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35 Foods That You Should Never Put In The Refrigerator


Dangerous bacteria are lurking all over your kitchen and the way you are storing your food might just be putting loved ones at risk. While some items always need refrigeration, others should firmly stay outside the fridge or else risk being ruined and inedible. Do you know which items to put where? Each food has its own unique criteria of how it should be handled and where it’s safe to store. Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones as well as keep your food fresher, longer and tastier. Read on to find out the 35 food items that you shouldn’t be keeping in your refrigerator.

1. Berries

Berries can be tricky to store and if you do it the wrong way they will mold and become soggy quickly. It’s actually best not to refrigerate berries, but only if you are planning on using them promptly. They remain juicy and firm at room temperature.

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Only rinse the berries right before using them, otherwise, they are likely to mold. When you do rinse them, do it in a colander. Don’t submerge those precious berries in water. You can store them in the fridge for longer-term use but make sure they aren’t in an air-tight container. This applies to all types of berries, including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.

2. Avocados

Avocados can be tricky fruits to manage. Keeping them in the refrigerator halts the ripening process so never keep them refrigerated. Just store your avocados on the counter at room temperature. If they are already ripe then use them immediately.

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To ripen avocados, we suggest to place them in a brown paper bag along with an apple or banana for a few days (usually around two or three) until ripe. The apple (or banana) releases ethylene gas which causes the avocados to ripen more quickly.

3. Donuts

There is nothing more delicious than a freshly baked donut. But what do you do when you have too many? Firstly, that sounds like an amazing problem. Secondly, don’t fret, and whatever you do, don’t put them in the fridge.

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The fridge will make your donuts stale and soggy so it’s best to just keep them at room temperature and make sure that they are covered. They won’t last long, though. Freshly-baked donuts should only be kept for around two days maximum.

4. Aged Cheese

If you’re a cheese aficionado then you probably already know this, but hard cheeses should never go in the fridge. It may sound odd as cheese is a dairy product but it’s true! If hard cheese is left in the fridge then it turns from hard to rock hard.

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Hard cheese goes through a curing process that takes around six months to complete. After its cured, there is no need to keep it chilled. Just store it in a cool, dark place like your pantry or cupboard. Other cheeses need to be refrigerated, so make sure to check if it has been aged or not.

5. Potatoes

Do you want sweet and gritty potatoes? No, we didn’t think so either. Putting your potatoes in the fridge quickly turns the vegetable’s starches into gooey sugar. Yuck! Just keep them in the pantry away from extreme temperatures.

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Once a potato has been cooked make sure that you keep it in the fridge. Baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil should never be left to sit out at room temperature, as they can form deadly strains of botulism.

6. Sealed Tuna

Some people think that unopened canned tuna should go in the refrigerator but that isn’t the case at all. Yes, it is fish, but it comes in a can from an unrefrigerated section of the grocery store for a reason.

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Keep your cans of tuna at room temperature stored in the pantry or cupboard. After the can has been opened then you can store it in the fridge. Just put the tuna in a sealed container (don’t keep it in the tin can!) and it will keep for around three to four days.

7. Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread

It might surprise you to hear that chocolate-hazelnut spreads such as Nutella do not need to go in the refrigerator. It even says so on the label. In the cold of refrigeration temperatures, the spread actually becomes a solid and will no longer spread.

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The sugar content of the spread serves as a preservative and prevents bacteria growth. Spreads like Nutella harden when refrigerated due to the high-fat content from the hazelnuts. So, if you want a smooth and creamy spread, keep it out of the fridge!

8. Garlic

Full bulbs of garlic should be stored in a cool, dry place, such as your pantry. Keep them in a ventilated container. If you keep them in an airtight container they will mold quite rapidly. If you store your garlic properly it will stay good for months.

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Once the head of the garlic clove is broken you should use all the cloves without around 10 days. Garlic is a superfood, so make sure that you keep your garlic good for as long as possible and avoid wastage.

9. Onions

Whole, uncut, onion bulbs should never be kept in the fridge. If you do, they will quickly become moldy and mushy from the humidity in the refrigerator. When onions are chilled the starches inside the bulb are converted to sugars.

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If they are left long enough in the fridge, the onion will liquefy completely. And nobody wants that. Onions should be kept in a cool dry place in a ventilated container or easier, just keep them in the mesh bag they already come in.

10. Eggs

This is a controversial food to keep out of the refrigerator for sure. But it actually is fine to keep eggs at room temperature. As a general rule though, if you buy eggs in the refrigerated section, keep on refrigerating them.

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If you buy eggs at room temperature, then its fine to keep doing so or put them in the fridge, should you wish. According to Tim Hayward, presenter for the Food Programme on BBC Radio 4, “A fresh, free-range egg should last beautifully at room temperature for at least a week.”

11. Coffee

Never ever keep your coffee or coffee beans in the fridge or freezer. That’s what all the experts say, including Starbucks. The fridge and freezer are far too humid and will make your coffee tasteless and less aromatic.

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The only reasons why you should even think about putting coffee in the freezer is if you have either bought in bulk and won’t be using it right away or if you are not a daily coffee drinker and just keep it around for guests.

12. Honey

If you put honey in the refrigerator it will begin to crystallize and turn into a clumpy sugary mess. Not recommended. Experts say that the best storage for honey is in your pantry, away from extreme temperatures. Honey can also be dangerous due to botulism and should NEVER be fed to children under 12 months old.

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It might surprise you to hear that technically, honey never goes bad. The color and consistency will change over time but the properties of honey and its high sugar content protect it from growing bacteria as long as it’s stored properly.

13. Butter

This next one is going to be a tad controversial. But butter can actually be left out of the fridge. And once you try it you will understand. Room-temperature butter spreads like heaven on earth. Who wouldn’t want that?

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You should always keep your butter covered and in a cool area outside of direct sunlight. Butter is pasteurized and salted which helps keep it from going bad. You should also consider the climate where you live. If you live in a particularly hot climate, it might not be possible to store it outside the fridge.

14. Melon

Melons are sweetest and juiciest at room temperature. That goes for all melons, whether watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew. The USDA actually did research on the topic and found that this was indeed the case and that being at room temperature helps to keep antioxidants intact.

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Not only will the melon have more antioxidants, they retain more nutrients at room temperature and are tastier. Once you have cut the melon, then you should wrap it in cling wrap and store the remaining pieces in the fridge. The cut melon should last for at least three days.

15. Basil

Keeping basil in the refrigerator is one thing you for sure don’t want to do. When in the fridge, you will find that basil very rapidly turns into a wilted brown mess. Yuck. Some herbs do well in the refrigerator, like parsley and cilantro but it’s best to keep basil at room temperature.

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The best thing to do in order to keep your basil fresh, aromatic and full of flavor is to just trim the stems and place them in a glass of water, like you would do with flowers. This way your glass of basil can also be used as a decorative piece in your kitchen and add some color to the room. It’s a win-win situation.

16.  Eggplant

If you plan on using your eggplant within about two days of purchasing it, it’s best to keep it out of the refrigerator. Just place it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Eggplants are best kept at room temperature.

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If you don’t plan on using your eggplants right away then they can be kept in the crisper of your refrigerator to increase their longevity. Eggplants are quite sensitive to ethylene gases produced by bananas, tomatoes and melons, so it’s best to keep them away from those fruits.

17. Peanut Butter

Who likes rock hard peanut butter that won’t spread? Pretty much no one… There is no need to keep peanut butter in your refrigerator, so don’t. Apart from not spreading, peanut butter will get dry and hard if kept in the icebox.

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Natural peanut butter, however, is a different story. It is best to keep natural peanut butter in the fridge and most of the labels on these products advise to do so. The ingredients in natural peanut butter can separate and the peanut oil can quickly go rancid if left unrefrigerated.

