them out. It is better to store your cereals in a dark pantry at room temperature. It is also better to make sure that there is no direct sunlight.

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Hot Sauce

You may not know it, but hot sauce does not need refrigeration. Moreover, there are some hot sauces that will solidify if refrigerated, so you need to be very careful.

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The main reason why it is safe to keep your hot sauce out of the refrigerator is because it is made of strong ingredients, including vinegar, that prevent bacteria growth. Also, those hot sauces that are kept at room temperature taste better and have a more intense and distinctive flavor.

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Rice

In its dry grain form, rice does not require refrigeration. The best way to store rice is to put it in a container and place it in a dark and dry place. Your pantry or cupboard would be perfect for that.

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It is also recommended to put an oxygen absorbing packet in a container with your rice in order to ensure that it stays dry. However, remember that this is only helpful when rice is in its dried form. Once you cook it, it is better to keep it refrigerated. But you should also remember that cooked rice spoils very quickly.

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Dried Beans

Just like with rice, a refrigerator is not a good place for dried beans. They actually should not be kept in the plastic bags that they are often sold in, either. Plastic packaging makes dried beans susceptible to pests and moisture. For this reason, specialists recommend keeping beans in an air-tight container in a dark and dry place.

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The temperature in the dark place should not exceed 70℉. If beans are stored properly, they can last for years. However, most experts recommend cooking and eating them within a year after purchase because they tend to lose their flavor after a while.

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Soy Sauce

If you read labels on soy sauce bottles, you may notice that they state that the sauce should be refrigerated. However, restaurants leave soy sauce on tables all day. They would not do that if it was not safe.

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The truth is that soy sauce has a high sodium content, and sodium is a natural component that prevents soy sauce from spoiling. So if you want to store your soy sauce properly, store it in a cool place.

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Salad Dressings

There are some types of salad dressings that need to go back to a refrigerator after you open them. This includes creamy dressings such as thousand island or ranch. However, oil or vinegar-based salad dressings do not need to be stored in a refrigerator after opening.

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Instead, store these salad dressings in a cool and dry place in an air-tight container or its original packaging with the lid tightly screwed on. The best places for salad dressings would be a cupboard or pantry.

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Jam

There is much debate whether you should keep jam in a refrigerator or not. But here is the verdict: there is no need to put jam in a fridge even after opening it. The main reason for that is due to the jam’s sugar content. Sugar, as a natural preservative, prevents jam from spoiling.

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You can keep jam in your pantry or cupboard, but you need to make sure that the lid is tightly sealed and it is stored in a dark and cool place with minimum sunlight.

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Corn

Since corn is a vegetable, it does not belong in your fridge. It is fine to put corn in a refrigerator for a day or to slow down the chemical reaction. However, if you store corn in a fridge for a long time, its taste may be affected, and your corn may lose its natural sweetness.

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Moreover, refrigeration also dehydrates it, and the corn can become completely tasteless. Also, its texture may get rubbery, making it not taste fresh anymore.

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Pears

Pears are very delicate fruits, and refrigeration and cold air can damage their soft and delicate skin. For this reason, it is not recommended to keep them in a fridge. Moreover, the pear’s skin becomes devoid of any taste by making the fruit odorless.

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Therefore, if pears are not ripe, you should store them at room temperature until they become dark in color. Only when they are dark and soft, can you put them in a fridge and keep them refrigerated for up to several weeks.

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Carrots

Just like most other vegetables and fruits on this list, refrigeration is not the best thing for carrots. It will accelerate its rotting process due to the natural water contained in carrots.

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Refrigeration will shorten carrot’s shelf life and negatively affect its appearance and taste. It is recommended to find a dry and cold place for storing carrots with minimal light, because this vegetable gets bitter if left in sunlight.

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Sweet Potatoes

You may be surprised, but sweet potato is more like a tropical fruit. Even though we associate it with harvest and Thanksgiving, sweet potatoes come from tropical and warm climates. For this reason, they contain components that make them ripen in the heat, and cold temperatures in your fridge can affect the molecular integrity of their ripening chemicals.

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The best way to store sweet potatoes is to find a dry and dark place for them. The best places for storing them in your home would be the basement, garage, or cellar.

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