Many of us believe that the fridge is the best way to keep our food fresh and make it last longer. We have become used to storing a lot of our weekly food shopping in the fridge, however several foods keep better at room temperature.
Surprisingly, some foods change their flavour and texture when in colder surroundings. Although keeping these foods in the fridge will not necessarily lead to any harm, it can affect your eating plans and increase the amount of food waste coming from your refrigerator. Here are some foods you should be leaving out of your fridge.
When you buy an avocado, whose label says to ripen at home, you usually have to wait a few days for the hard piece of fruit to turn soft enough to eat. By keeping your avocado in the fridge, you are stopping the ripening process, and the avocado will eventually just turn into brown mush. The best way to ensure a perfectly ripened avocado is to leave it in a dry, dark place such as a brown paper bag. Once it reaches the desired ripeness, the avocado should be stored in the fridge to stop the overripening process.
Bananas are a tropical fruit and they are sensitive to cold temperatures. By storing them in the fridge, the bananas suffer from damage to their surface and a loss of flavour. This is because the cold temperature weakens the bananas’ cell walls and allows the fruits’ digestive enzymes to leak out, resulting in the banana skin turning black. The best place for your bananas is on your countertop.
Once in the fridge, basil absorbs the smells around it causing it to lose its natural aroma and flavour. In addition to these changes, the cold will cause the herb to wilt prematurely. The best way to store your basil is to keep it in a glass of water in the kitchen, away from direct sunlight.
Many of us store bread in the fridge to delay the appearance of mould, however this causes the bread to lose its moisture and go stale more quickly. The cold temperature causes the starch to crystallise at a higher rate, resulting in hard and stale bread. For best results, store your bread in a cool and dry place like a breadbin.
‘Where do you store your chocolate?’ is a question asked by many. Some of us store it in the fridge without hesitation and some store it in the cupboard. However, chocolate is better kept at room temperature. When stored in the fridge, the chocolate bar becomes dull and doesn’t release its flavours. Storing it in the cold can also lead to ‘sugar bloom’ – this happens when the chilled chocolate is exposed to the warmer air causing condensation on the chocolate surface which dissolves some of the sugar which then recrystallizes, leaving a grainy, white coating. Some chocolate with a cream filling is at a higher risk of going off and might need refrigeration, but it’s always best to follow the instructions on the packaging.
Similar to the other fruits mentioned, the refrigerator will slow down the ripening process considerably. If a mango is not ripe before eating, it will have a bland taste. By keeping it at room temperature, it will become sweet and soft within several days. Once you have cut into your mango, it will keep for a couple of days in the fridge or up to 6 months in the freezer.
To maintain the nutritional value of the melons, they should be stored out of the fridge until they are cut. By keeping them in the cold, they could lose some of their antioxidants such as lycopene and beta-carotene which are linked to health benefits such as preventing skin damage caused by the sun. Lycopene absorbs UVA and UVB radiation, therefore after a few weeks of daily watermelon intake, lycopene can act as a natural sunblock, although this shouldn’t replace the use of sun cream and protective clothing. Melons should only be kept in the fridge or freezer once cut.
For onions to develop and maintain their outer dry layer, they need to be kept in a dry environment like a cupboard. The dampness and lack of air circulation in the fridge causes the onions to spoil more quickly. If stored in cold areas, the sugars turn to starch which will make them go mushy. The best place for onions is in a cool, dry, dark and well-ventilated place away from potatoes. Onions and potatoes should also be kept separate as the potatoes give off moisture and gas which can cause the onions to spoil.
Cold temperatures cause the starch inside the potatoes to turn into sugars which affect the colour, texture and the taste of the carbohydrate. When cooked, the sugar increase can lead to higher levels of a chemical called acrylamide. The UK Food Standards Agency has launched a warning of a possible cancer risk associated with the chemical as it has shown harm in animals. Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place. It is a good idea to store them inside a brown paper bag as it has all the desired storage properties, but also allows them to remain well-ventilated.
The cold air from the fridge prevents tomatoes from ripening and ruins their taste as well as their texture. The cold air changes a tomato’s chemical structure and reduces the number of volatile compounds which in turn affect the flavour. Tomatoes thrive at room temperature and should be left on the countertop away from direct sunlight.
By keeping these food products out of the fridge, you can help improve their flavour and appearance as well as their shelf life. However, don’t forget that once your fruit and vegetables are cut or at the ripeness you desire, the fridge is the best place for them.
Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute nutritional advice, nor does it substitute the medical advice from a healthcare professional.