8 Foods You Should Not Put in the Refrigerator

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Refrigeration slows the growth of bacteria that can make us sick or shorten the shelf life of food. So, in theory, shouldn’t all foods be kept in the refrigerator?


Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the fridge is “one of the most important pieces of equipment in the kitchen for keeping foods safe,” some foods just don’t get along with colder temperatures.

Refrigerate the following items, and you’re likely to notice a big difference in taste and texture. And given how much we’re paying for food these days, why would you want to mess it up?

1. Potatoes

Potato farmer
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Spuds like it cool, but not cold. The Idaho Potato Commission says a temperature of 45 to 50 degrees is ideal. But the temperature in your fridge is (or should be) lower than that.

When potatoes get too cold, their starch converts to sugar. You’ll notice a change in taste — and nobody likes a “sweet” potato. Keep them in a dark, cool place but don’t keep them on ice.

2. Bread

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Keeping your bread on the counter for too long could result in moldy slices. But putting it in the fridge causes the bread to become dry and taste stale, according to Martha Stewart’s website.

If you’re going to eat the bread soon, you can leave it out. But if your household can’t finish off a loaf quickly, consider freezing it and taking out a few slices at a time.

However, thawed bread will get stale even more quickly than it would if it were refrigerated. Sometimes you just can’t win.

3. Coffee

Man with a coffee mug
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Do you refrigerate (or freeze) coffee beans to keep them fresh? Starbucks – a company that knows a thing or two about java – says you should stop doing that.

Chilling or freezing causes condensation on your coffee, which affects the flavor. Instead, the company suggests storing coffee at room temperature in an opaque, airtight container. Keep it away from sunlight and also any kitchen appliance that produces heat.

4. Onions

Onions in a mesh produce bag
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Keep onions out of the fridge! They will absorb moisture there and are apt to become mushy.

According to the nonprofit Produce for Better Health Foundation, onions should be cool, not cold. They should also be dark: Keep them out of the light in a well-ventilated area.

5. Garlic

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Onion’s equally fragrant cousin, garlic, also needs to be kept in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place. However, the chill of the fridge can stimulate sprouting in garlic heads, according to Good Housekeeping.

But if you’re talking about storing peeled garlic cloves or minced garlic, then the fridge is the right place to be. Just keep them in an airtight container; otherwise, everything is going to take on an air of allium.

6. Tomatoes

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A ripe, juicy tomato is cause for celebration in sandwiches and salads or when consumed fresh at the height of the season. Resist the impulse to pop them in the fridge to keep them fresh longer, though. When chilled, a tomato enzyme causes the fruit’s cell membranes to break down.

It’s galling to pay upwards of $10 a pound for heirloom tomatoes that have the mouthfeel of cold oatmeal. So buy only as many as you can use up quickly and store them on the kitchen counter.

7. Baked goods

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Don’t put cookies, doughnuts, pastries, pies or cakes in the fridge. The Food Network warns that cold temperatures make the fats in the foods harden, which affects both flavor and texture.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Martha Stewart says the fridge is the right place for sweets made with raw dairy and/or eggs, such as certain pies (pumpkin, cream, custard), or cakes and cupcakes iced with buttercream frosting.

8. Chocolate hazelnut spread

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This spread, beloved in Europe, has become a fixture on American tables as well. Ferrero Foodservice, manufacturer of the best-known version, Nutella, urges consumers not to refrigerate the stuff.

“Do not refrigerate Nutella, otherwise it will harden and become difficult to spread,” the website advises. Who are we to argue with the people who brought Nutella crepes to these shores?

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