We have a tendency to put anything we don't want to spoil in the fridge. But when it comes to produce, trying to prolong freshness in the fridge might backfire. These 10 foods actually lose quality when chilled.
1. Tomatoes: Tomatoes love heat and hate the cold. Once you put a tomato in the fridge, the cell structure of the fruit starts to break down and it becomes mealy and dull. Ick. Store tomatoes on your counter or, if they're not quite ripe, on a windowsill.
2. Basil, Parsley, and Cilantro: Like tomatoes, these herbs prefer the heat. Treat a fresh bunch of herbs as you would fresh-cut flowers. Store them in a cup of water for up to a week; just be careful to keep them away from direct sunlight and be sure to change the water every few days.
3. Potatoes: Spuds like to be kept cool but not cold. Storing them in the fridge converts their starch to sugar more quickly, making them gritty and strangely sweet (some people might even say inedible). Store them in cool, dark places instead—like the pantry or inside a paper bag.
4. Onions: The refrigerator is simply too damp for onions, which need to be kept and cured in a dry environment—like a pantry. Just keep them separated from potatoes; when these two foods are stored close together, gases are produced that spoil both.
5. Garlic: For best results, store garlic in a ventilated container in a cool, dry place. One you break open a bulb, you should use the cloves within 10 days.
6. Stone Fruits: Apricots, nectarines and plums should be allowed to ripen at room temperature. Once ripe, you can prolong their life in the fridge for a few days, but why not just gobble them up?
7. Avocado: Unless you're trying to prolong the life of an almost- or already-ripe avocado, you shouldn't keep avocados in the fridge. The cold environment won't allow the avocado to ripen, so store them in a cool, dark place instead. You only have a small window for ripeness—one to two days—so check on them daily.
8. Berries/Brambles: Although you can refrigerate fresh berries, they're best stored at room temperature and eaten quickly. Putting them in the fridge will cause them to mold more rapidly than if you left them out. Besides, you might forget about them in the fridge!
9. Melons: Before you cut them open, you should keep watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew on the counter. After these melons are sliced, the fruit can be kept for a few days in the fridge.
10. Coffee: Ground or whole, you shouldn't store these beans in the fridge or freezer. Condensation is not coffee's friend; it can greatly affect the flavor. Instead, coffee is best stored in an airtight container in the pantry.
As a rule of thumb, if your grocer doesn't refrigerate it, why should you? Try to buy only what you'll eat within a few days, and you'll be treated to fresher, better-tasting food.
Photo by pj_vanf, flickr.