Should tomatoes be refrigerated? 8 foods you don’t need to keep in the fridge

Jul 31, 2020
Turns out, tomatoes are best left on the bench. Source: Getty.

The long-standing debate over whether staples such as bread or peanut butter belong in the fridge or pantry has been dividing households for decades. But now, the experts from Australian consumer company Choice have settled the debate for good, revealing the eight foods you should never refrigerate.

Tomatoes

According to the experts, tomatoes are best left on the bench. Research shows that chilling tomatoes below 12 degrees Celsius can alter their taste — in other words, they may not be as delicious when you do get round to eating them.

“Tomatoes lose flavour when placed in the fridge,” Choice expert Fiona Mair says. “I always keep my tomatoes in my fruit bowl or on the window sill.

“I like to buy a mixture of firm and slightly soft tomatoes so I have beautifully ripened tomatoes I can use across the week.”

Coffee

The fridge is not the place to store ground or whole-bean coffee, even if it’s in an airtight container. Why? Because coffee works as a deodoriser and absorbs moisture, odours and flavours from the air around it, it will absorb all the aromas in your fridge. Instead, the experts from Choice recommend keeping your coffee in an airtight container in the pantry.

Uncut root vegetables

Root vegetables, such as potatoes, onions, sweet potato and garlic, are best stored in a dark, dry place because the fridge can cause the root vegetables to rot faster.

“Keeping these types of food out of the refrigerator is generally to avoid moisture absorption that happens in the refrigerator, as this can cause foods to ferment and reduce the taste and quality,” Fiona says. “Best to find a cool dry dark spot in your kitchen.”

Oils and sauces

Whether or not you need to put a condiment in the fridge depends entirely on the type of sauce, oil or spread you have, the experts explained.

“Coconut oil is climate-dependent and will solidify at temperatures lower than 24°C, so it’s best to keep it in a cool, dark place like the pantry,” Fiona says, adding some nut and seeds oils are best kept in the refrigerator.

“With bottled sauces, such as soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, oyster sauce and curry pastes, it’s always best to check the label to see if it says ‘refrigerate after opening’,” Fiona explains.

Bread

Bread is another food that should never be refrigerated. In fact, if you pop it in the fridge it will actually go stale much faster. Instead, keep your bread in an airtight tin or bread box. However, if you live in a humid climate the experts from Choice recommend freezing the bread to extend its shelf life.

Honey and peanut butter

Honey is best stored in the pantry because when refrigerated, it crystallises. On the other hand, peanut butter can last up to three months or so after opening in the pantry. But to extend its shelf life, you can also keep it in the fridge, though this will harden it and could make it a bit more difficult to spread, the experts explained.

Basil and parsley

You aren’t doing yourself any favours by popping your basil or parsley in the fridge.

“These herbs seem to do better out of the fridge,” leading dietician and nutritionist Aloysa Hourigan from Nutrition Australia says. “The dry air in the refrigerator causes the leaves to wilt easily.

To store your basil and parsley, Fiona says, cut the bottom of the stems, place them in a jar with a small amount of water in a cool place, adding: “You’ll just need to change the water and cut the bottom of the stems every couple of days.”

Warm leftovers

Choice experts said it’s important not to place any warm hot leftovers in the fridge straight after it has been cooked as this can affect other food in the fridge. However, it’s also not a good idea to leave your leftovers out for too long. So, as a good rule of thumb, the experts recommend allowing the leftovers to cool to around 60 degrees Celsius before popping the fridge!

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