What produce should you refrigerate? Find out what goes in the fridge for longer-lasting groceries and a tidy kitchen.
If you are like me, chances are you have two main food storage areas in your kitchen: the refrigerator and the kitchen counter.
And if you are like me, chances are you have been grocery shopping enough times to have a sort of automatic routine in place, a habit of putting some stuff in the fridge and some in the fruit bowl without even having to think about it anymore.
But where does your routine come from: do you know what produce goes in the refrigerator and what is best on the counter I thought I did until I learned that I didn’t!
So here is our list of what produce goes in the fridge, what is best left at room temperature and why: I bet at least some of them will surprise you!
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What produce to refrigerate
Lemons and citrus fruits – citrus fruits can look lovely in a fruit bowl but they last much longer in the fridge and the cooler temperature will prevent them from developing that horrible smelling green mold that is so offensive to the nostrils!
If you don’t like cold fruit or find them too hard to squeeze when cold, you can simply take them out fof teh refrigeration a little before you need to use them: they will be safe to eat even if left at room temperature but will last up to twice as long if kept in the fridge until needed.
Cabbage, bok choi, lettuce, salad leaves, broccoli, cauliflower – this is a wide category but basically anything like cabbage, salad heads and leaves should go in the refrigerator. The best way to preserve them is to make sure they are dry and store them in the crisper, protected from spillages: leave the outer leaves on as they will protect the more tender and juicy ones in the middle
Carrots, beets – carrots and beets also last longer in the refrigerator as the cool temperature helps retain moisture and texture. If storing in a plastic bag, make sure there are holes to allow air circulation as this will prevent mold from forming on the surface of your vegetables
Eggplants, zucchini, peppers, rhubarb – all belong in the fridge. You can opt to store them in a paper or plastic bag but make sure air can circulate around them or mold will be inevitable
Watermelon, cucumber – watermelon and cucumber are related and both last longer and better in the fridge as it helps maintain moisture and texture. Top tip! remove packaging before storing, even the skin-tight plastic they sometimes come into and opt for a cold yet not-too-cold part of the fridge for best results.
Want to know the best place to store everything in your fridge? Pop over to our refrigerator organization tips
What produce not to refrigerate
Tomatoes – this is the item that surprised me the most as I will be honest: I always had my tomatoes in the fridge until I discovered what it does to their flavor and texture! Tomatoes in the fridge tend to get soggy, lose juice and texture and develop annoying wrinkles. Also, unless they are already at perfect ripening point, they will not mature in the fridge so you may never get that juicy bite you got them for. It is better to keep them on the kitchen counter or in the pantry.
Garlic – Garlic does not belong in the fridge. While it can be tempting to keep garlic in the fridge to prevent odors, the cloves can deteriorate in the fridge and even create mold. Garlic does better stored dry and at room temperature. If you are worried about a garlicky smell, you can use a sealed container or screw-top see-through container so you always know how much you have.
Onions – whole fresh onions are better if kept at room temperature in a cool, dry place such as a cellar or a garage, however, they can also simply be kept at room temperature if space is an issue (they just last a little less this way). Once they are open or sliced, then the are better off in the fridge, ideally in a sealed container or zip-log bag so you don’t forget they are there. If storing outside of the fridge, it is paramount to keep them ventilated or they will develop mold 9sometomes you don’t notice until you slice them open – gross!)
Potatoes and sweet potatoes – potatoes and sweet potatoes keep better outside of the fridge but can even become harmful if kept at low temperatures, as we learned in this article. The best way to store potatoes and sweet potatoes is a dry, well-ventilated place such a basket or mesh bag.
Strawberries – while the jury is out when it comes to berries in general, strawberry are defintiely better on the countertop. In the fridge, they tend to lose moisture and therefore texture and flavor.
What produce can get stored either way
While the foods above are a little fussy when it comes to the storage they like, many foods can easily be stored either way, depending on personal preference and space available.
Fruit such as nectarines, apricots, avocados, bananas, mangoes, kiwis, pears etc tend to do best on the counter until ripe and then in the fridge, to keep a little longer.
Apples can easily be stored on the countertop but take care of keeping them away from other fruits unless you want them to get them to ripe fast (often too fast!) – you can see what happens if fruit ripens too fast here!
Berries are fragile and you will find different opinions about how to best store them. Here at Mama Loves Home we find they last better outside of the fridge. However you decide to store them, make sure they are dry or they will quickly become mushy and moldy.