A bunch of different types of food, with Refrigerator

27 Things Never to Put in the Refrigerator

Have you outgrown your refrigerator? Thinking it’s time to replace it with one that’s bigger? Before you do that, take inventory to see just how much stuff you have in there that really should not be refrigerated. You just might discover that suddenly, current fridge is a lot roomier!

A bunch of different types of food, with Refrigerator

 

Tomatoes

A pile of oranges sitting on top of a wooden table

Unless you want your fresh tomatoes to taste like cardboard, don’t put them in the fridge. Tomatoes can become mealy and tasteless when stored that way because a big chill stops the ripening process and dulls the flavor.

Store fresh tomatoes on the countertop at room temperature. If you grow your own tomatoes, snip off a bit of the vine when harvesting. The attached vine helps keep the tomato fresh longer and gives it a better flavor.

Raw potatoes

A pile of food

Keeping potatoes in the fridge can make them gritty and unnaturally sweet, so don’t dump that bag of spuds in the crisper drawer.

Frigid temperatures alter the starchy complex carbohydrates found in raw potatoes, giving them a sweet taste and a gritty mouthfeel when cooked. For the best flavor and texture, store raw potatoes in a well-ventilated basket or drawer, out of direct sunlight.

Honey

A bowl of soup and a glass of wine, with Honey and SyrupHoney, due to its high sugar content which is a natural preservative, will stay good in a closed container virtually forever. In the fridge (or a cold basement or cellar), it will crystallize, turn sugary, and eventually hard as a rock.

If you already made the mistake of refrigerating it, don’t toss it out. Place the honey bottle in a pan of hot (not boiling) water until it returns to its liquid state. It might take a while, but be patient. This will work.

Coffee beans, ground

A cup of coffee, with Coffee bean

Coffee beans and ground coffee are roasted, which means they’re ready to absorb moisture. The moisture in your fridge can drain that coffee of its flavor causing it to taste off. The freezer is not a good option either unless the beans or grinds are in a fully vacuum-sealed bag.

Roasted coffee should be stored in a closed container in the pantry or countertop. To assure peak flavor, roasted coffee beans should be used within two weeks; once ground within two hours.

Oils

A glass of wine, with Oil and Avocado

Vegetable, olive and other oils will harden in the cool temp of the refrigerator, so they should be should be kept in the pantry. Nut-based oils, however, should be kept in the refrigerator.

Dry onions

A close up of a vegetable

Unripe bananas

A bunch of green bananas

Bananas are one fruit that will continue to ripen once picked when kept at room temperature. Putting in the fridge halts that process. So store unripe bananas on the countertop, out of direct sunlight.

Once perfectly ripe, you can put a fully ripe banana in the fridge for a couple of days, but don’t freak out when it turns black! Inside that banana will remain perfect for a few days, or until you can turn it into banana bread.

Citrus fruit

A pile of oranges sitting on top of a wooden table

Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and other citrus are best stored at room temperature. The cold air in the fridge can damage these fruits, diminishing their flavor and texture

Garlic

A pile of food, with Garlic and OliveUnpeeled garlic cloves should be left out of the fridge because they can become moldy in the presence of moisture. Besides, you don’t want that smell in the refrigerator where it will be absorbed into other food items.

Hot sauce

A close up of a bottle

Hot sauce has more than enough vinegar to keep from spoiling outside of the fridge, and the potency of the peppers will stay hotter at room temperature. Unless the bottle says otherwise, keep hot sauce in a cabinet.

Peanut butter and spreads

A person holding a plant

Spreads like Nutella and peanut butter can harden in the refrigerator, making them nearly impossible to spread. Unless the jar label specifically instructs otherwise (some natural varieties do), store these items on the pantry shelf.

Uncut melon

A basket filled with fruit

Melons ripen and sweeten when left out at room temperature. Something else: The fridge can deplete the nutritional value in certain melons. Once cut open, you should refrigerate your melons. Chilling whole watermelon and cantaloupe takes up way too much room in the fridge.

But more than that, keeping these mega fruits in the icebox halts the ripening process, meaning they won’t be as tasty as if they’d been kept at room temperature. Chilly temps also reduce the healthy antioxidants found in melons.

Keep these fruits on the countertop until they’re ready to eat. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

Pro tip

Honeydew melon won’t ripen inside or outside of the fridge; it stops ripening once picked.

Green avocados

A fruit

What’s better than a ripe avocado? But this magic fruit won’t ripen at all in the fridge, so it’s best to keep it on the counter until it’s ready for the guacamole.

Once an avocado reaches its peak ripeness, store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It will darken on the outside but inside it will stay perfect for a few days.

Bread

A close up of a sandwich sitting on top of a wooden cutting board, with Carbohydrate

It may seem intuitive to store bread in the refrigerator because of its moisture. Sure, refrigerating bread slows mold growth but, ironically perhaps, makes the bread tough, chewy and stale-tasting.

If you know you won’t use the whole loaf before it goes bad, store it in the freezer for up to one month. The same goes for cookies and pastries.

Nuts

table full of nuts

Nuts can lose their nutty flavor in the fridge, and they tend to absorb the flavors and aromas of other foods. And they can get soft.

If you have more than you will consume in a week or two, keep nuts in the freezer in a tightly sealed container or vacuum-sealed bag. Otherwise in a bowl on the counter top or a covered container in the pantry.

Strawberries

A close up of a cake with fruit on top of a table

Refrigerating strawberries gives them a mushy texture and reduces their sweet flavor. For better taste, store fresh strawberries on the countertop, out of direct sunlight, and use them within a day or two of purchase.

And don’t wash them until you’re ready to eat them. All berries go bad more quickly once they’re washed.