18. Olive Oil

Keeping your olive oil in the fridge is a bad idea. Refrigerators are damp and humid places and the condensation can severely affect the flavor of your olive oil. It will also cause your olive oil to become cloudy and solidify over time.

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Instead of the fridge, try putting your olive oil in cool, dark cupboard. It should keep for at least a year. Unopened bottles of olive oil can even stay good for up to two years. If you currently have your olive oil in the fridge and it is changing consistency, don’t fret. Just take it out. Once at room temperature the consistency will change back to normal.

19. Pickles

If you buy pickles in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, then it’s best to keep storing it in the fridge at home. But really most pickles don’t need to be refrigerated due to their contents.

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The high salt and vinegar content in pickle jars is strong enough to ward off harmful bacteria and micro-organisms. Pickling something is actually a food preservation method, so your pickles should stay good for quite a long time.

20. Vinegar

Some foods are able to preserve themselves, like vinegar. It virtually has an indefinite shelf life. It’s recommended to keep vinegar in a cool, dark place, out of direct sunlight. A pantry or kitchen cupboard is perfect. This only goes for plain vinegar.

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Others condiments, like vinaigrettes containing herbs, garlic, onion or other add-ons, may actually require refrigeration. If you are still questioning whether vinegar really has such a long shelf life, know that the Vinegar Institute did a study confirming such.

21. Ketchup

Due to ketchup’s natural acidity, it is inhospitable for microorganisms to grow and turn your ketchup bad. So, you don’t need to store it in the refrigerator. Lots of people do this, and many report that it has a better flavor at room temperature.

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If you live in a particularly hot climate, then you might want to consider keeping your ketchup bottle in the fridge after opening. Or if you rarely use it, the fridge will increase its longevity.

22. Mustard

Mustard is another one of those condiments that people generally just put in the fridge without thinking twice. But actually, there is no need to. Just like ketchup, mustard has a very high acidity content, so mustard is quite self-preserving.

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Have you ever seen a restaurant refrigerate their mustard? Nope. So neither do you. It really boils down to personal taste. Some people like their mustard room temperature, while others prefer their mustard chilled. Make your decision wisely.

23. Stone Fruit

Stone fruits, such as peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums ripen the best at room temperature. So, it’s best to avoid placing them in the refrigerator unless you’re not planning to eat them right away. But either way, let them ripen at room temperature first.

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If stone fruits are left to ripen in the fridge then they can become victim to chill damage. When a fruit is left to ripen at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the ripening process stops altogether. The result is a mealy and flavorless fruit.

24. Tomatoes

Another fruit that you should never put in the refrigerator is a tomato and there is scientific evidence to back it up. That’s right! New research recently confirmed that exposing the fruits to cold temperatures, such as a in a refrigerator, damages the flavor-enhancing cells.

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Researchers are looking into genetically modifying tomatoes to prevent this from happening, but for now, if you want to preserve the flavor of your tomatoes, its best to keep them away from the refrigerator. Also, the window-sill is a good place for unripe tomatoes.

25. Molasses

Keeping molasses in the refrigerator is simply impractical. Molasses is already a highly-viscous substance and when you keep it at such a low temperature, like in the fridge, if becomes solid and impossible to use. So find another place to keep it.

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Most recommend keeping molasses in an airtight container in a cool area, such as your pantry. An unopened jar of molasses will generally keep good for about a year. Once opened, its life expectancy is cut in half, around just six months.

26. Nuts & Dried Fruits

Nuts and dried fruits shouldn’t be stored in the refrigerator. The chill temperature of the fridge can smother the nutty flavor and make dried fruits too firm and tasteless. It’s best to keep the nuts and dried fruits in an airtight container in the pantry instead of the fridge.

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And remember, if the nuts are still in their shells, then they can absorb the odor of things near them. So store them separately. If you do have nuts in the fridge then just give them a quick toast in the oven before using them for anything.

27. Bananas

The placement of your bananas is going to be dependent on whether they are ripe. Unripe bananas should be kept out of the fridge and it will be possible to tell if they are ripe by their color. The unripe bananas are green and firm.

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If your bananas are already ripe and you aren’t going to be eating them within the next few days, then you can place them in the fridge to stop them from over-ripening and going bad. And remember not to keep them near other fruits and vegetables that you don’t want ripening any further due to the gas bananas emit.

28. Chocolate

Some people like to keep their chocolate and candy bars in the refrigerator. To that we say, “to each his own.” But in fact, keeping chocolate in the icebox is damaging to the chocolate and ruins its taste and texture.

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When chocolate is kept in the refrigerator a phenomenon called “sugar bloom” occurs. Sugar bloom can be seen on the outer layer of the chocolate. It literally looks like little blooms and it causes the chocolate to be grainy and gritty.

29. Bread

It is never recommended to keep bread refrigerated. It will severely dry your bread out and make it quickly become stale. It’s best to just keep bread out and stored at room temperature. Pre-sliced bread should stay fresh for up to a week.

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Just make double sure that the package is tightly sealed shut after use. If you find yourself with too much bread then you can always freeze what you don’t need and reheat it later. That way you’ll always have bread on hand and not have to worry about it going bad.

30. Cucumber

Another vegetable that might surprise you is the cucumber. Cucumbers are best and tastiest when stored at room temperature. The University of California even did a study on it. They found that storing the vegetable in temperatures lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit caused damage to the cucumber.

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So, just keep cucumbers in your pantry (away from apples and bananas) and they will have a longer life expectancy and maintain their delicious taste longer. Read on! The next food item you should never keep in the fridge is going to shock you.

31. Cereal

This food might surprise some of you. Some people keep their cereal in the refrigerator and doing so can actually damage the texture of the cereal. Due to humidity, cereals can quickly lose their crunch by keeping them in the icebox.

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Not to mention that cereal boxes will take up loads of refrigerator space. Still, there are a number of reasons why some people choose to keep their cereals in the fridge, including bug issues. So, that, we can understand. Do whatever it takes to keep those pesky ants out!

32. Pumpkins

Have too many pumpkins for Halloween and want to save some of the medium-sized and smaller ones for later use? No problem. But don’t put them in the refrigerator, even if you have room. The cold will, in fact, damage the pumpkin, not preserve it.

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Instead, store your pumpkins in a dry, cool environment such as your pantry. Feel a pattern emerging? Most things can be stored safely in your pantry (that’s what it’s for!), except for most dairy products… always refrigerate those.

33. Spices

There is nothing worse than spices losing their flavor and clumping together. That’s exactly what happens when you keep your spices in the refrigerator. Just don’t do it. Most ground spices are good for years in dry storage anyways.

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Place your dry spices in your kitchen cupboard or spice rack. At room temperature they will be more potent, taste better and be more aromatic than if there were kept in the cold fridge or freezer. You’ll thank yourself for it in the long run.

34. Apples

Apples can be risky to keep in the fridge as they are an ethylene-producing fruit. If you keep them with other fruits and vegetables, then they will ripen more quickly. Sometimes that might just be too quick and leave you with spoilt fruits and veggies.

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Apples can last for a good week or two on the counter and they can be quite the decorative piece with their delicious colors. If you do end up keeping them in the fridge (as they will last longer) just make sure to keep them separate! And remember, one bad apple spoils the whole bunch!

35. Hot Sauce

Hot sauce is made of some pretty strong ingredients — so strong, in fact, that they create inhospitable environments for bacteria and foodborne illness. As such, hot sauce does not require refrigeration. Some hot sauces will even solidify if you put them in the refrigerator, so be careful!

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That being said, your hot sauce will have a longer shelf life if you keep it in the fridge and the flavor will last longer. So it really depends on what type of hot sauce user you are. Do you keep just one bottle for years? Or do you run through a bottle on a monthly basis? If you’re a more frequent user then keep it out and enjoy the fresher taste.

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Sources: Food NetworkDr. Health

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