After spending time in the grocery store, your sole goal when you get home is to get everything away as quickly as possible. You throw the pantry stuff in the pantry and cold stuff in the fridge and call it a day. But really what you are doing is creating an extra trip to the store a lot sooner than you’d like to go.
Believe it or not, you could be putting grocery items in your fridge incorrectly. All foods have unique molecular compositions. Some are full of starch and others gluten, and each food reacts differently to its environment. And while we see our refrigerator as a cold preservation box, it wasn’t designed to keep every food item fresh.
A refrigerator causes the molecular structure of certain foods to alter for two main reasons. The first is obvious: the extreme cold temperature. In the case of foods with starch and gluten (like bread), this sends food into a “retrogradation,” the process of starches converting and hardening into a stale state due to the cold. The other major factor is moisture, which not only changes the flavor of certain foods (such as tomatoes), but can also cause them to grow mold more quickly and change their natural consistency, rendering them useless.
To help you make sure that you save your food from an untimely death, we pulled together a list of grocery items that don’t belong in your fridge, no matter how cold you think they should be!
Bread Because of bread’s unique molecular composition of starch and gluten, putting bread in the fridge will cause it to get stale six times faster. When bread bakes, its chemical composition automatically begins changing, the heat allowing the molecules in the dough to expand and form fluffy bread. As soon as it begins the cooling process, these molecules begin crystallizing and slowly revert back to a hardened state. Putting it in the fridge accelerates this process and makes it dry out.
Tomatoes It may seem strange, but tomatoes belong on your countertop to be enjoyed at peak ripeness. Because they are such delicate fruits, their thin cell wall membranes get damaged at the cold temperature and affect taste.
Keeping potatoes in the fridge will not only cause them to sprout, it will cause them to convert their starch to sugar, altering their flavor and shelf life.
Due to their thin skin, onions do not have a lot of protection against the elements. The moisture from the cold in the refrigerator will make onions mushy and grow mold.
Your hot sauce can live in your pantry for up to three years! Plus, it tastes better at room temperature, since the cold dulls the zesty zing of hot sauce.
In the fridge, garlic will begin to sprout. It can become rubbery and doesn’t retain that potent flavor. Store it a dry place so it lasts longer.
Your honey will stay sweet if you keep it in your cabinets in a closed container. Moisture in the refrigerator will cause the quality to change in your honey and crystallization will eventually render the honey un-squeezable.
If you want your coffee to actually wake you up in the morning, keep it out of the fridge! Excessive heat, light, air, and most importantly, moisture, will cause the coffee to deteriorate. The National Coffee Association recommends that coffee drinkers invest in an airtight canister to keep their grounds fresh.
In the fridge, basil leaves will turn super black and slimy. To keep them fresh for up to a week or more, trim the stems and place in a mason jar full of water with a plastic bag over the leaves.