Coconut oil

Oil and Bottle

Coconut oil has a shelf life of up to two years when stored at room temperature. There is no reason to keep it in the refrigerator where it will get hard and impossible to scoop out.

Apples

A close up of a fruit

Store fresh apples on the countertop for the best flavor. Sure, apples will remain crisp longer in the fridge, but the ethylene content in their skins can cause other nearby produce to spoil more quickly.

If you really want to refrigerate your apples do this first: Place them in an airtight container to keep from spoiling the other fresh vegetables in the fridge.

Fresh basil

A green plant

Fresh basil is so lovely and useful, but when stored in the refrigerator it absorbs the smells of other foods. And it turns black. To keep your basil fresh, leave it on the counter with its stems submerged in a cup or vase of water as you would with cut flowers.

Chocolate

A close up of a piece of luggage

Chocolate has a very long shelf life, so keeping it in the fridge is absolutely unnecessary. Leave it on the counter for maximum taste and texture

Cucumbers

A close up of many different vegetables on display

Cucumbers are actually quite sensitive to the cold. Cukes fare best when left at room temperature.

Peaches

A cake with fruit on top of a paper plate, with Jam and Peach

Peaches and other stone fruit,  like tomatoes, can get mealy in the fridge. The chill can also strip stone fruit of flavor. Ripe stone fruits should be left at room temperature in a fruit bowl, and consumed with a few days of purchase.

Ketchup

Bottle and Tomato

The cold temperature in the refrigerator won’t harm your ketchup, so why take up precious fridge door space with something that won’t spoil in the pantry? Even once opened, the large amount of vinegar and salt keeps most kinds of ketchup from spoiling. However, check the label on your specific bottle.

Soy sauce

A bottle of wine

Soy sauce has much salt, so it does not need to be refrigerated, even after opening. The same holds true for other similar condiments. However, to be on the safe side check each bottle for any directive to the contrary.

Maple syrup

A cup of coffee on a table, with Honey and Syrup

Check the bottle to make sure your brand doesn’t need to be put in the fridge, but most maple syrups can do fine in the cupboard; maple syrup has such a high sugar concentration that spoilage microorganisms won’t grow. The same goes for corn syrup, agave, and molasses.

Jam, jelly

Fruit and Banana

That same sugar rule applies to most jams and jellies, but check your specific brand to make sure. Jams and jellies as a general rule are better stored in the pantry at room temperature

Batteries

 

Image and Battery

Yes, I know this is not a food but many people believe (incorrectly) that they need to keep batteries in the fridge or freezer to keep them “fresh.” As it turns out, extreme cold or heat can reduce battery performance.


 

A pizza sitting on top of a table
rack of Costco rotisserie chickens
A piece of cake sitting on top of a table
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Caught yourself reading all the way 'til the end? Why not share with a friend.

12 replies
  1. Deb says:

    I put my USED coffee grounds in a bowl in the fridge to help combat odors. I do believe this was trick I learned here.

    Reply
  2. Ann Wiess says:

    I noticed that the Bible was not listed here. In my household, we were raised to never put the word of the Lord in the icebox. I’m surprised that you feel differently.

    Reply
  3. Patti says:

    I forwarded your blog to my son who has a Masters degree in Food Science (and is a Senior Food Scientist in R & D in Denver) and here’s what he said: I agree with the majority of these as we specifically learned about some of them like bread in college.

    HOWEVER, I definitely disagree with them saying that condiments, jams/jelly, and hot sauces shouldn’t be refrigerated. All of those are completely fine to store at room temperature if they haven’t been opened yet but as soon as they’ve been opened they should be refrigerated. Back in the day pretty much all of those were guaranteed to contain preservatives so it would have been true then but now lots of smaller and even big brands have removed those preservatives since consumers hate seeing things like sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate on an ingredient list.

    For a preservative free or homemade jam/jelly you would likely see visible mold growing on the top within 1-2 weeks if you didn’t refrigerate it after opening.

    Thought you might appreciate this. LOVE your blog. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  4. Cally Ross says:

    We like our fruit cold, I always refrigerate melons, strawberries and citrus… then we eat them so quickly that i’ve never had a problem.
    the same with cucumbers, we eat them cold too.
    I’ve learned something new today!

    Reply
  5. Mary W says:

    I have been successful in soaking strawberries in a mixture of water and a glug of vinegar, for a few minutes. remove from the soaking liquid and let them dry a bit and place in the refrigerator back in the same box. they do not become mushy and stay fresh for quite a while. IF your box is small and you have a bowl big enough to contain it, just place the box in the mixture. You will not have a vinegar taste at all.

    Reply
    • Ann Wiess says:

      My husband Karl stores them in his sock drawer. I think it’s weird – but he says it keeps roaches away!

      Reply
  6. Judy Singer says:

    Mary Mary what did I do wrong??? Several days ago I made the artisan bread and followed your directions exactly and ended up with a soupy mess! The dough was so wet I couldn’t even get it off my hands and that was after applying flour and more flour. There was no way I could form it into a ball. After I got it onto the pizza peel with parchment paper it was just like a fat pancake. I baked it but it still looked like a ‘brown’ fat pancake. I have tried making this bread again today and I still had the same results. Nothing that looked like a loaf of bread, that’s for sure. Do you have any idea why mine doesn’t turn out? I still have batter left and am thinking of just throwing that and the recipe out! I have the book from where the recipe came from and I even read that over to see if maybe, just maybe, something was different from the recipe I got from you, but no…it was the same as in the book!
    Any suggestions please??

    Reply
    • Ann Wiess says:

      I noticed that the Bible was not listed here. In my household, we were raised to never put the word of the Lord in the icebox. I’m surprised that you feel differently.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *