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20 Foods You’re Spoiling By Putting in the Refrigerator

It may be second nature to stash everything in the fridge, but this produce actually stays fresher at room temperature.

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Whole watermelonPhoto: Shutterstock

Whole melons

You’re not keeping whole melons fresh in the fridge, but you are robbing them of their nutritional value. A USDA study found that watermelons at room temperature develop nearly double the levels of compounds like beta-carotene (which promotes healthy skin and eyesight) than refrigerated melons. Cool air stunts the antioxidant growth that occurs after harvest. That said, once melons are sliced, they should be kept chilled to prevent bacterial growth.

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Basil on chopping boardPhoto: Shutterstock

Basil

If this tropical plant is stored below four degrees celsius, it turns black quickly. Keep on the counter in a shady place, and mimic placing flowers in a vase: Fill a glass with water and submerge the stems. Place a zip-top plastic bag over the plant to allow it to breathe and stay moist.

Find out exactly how to stock your fridge if you want your food to last.

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Raw potatoes in sackPhoto: Shutterstock

Potatoes

Cold temperatures convert potato starch into sugar, which results in a gritty texture and a slightly sweet flavour. Potatoes do best at seven degrees celsius (most refrigerators are set from two to three degrees celsius), and are best stored in a paper bag in a cool pantry. Sunlight causes chlorophyll to accumulate, turning potatoes green and sometimes bitter.

Try this simple trick to keep potatoes from turning brown.

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Onions in a basketPhoto: Shutterstock

Onions

Whole onions need air circulation to stay fresh. Store them in a hole-punched paper bag in the pantry. Don’t keep near potatoes; onions emit gas and moisture that can cause potatoes to spoil quickly. Refrigerate chopped onions.

Here are more fresh foods you should never store together.

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Red tomatoes on a vinePhoto: Shutterstock

Tomatoes

Cool air alters chemical pathways in tomatoes, slowing those that contribute to fresh flavour and accelerating others that dull flavour. Store whole tomatoes on the counter for more delicious taste.

Make more room for tomatoes by getting these items off of your kitchen counter.

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Coffee beansPhoto: Shutterstock

Coffee

The moisture in your fridge causes the beans to deteriorate, meaning you aren’t getting the fresh, bold flavour you want from your morning brew. Plus, the temperature fluctuates every time you open the door to your fridge, creating condensation, which in turn creates even more moisture. Stash your coffee beans in an airtight container in the pantry instead.

Don’t miss these pantry organizing tips from professional organizers.

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Garlic clovesPhoto: Shutterstock

Garlic

Garlic cloves fare best in temperatures between 15 to 18 degrees celsius. Put your bulbs in a ventilated container to allow for moisture, and stash it in a cool place.

Here are 10 pantry essentials you should never be without.

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Tabasco hot saucePhoto: Robson90/Shutterstock

Hot sauce

The vinegar and preservatives in store-bought hot sauce keep it from going bad in the pantry. In the fridge, the spicy peppers might lose some of their heat.

Find out the eight zones every organized pantry should have.

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Sweet honeyPhoto: Shutterstock

Honey

This sticky, sweet stuff should not go in the fridge: Honey is known to seize up and crystalize in cold temperatures. Room-temperature is the ideal temperature level for this sweetener.

Here are 15 more food storage guidelines most people don’t know.

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Sliced sourdough breadPhoto: Shutterstock

Sliced bread

Although keeping bread in the fridge keeps mould at bay, it also dries out the loaf. Instead, store extra bread in the freezer and bring to room temperature when you are ready to eat them. If you go through bread a lot, it’s best to keep it out on the counter.

Find out 10 of the most common mistakes people make when buying bread.

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Assorted nutsPhoto: Shutterstock

Nuts

For optimal nutty flavour, it’s best to store nuts in an airtight container in the pantry or cupboard. Storing nuts in the fridge exposes the shelled variety to absorbable fridge odours. Plus, the cool environment diminishes the nutty flavour.

These are the foods you should never eat past the expiration date.

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AvocadosPhoto: Shutterstock

Avocados

The creamy green fruit is best kept at room temperature if it’s hard, or if it’s ripe and you plan on using it right away. That said, finicky avocados that quickly go from underripe to overripe can go in the fridge to last longer.

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NectarinesPhoto: Shutterstock

Stone fruits

Peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots are all best kept at room temperature so they can ripen to perfection.

Find out which fruits and vegetables you should never peel.

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Extra virgin olive oil being pouredPhoto: Shutterstock

Olive oil

This cooking oil should go in a cool, dark place. Keeping it in the fridge can create a harder, more butter-like consistency.

These are the healthiest cooking oils, according to food experts.

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CucumbersPhoto: Shutterstock

Cucumbers

Cucumbers should come out of the fridge. The common mistake of keeping them in the fridge leads to watery and pitted cukes.

Find out more kitchen mistakes that could be ruining your food.

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Red, green and yellow bell pepperPhoto: Shutterstock

Bell peppers

Mushy peppers are never tasty, so don’t put them in the fridge. Low temperatures cause the peppers to lose their crunch.

Find out if you’re storing wine the right way.

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Pickles in mason jarPhoto: Shutterstock

Pickles

It’s not a big dill (pun intended!) to keep your pickles out of the fridge. Since they’re already preserved in brine, they can remain in your pantry until you are ready to eat them.

Stocking up for the winter? Here are 30+ pantry essentials with a long shelf life.

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Dark chocolate chunksPhoto: Shutterstock

Chocolate

Keep chocolate at room temperature somewhere dark and dry for maximum flavour; this avoids a grain consistency from the fridge.

Learn the surprising ways you’re shortening the life of your refrigerator.

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Grilled eggplantPhoto: Shutterstock

Eggplant

If you’re eating eggplant a few days after purchase, it’s OK to keep it out on the counter. Storing it in the fridge could dull the flavour. Take note though that eggplant does have a short shelf life outside of the fridge, so be sure to eat it right away.

Find out more tricks to keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest