The refrigerator is one of the most important appliances in the kitchen. The fridge cools our perishable goods so they stay fresh for longer which helps prevent spoiled food and saves us money! However, not all foods should be refrigerated.
Some foods require refrigeration immediately while others should only be added once opened and further, some foods even thrive better when they’re not in the fridge at all. So today we’re sharing exactly which foods should and shouldn’t be refrigerated. Stop letting food go to waste and instead, prolong the life of the delicious food you have on hand.
40. Should: Whole Wheat Flour
White flour can live in the pantry for up to two years but whole wheat flour can spoil after about 3 months. This is because whole wheat flour contains germ and bran which are oils and nutrients.
The rich nutrients are appealing to pests and the oils make whole wheat flour prone to spoiling. To increase the shelf life and to prevent pests from contaminating your flour, be sure to store it in an air-tight container in the fridge!
39. Shouldn’t: Ketchup
Ketchup is often found in the fridge, but it really shouldn’t be there! If you’re looking for ways to free up space in your fridge, removing that family-sized ketchup bottle is a good first step.
There are so many preservatives in ketchup, there’s no need to worry about this sauce going bad at room temperature! Just another item to add to your pantry.
38. Shouldn’t: Pickles
Pickles are found in the canned food aisle at the grocery store, and for good reason! Pickled foods were created as a way to store foods in the winter when fridges and freezers didn’t exist (or grocery stores for that matter).
Clearly, these preserved foods can be stored in your pantry or on your shelves until their expiry date.
37. Should: Sliced Tomatoes
Unripe tomatoes should stay on the counter at room temperature, however, once you cut into the tomato it should be stored in the fridge. The main reason is that cut tomatoes attract bacteria and can easily and quickly spoil.
While we have been told that tomatoes can taste mealy if stored in the fridge you’ll be surprised that this isn’t always the case. Especially if you allow the tomatoes to come back to room temperature before eating!
36. Shouldn’t: Whole Tomatoes
On the contrary, whole tomatoes should not go in the fridge. Too often, tomatoes get tossed in the veggie drawer in the fridge but if you haven’t cut into it, it doesn’t belong there!
Ripe tomatoes should be kept on the counter and it is recommended that you enjoy them within a day or two to obtain the best flavor. Keep in mind if you have tomatoes that aren’t ripe, simply place them on a windowsill where they can ripen to your liking.
35. Shouldn’t: Peppers
We are quick to toss store-bought veggies into the crisper drawer of our fridge. However, if you’re cooking with peppers a lot (an essential ingredient to many recipes) you can keep them on hand, on the counter.
The only time you should be really concerned with storing peppers in the refrigerator is when they’re already cut. Otherwise, you can save the fridge space for something else that needs it.
34. Should: Pie
Who doesn’t love a delicious homemade pie? However, if you find yourself with leftover pie you may need to refrigerate it. Any pies that are made with custard, cream, mousse, or eggs should always stay in the fridge until consumption.
Although, fruit pies can be kept at room temperature but only for 2 days! After that, you should really transfer it to the fridge for an additional 2 days. But after that, it’s time to toss.
33. Shouldn’t: Berries
Once berries are harvested from a farm field, they are on the countdown to be eaten. You don’t want to avoid eating them for too long as they start going bad fairly quickly.
Keeping them in the fridge only speeds up the time it takes for them to go bad and increases your chances of finding berries with mold on them. Gross!
32. Shouldn’t: Dried Fruit
Why refrigerate something that is already dried out? If you want to keep your jaw intact, maybe skip the fridge when it comes to dried fruit!
Dried Fruit can be quite difficult to eat when they are chilled which makes the pantry a better place to store this sweet snack.
31. Should: Corn On The Cob
Nothing quite compares to fresh sweet summer corn. The next time you pick up a fresh dozen you’ll either want to cook it all at once or be sure to stick it in the fridge.
After harvest, in just one day, corn can lose up to 50 percent of the sugar content. This means that the sugar will begin to turn to starch and you’ll lose that lovely sweet flavor. If you choose to store it in the fridge be sure to leave the husks on and to consume it within 2 days of storing.
30. Shouldn’t: Garlic
Refrigerators are often thought of as the lifesaver of food. This amazing appliance helps to prevent your uneaten food from going bad too quickly.
With garlic, the fridge actually speeds up this process and makes the garlic go bad faster while reducing its flavor. Who wants garlic that has that gross fridge taste anyway?
29. Shouldn’t: Onions
Much like garlic, onions should be kept in a cool dark place, and they can last this way for quite a while! Months even. Once they go brown or squishy – it’s time to toss.
However once chopped in meal prep, throw it in an airtight container or bag, and put it in the refrigerator to try and extend its life for a little longer.
28. Should: Maple Syrup
Maply syrup may seem like a condiment that can last forever but this isn’t actually true. Imitation maple syrup stores well in the pantry because it contains loads of preservatives. Maple syrup, on the other hand, can spoil very quickly once opened.
Be sure to place it in the fridge once opened so that you don’t waste any of that sugary goodness. If it has been stored properly in the fridge, it should be able to last for about a year.
27. Shouldn’t: Soy Sauce
Much like Ketchup, soy sauce is found in many fridges in many homes around the world. Also like Ketchup, it is packed with preservatives so it really doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge.
Add this sauce to your pantry to make sure it is stored at room temperature, ready to be served at any time.
26. Shouldn’t: Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits can take up a lot of prime real estate in your refrigerator drawers and shelves, and perhaps unnecessarily so.
While refrigerating citrus fruits like limes, lemons, grapefruits, and oranges will help keep them longer, it’s not necessary – especially if you plan on eating them soon. Stored at room temperature, your citrus fruits will keep for about a week. In the fridge, it may extend that time by another 1-2 weeks.
25. Should: Natural Peanut Butter
Natural peanut butter will act slightly differently than commercial peanut butter because it’s made solely from peanuts and possibly a bit of salt. You’ll find that the oil and peanuts separate whereas commercial peanut butter won’t because it contains hydrogenated oils.
To prevent natural peanut butter from separating, stir it and store it in the fridge upside down. Not only will this keep the peanut butter from separating but it will help prevent it from going rancid as well as prolong the shelf life.
24. Shouldn’t: Peanut Butter
Surprisingly, the same doesn’t apply to non-natural peanut butter. Peanut butter is often found in the fridges of many North American families. It’s a staple in almost every home, yet no one seems to know exactly how to store it.
The correct way to store peanut butter is actually not in the fridge. It should be stored in a cool, dark place like a pantry for optimal lasting power and flavor.
23. Shouldn’t: Peaches
Peaches are so delicious and naturally sweet. This fruit definitely thrives at room temperature, if not warmer!
Another way you can enjoy peaches is if you freeze them in slices on a hot day and add them to your sparkling water. While you won’t get the fresh peach flavor, you’ll be able to infuse your drink and chill it at the same time!
22. Should: Chocolate Syrup
Your beloved chocolate syrup can stay in the pantry until you open it, that is! As long as the syrup is tightly sealed and place in the refrigerator, it should last about 6 months.
Keep in mind, homemade syrup won’t last as long and should be consumed or discarded within a couple of months. Always ensure that homemade syrup stays in the fridge as it lacks preservatives. Be on the lookout for rancid smells, mold, or separation as these are all clues that the syrup has been spoiled.
21. Shouldn’t: Honey
Have you ever tried storing honey in the fridge? It never ends well. Why? Well, basically what happens is the honey ends up crystallizing and turning into a super thick semi-liquid that you can barely squeeze out of the bottle.
Instead, keep honey at room temperature so you don’t have to worry about spending ten minutes trying to squeeze it into your tea.
20. Should: Soy And Nut Milk
Soy and nut milk are both sold refrigerated and unrefrigerated so it can be seriously confusing to determine when they should or shouldn’t be placed in the fridge. As a general rule, if you buy it refrigerated be sure to continue storing it in the fridge.
If you buy it off the shelf, you can keep storing it in your pantry until you open it. Once opened it must be transferred to the fridge! To obtain optimal freshness, be sure to consume opened almond or soy milk within 1-2 weeks.
19. Shouldn’t: Nuts
Much like peanut butter, nuts are not meant to be stored in the fridge! No matter what type of nut is your favorite to munch on, do not put them in the fridge.
Another similarity to peanut butter is that nuts are best stored in a cool, dark place. Whether that’s your cupboards or pantry, it really doesn’t matter.
18. Shouldn’t: Spices
Spices are just one of those things that clearly should not be stored in the fridge. If you are doing this, there is time to recover from this grave mistake, but recover quickly.
If you want your spices to have optimal flavor, store them at room temperature. You will be thankful the next time you cook!
17. Should: Tortillas
Both corn and flour tortillas can certainly live on your countertop, however, if you’re not planning on eating them within a few days it may be best to set them in your fridge. You also may be surprised to discover that many labels come with instructions to refrigerate after opening.
The fridge will help to prevent the growth of mold. Avoid the food waste and be sure to toss them in the fridge after opening.
16. Shouldn’t: Coffee
Popping coffee beans in the fridge sounds like a logical way to keep them fresh for a longer period of time. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
When you store coffee in the fridge, humidity can cause condensation to form around the coffee beans which negatively impacts the flavor. Instead, make sure your coffee is stored in an airtight package of some sort in your pantry or cupboard.
15. Shouldn’t: Bread
Back in the day, everyone had countertop bread boxes, and for good reason. If bread is stored in the fridge, the flavor and texture may deteriorate. This is especially true for freshly baked bread.
If you’re looking to extend the life of your bread, skip the fridge and go right to the freezer. Bread will last for months this way and save you from having to toss another unused loaf.
14. Should: Ripe Avocados
Avocados are so darn delicious and are full of healthy fats. Unfortunately, we know too well how they quickly go from ripe to rancid real quick! You don’t have to store avocados in the fridge right away but if you want to prolong their life and want to stop wasting avocados you should really start placing them in the fridge.
