What’s not to love about a refrigerator and freezer? It’s the place to stash your leftover pizza, the jam your mom made, the ice cream no one is supposed to know you have. It’s a miracle of modern home life.

But a few foods might disagree with you, and we’ve got the wasted groceries to prove it. Want to skip the frustration (and the unwelcome fridge surprises)? Read on to know when to skip the cool-down and stick with the counter and pantry.

1. Bananas

Bananas need room temperature for two reasons: The warm temperatures help the fruit finish ripening (in case you pick up any still-green pieces) and the light and air slow down decay.

2. Coffee

You all know this. Coffee fares best in an airtight container. In fact, refrigeration condenses coffee and reduces the flavor.

3. Tomatoes

The countertop, not the fridge, is the best spot for this summertime bit of goodness. The cold temps in a fridge mess with the deliciousness of their texture.

4. Honey

Ever forget a jar of honey in the back of the pantry for, oh, a really long time? Stash a jar in the fridge, and that process speeds up, quickly making honey unpalatable. Instead, keep it in its original container, in a cool, dark pantry spot.

5. Fresh herbs

A fridge saps basil, rosemary, thyme, and more of their flavor punch and dries them out, too. Instead, tuck them in a small glass, stems down and in a little room-temperature water, and stash them on the countertop, out of direct sunlight.

6. Bread

It is perfectly fine to freeze bread, but keeping it in the fridge causes it to dry faster. And you end up eating dry bread. Instead, keep what you’ll eat within four days at room temperature and freeze the rest. Store in a cool cupboard or bread box for a fresh slice.

6. Oil

Pretty much all oils are safe to store at room temperature. If the oil has a lower saturated-fat content, such as safflower or sunflower, it will benefit from being kept cool, so store it in a dark cabinet or the fridge door. The only oils that you must refrigerate are nut-based oils.

7. Melons

In the grocery store, you’ll find cantaloupe, watermelon, and other similar fruit not in cold cases—so use that rule of thumb when tackling kitchen food storage conundrums, too. For melons, the counter is the best spot until you cut them up; then store them in the fridge.

8. Avocado

Super-unripe avocados have a hard time finishing the ripening process in the fridge. Instead, leave them on the countertop (and use them as motivation to make a bowl of guacamole).

9. Onions

Unless cut up, onions should go in the pantry. But never store them next to . . .

10. Potatoes

Which also need to live in room-temperature storage to maintain their texture. These two are not happy pantry bedfellows; the gases released by the two tend to accelerate spoilage.

11. Garlic

Refrigeration reduces the flavor of garlic and affects its lifespan as well. The refrigerated environment can actually cause mold to develop. Store garlic in a paper bag in a cool, dark spot.


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