Ever since food storage began, we've been taught that cool saves food while heat spoils it. And although this is true for processed foods, it isn't always the case for fruits and vegetables. Refrigerating certain fruits and vegetables can actually rob them of flavor and nutrients, ruin their texture, and quicken their spoiling. Here's a list of 15 foods
that don't need to be in the fridge to stay fresh and flavourful.
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Avocados can be crazy frustrating. They are never quite ripe enough when you want them to be and then BAM, they are overripe. But if you happen to hit during that all too short window of perfection, avocados are like nothing else and perfect for satisfying your fat cravings. But do not put them in the fridge. They need heat and ethlyene to ripen. If you put them in the fridge, they will spoil but never ripen.
Honey has perhaps the longest shelf life of any known food. Stored in the right conditions and container, honey remains edible and nutritious for thousands of years due mostly to its extremely low water content. The more water in the honey, the freer it flows. Some honeys crystallize almost immediately, like Brassica honey whereas Tupelo honey never does. No matter where the honey falls on the viscosity scale, keeping honey in the fridge will make it thicken fast. Refrigerating honey also makes it crystallize which not only makes it less translucent, it makes it nearly impossible to apply to your favourite foods.
3. Coffee Beans
Coffee has a few natural enemies: light, moisture, air and heat. In the moisture of cold storage, coffee will lose its flavour, absorb any ambient odours and get stale. Store freshly roasted coffee in vented, sealed bags which allows the carbon dioxide to escape, while preventing oxidizing air into the bag, which spoil coffee fast. Also, keep the storage container or bag away from windows, sunlight and heaters.
Pineapple can be kept in the fridge for a day or two but it isn't necessary. Chilling the pineapple before slicing it into snack size nuggets is nice and refreshing. But if you are planning to ripen it or use it in warm or grilled dishes, you should keep it out of the cool. Once you've cut into it though, it should be put in the fridge.
Who doesn't love a potato? The potato thrives in most conditions, except refrigerated. The cool, moist environment of the fridge make potatoes gritty and flavourless and accelerate the conversion of starch to sugar. Once the sugars take hold, your potato begins to rapidly decompose. For best results, keep your potatoes in a cool, dark, dry and well ventilated area.
6. Bread and Pastries
Fancy breads are some of the greatest things on earth and your instinct may be to make them last longer by putting them in the fridge. Although refrigerating delays mold, it makes baked goods go stale faster. Freezing bread is fine and often preserves the moisture and flavor, but realize unless its in a vacuum sealed pack, the dehydration and staleness that characterizes ‘freezer burn’ will often leave you disappointed, even if you’re just toasting the bread to thaw and re-warm it.
7. Stone Fruit
Apricots, plums, nectarines, cherries and peaches are known as drupes or ‘stone fruit.' These fruits do best at room temperature with the stem end facing down. You can tell they are ripe when the flesh becomes soft and they smell sweet. Once they've hit this stage, you can slow their over ripening by putting them in the fridge.
What farmers will tell you is that tomatoes need a dry, well aired platform on which to mature sweetly which means not cold, damp, dark setting of the fridge. Cold dampness makes tomatoes mushy and prevents their natural ripening.
Onions hate cold and wet environments, you know, like your fridge. The moisture actually makes onions sprout prematurely and the moisture speeds up the rotting process. Onions prefer cool dry, well ventilated environments like a pantry or unsealed cupboard.
10. Squashes, Pumpkins and Gourds
Because members of the squash family have been known to do well in cellars, people assume the next best thing is the fridge. The moisture in the fridge does nothing for these beauties. Find a nice, dry spot, low to the floor in your pantry and let your squash thrive.
11. Whole Melons
Summer isn't complete without the taste of fresh melons. Uncut melons don't like cold or moist environments. The fridge robs the melons of antioxidants and makes them soft and unsightly. Leave them on the counter or in a basket and only refrigerate after cutting them.
Bananas are fast ripeners which is caused by ethylene emission, which is naturally produced by the fruit. If you put bananas in the fridge, it slows the ripening and turns the peel black. If you want to delay your bananas, keep them in a cool (not cold) place and keep them separate from one another thereby reducing the amount of ethylene each one is exposed to.
There are few things better than fresh, sweet tasting (and smelling) basil. But, this glorious herb wilts and spoils quickly when placed in the fridge. The best thing to do is place the basil stocks in a small cup with water, about an inch. This will keep your basil taller and more vibrant longer. You can use this for other long stemmed herbs too, like cilantro and parsley.
14. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Some oils, like nut oils or flax seed oil needs to be refrigerated to prevent it from going rancid, but extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is best stored at a cool room temperature, in a cupboard or pantry, and in dark colored glass bottles, away from light. Never store oils in plastic containers as they will absorb chemicals easily that will adulterate the taste, and harm your health. And remember, premium EVOO should never be refrigerated, as condensation can develop which damages the flavor and quality of the oil.
Garlic does best at room temperature. Refrigerating garlic causes it to hold moisture and become moldy. Garlic loves air and darkness as sunlight can trigger unwanted sprouting. And mesh bags or other ventilated containers are best as plastic encourages condensation and rapid decay.
Time to have a look in your fridge! What do you have in there that shouldn't be?