Certain foods depend on cold storage to prevent spoiling, but many common foods may actually age faster if you put them in the fridge. Other foods get moldy quicker or lose flavor when they’re refrigerated unnecessarily. Take a quick survey of what’s in your fridge, and if any of the five foods below are in it, set them out on the counter or in your pantry instead.
No one likes flavorless, mealy tomatoes … but this is exactly what you’ll get if you put your tomatoes in the fridge. This stops the ripening process while altering their texture in a very unpalatable way. Store your tomatoes in a bowl on your counter instead.
The cold temperatures in your refrigerator turn the starch in potatoes into sugar more quickly. This makes them taste displeasingly sweet when cooked and will also make them turn an unappetizing dark color. Store your potatoes in a cool dark place, such as your pantry, ideally in a brown paper bag for ample airflow.
Onions will turn soft and moldy in your fridge due to the moisture. A cool, dark space, such as your pantry, is best for keeping onions fresh. (Tip: store onions away from potatoes, as together they will spoil faster.)
Many mistakenly believe that refrigerating coffee will keep it fresh. In reality, coffee kept in the refrigerator will lose its flavor and take on odors from the fridge. Store coffee in a cool dark place for optimal flavor and freshness.
If you store honey in the fridge it can crystalize, and there’s no need for it. Honey kept at room temperature in a tightly sealed container will stay fresh and flavorful.
Tips for Storing Food and Avoiding Food Waste
Proper storage will extend the shelf life of perishable foods so you don’t end up with food waste. Just as you should leave the foods above at room temperature, others should be quickly chilled or frozen. For instance, freeze meats you won’t be using soon, butter cheese to prevent mold growth in the fridge and use airtight containers to keep small quantities of perishable items fresh in the fridge.
As for spoilage, if it smells or looks suspicious throw it out, but don’t make the call based on expiration date alone. For an average U.S. household of four, about $455 worth of food may be thrown away unnecessarily every year just because it’s expired. There’s a good chance that the food can still be eaten, so use these guidelines to determine if your expired food may still be safe to eat.