Once they’re ripe simply toss them in the fridge. The cool temperatures will keep the avocado from ripening further and you may find that your avocado will last for a couple more weeks – Woah!
13. Should: Mayonnaise
Mayonnaise may be stored on a non-refrigerated shelf in the grocery store but once you take it home and open it, you must transfer it to the fridge. Even kept in the fridge, mayo should be tossed after two months of opening.
Further, it’s also recommended that if mayonnaise has been left out for several hours and reaches room temperature you should toss it out. You don’t want to risk food poisoning!
12. Shouldn’t: Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
If your favorite salad dressing is a vinaigrette, stay clear of the fridge. These dressings are best stored in your cupboards and also taste and mix better when they are at room temperature.
If you love a good creamy Ranch dressing, the fridge is your best friend. Any cream or mayo-based dressings should definitely be stored in the fridge so they don’t go bad.
11. Shouldn’t: Basil And Mint
You may be used to storing your fresh herbs in the refrigerator but not all herbs do well in a cool storage place. If you’re storing basil or mint, keep them at room temperature.
Not only do basil and mint do well at room temperature, but they are also best kept by trimming the stems and placing them in a vase or jar of cool water, and placed on a sunny windowsill.
10. Should: Cured Meats
Cured meats are delicious and the perfect addition to charcuterie boards. They’re perfectly safe to store at room temperature as long as they remain sealed in their original packaging. However, once opened they really must make their way into the fridge.
If you don’t place them in the fridge after opening they become at risk for bacteria and mold growth. Keep in mind if you purchase the meat from the fridge section at the grocery store be sure to put it in your fridge right away.
9. Shouldn’t: Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Mmmmm, chocolate hazelnut spread is a crowd favorite and it’s usually stored in the fridge, but you can probably guess what’s coming next. It’s not supposed to be there!
Did you know when you refrigerate this beloved spread, it actually loses its chocolatey flavor? Store it in your pantry for optimal spreading power and flavor.
8. Shouldn’t: Melon
Have you ever cut into a melon and the insides just kind of collapse as you cut it? You were probably storing it in the fridge! Storing melons in the fridge can make them a little grainy and encourages them to disintegrate.
The only time you should store melon in the fridge is after you’ve cut it up. With the exposed fruit, it will start to go bad faster if it’s not in the fridge.
7. Shouldn’t: Apples
Apples are most enjoyed when they are picked straight from the tree, but picking them up fresh from the grocery store will have to do. When you bring them home, store them in a bowl as a pretty centerpiece on your table, but avoid the fridge.
However, once the apples start to reach the end of their ripe period, you can pop them in the fridge to keep them for a little longer.
6. Should: Butter
You probably know someone who stores butter on the counter to increase its “spreadability” but you should really be storing it in the fridge. This will slow down the process of oxidation and in turn, will help prevent the butter from going rancid.
Further, many fridges come equipped with a butter compartment, often found in the fridge door. This is not a good place for butter as opening and closing the door can cause temperature fluctuation. It’s best to store the butter towards the back of your fridge to ensure it stays consistently cold.
5. Shouldn’t: Oils
When it comes to oils, we often think of salad dressings and other oily items that we do keep in the fridge. However, with regular oils such as coconut, olive, canola, or avocado – it’s best to keep them in your cupboards.
The reason oil-based items such as dressings need refrigeration after opening is simply because the added items like garlic or onion can turn rancid.
4. Shouldn’t: Jam
Jam, whether it’s homemade or store-bought, should not be found in the fridge. While it is packed with fruit, it’s usually also packed with lots of preservatives and sugar.
This makes it completely safe to store outside of the fridge, so the best place is to store it on your counter or in your pantry.
3. Should: Leftover Frosting
Okay so you set out to make a cake, bought too much frosting and now you’re left with leftover frosting, what a tragedy – just kidding! This just means more frosting for you! Although, make sure you don’t place the leftover frosting back in your pantry.
An open can of frosting is susceptible to bacteria and can spoil quickly! If you’re hoping to secretly indulge in the leftover frosting all to yourself be sure to keep it in the fridge.
2. Shouldn’t: Hot Sauce
As it turns out, you don’t need to store opened or unopened hot sauces in the fridge. Most folks have a whole designated section in the door of their fridge for the varieties of hot sauces from srirachas to chipotles. But maybe it’s time to make a place for them in the pantry!
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules as some hot sauces may have dairy or additives in them that require refrigeration, but for the most part – you’re safe to keep them out.
1. Shouldn’t: Potatoes
Potatoes are grown in the ground where it’s grubby and temperatures can range from high to low on any given day. As such, keep your potatoes away from the fridge, they really don’t need to be chilled!
Store them in paper bags to reduce the chances of moisture building up and causing the potatoes to rot. Keep them in a drawer or pantry until you’re ready to incorporate them into your cooking.