8 Foods to Never Store in the Refrigerator

I love any information around organizing. The last few months you've gotten some good advice in Cook'n on how to organize your refrigerator. Good stuff.

So it was with that idea in mind that I thought I'd share some help that I found on one of my favorite sites, Care2, written by author Becky Striepe (she writes the blog "Glue and Glitter".) The refrigerator-related topic-8 foods we should never store in the fridge.

We understand that storing food at a colder temperature keeps it from spoiling. But you've probably noticed how quickly your fridge can get crowded, especially if you're keeping a lot of fresh fruits and veggies on hand.

With that issue in mind, Becky explains what produce to remove to a bowl or basket on the counter, which then also clears out space in the produce drawer, thus making for a more organized and user-friendly fridge.

Here's the deal: Some produce just tastes better if you keep it out on your kitchen counter. Cold temperatures change the taste and texture of some food for the worse. Here's the list:

1. Winter squash. Cured winter squash doesn't need to go in the fridge (where one squash can take up half of a produce drawer). All of the squash you buy at the supermarket is cured for long storage, as is most of the winter squash at the farmers market. Store it in a dark place, and try to leave a little bit of space between the squash. They tend to rot where they are touching other veggies.

2. Onions. The National Onion Association says that sweet onions belong in the fridge, while other varieties keep fine in a cool dark area of the kitchen (like on the counter but away from windows). I've stored both sweet and regular onions on the counter for a week or more without problems. Just make sure you move them once in awhile. Like winter squash, exposure to air prevents them from bruising and rotting.

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3. Potatoes. The cold temperatures in the refrigerator cause discoloration and a change in flavor. Store potatoes out of direct sunlight on the counter instead. A good idea is in a wire produce basket in a darker corner of your kitchen.

4. Sweet Potatoes. These are another food that should never experience refrigerator-levels of cold. They will keep well in a dark area on the counter, just like white potatoes.

5. Ginger. Becky says she's seen a lot of recommendations to store ginger in the fridge, but finds that it gets dry and stringy that way. I've had the same experience. She keeps her ginger-even cut ginger-on the kitchen counter, out of direct light, and it keeps very well. Peeled ginger doesn't store well on the counter, though. You want to blot peeled ginger with a clean, dry kitchen towel, and store in a plastic bag with as much air pressed out as possible.

6. Whole Heads of Garlic. Full heads of garlic keep just fine out on the kitchen counter. Becky says she's seen recommendations for storing separate garlic cloves in the fridge, but she says she's never had a problem with open heads of garlic on her counter. I prefer storing my garlic in a terra cotta container made specifically for garlic storage, and I keep it in my herb cupboard. Sometimes it sprouts, but the sprouts don't hurt a thing-just cut them away (they're on the bitter side).

7. Fresh Herbs. Rosemary is the one exception to this rule, but in general, fresh herbs, such as basil, keep much better on a sunny windowsill, with the bottoms of the stems submerged in a cup of water, just like cut flowers. Change the water out every day or two, and they should keep for about a week. In the fridge, they tend to wither and look sad within a day or two. (My experience exactly!)

8. Bananas. You probably knew about this one already, but storing bananas in the fridge is a bad idea. The skin turns black, and they shrivel up quickly in those harsh temperatures.

Tomatoes. You'll notice tomatoes aren't listed as one of the eight foods to keep out of the fridge. That's because the best way to keep this is subject of debate. Since it's a hot topic right now, though, Becky wanted to include it here. The best method seems to depend on who you ask. Some people say to absolutely store tomatoes on the counter to avoid ruining their texture and flavor, while others say tomatoes belong in the fridge. I keep mine on the counter. You decide!

  •   www.care2.com

    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
    Email the author! alice@dvo.com

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