When trying to keep foods fresh, it’s natural to think that by putting everything in the fridge it will last longer. Yet for some foods, the cool moist atmosphere in the fridge can actually speed up the spoiling process.
As a rule of thumb, any products that say ‘keep refrigerated’ on the label should always be stored in the fridge. The same is true for foods with a high bacteria content, such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, eggs, meat and fish. To ensure these foods are stored safely it’s also important you check your fridge temperature is between 3°C and 5°C.
When it comes to items like bread, bananas, potatoes, garlic and unripe fruits, there are better places to store them to keep them fresher, and tasting better, for longer.
Foods to store out of the fridge
Bread – Storing bread in the fridge will dry it out and make it go stale faster. Store bread in a dry airtight container at room temperature. Freeze any bread you want to keep fresher for longer.
Potatoes & sweet potatoes – Cold temperatures convert the potato starch into sugar, changing the texture and flavour of your potatoes. Rather than storing them in the fridge keep them in a paper bag in a cool dark place.
Tomatoes – Refrigerating tomatoes can both stop them ripening and change their texture. For delicious ripe tomatoes bursting with flavour keep them in the fruit bowl or pantry.
Garlic and onions – The moisture in the fridge and a lack of air circulation will actually speed up garlic and onions growing mould. Instead, store them in a cool dry place, like a pantry, in a container with good air circulation.
Unripe avocados – A hard avocado won’t ripen in the fridge. Leave them in the fruit bowl to ripen, then store them in the fridge if you’re not going to use them for a day or two. Once you’ve cut open the avocado, brush it with lemon juice. The citric acid in the juice will keep browning at bay. Store the avocado in an airtight container in the fridge.
Butternut squash – Butternut squash, and in fact most pumpkins, will actually go off quite quickly in the fridge, so are best stored on your kitchen bench or in your pantry instead.
Honey, oil and peanut butter – Honey, oil and peanut butter can all be safely stored in the pantry. Keeping them in the fridge will change their texture and flavour.
Melons – Whole uncut melons ripen and sweeten when left out of the fridge. Plus, the fridge can deplete the nutritional value in some melons. Once cut open, melons should be covered with plastic film or stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Here are some other storage tips to make your food last longer
- Store dairy products at the back of your fridge where it is coldest
- Treat herbs like flowers by storing them upright in a tall glass of water
- Wrap your greens in paper towel to soak up extra moisture
- Store grains in airtight containers rather than the packaging they come in
- Do not store onions and potatoes together because the ethylene gas that some varieties release can cause each other to spoil faster