What are the 20 foods that you should never refrigerate?

In this article, we will answer the question “What are the 20 foods that you should never refrigerate?”

What are the 20 foods that you should never refrigerate?

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in developed countries, approximately 40% of the food wastage occurs at the consumer level. A significant portion of a consumer’s daily food is stored in the refrigerator and most of the discarded food is primarily because they have surpassed the expiration date printed on the packaging (1). 

It is proven that in the cold storage for perishable products, the temperature plays an important role since the main factor for sustaining the quality of products is by controlling the temperature. Temperature is an important factor because temperature affects the life of the fresh product by directly affecting the rates of biochemical activities. Maintaining a food’s temperature at 10°C colder than the temperature commonly experienced when handled during ambient conditions can double the shelf life of that food (2).

Low-temperature storage is a post harvest technology used widely to extend postharvest life horticultural produce. Refrigerated storage of fruits and vegetables allows the preservation of their quality after harvest, because low temperatures decrease the speed of cell metabolism and delay plant senescence in general and fruit ripening in particular. However, certain tropical and subtropical fruits and vegetables are not suitable for this type of storage, since it causes the appearance of physiological disorders that negatively affect their quality. The whole set of these alterations is known as chilling injury. This physiological disorder is manifested at temperatures above 0°C, around 8°C for subtropical plant species and around 12°C for tropical ones (3).

  1. Melons 

Whole melons like watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew are better off stored on the counter. Once cut, wrap the exposed flesh of the melon with cling film and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Research suggests that keeping the melons on the counter prevents the antioxidant loss that results from refrigeration (3). 

  1. Tomato 

Refrigerating the tomatoes turns them mealy and strips them of their freshness. Your best bet is to keep the tomatoes on the counter in a well-ventilated environment for no more than 2 days (5).

  1. Apples 

Apples can last for up to a week in a cool, and dry place, away from direct heat. Consider refrigerating the apples if you haven’t eaten them even after 1 week (2).

  1. Avocado 

Whole avocados should always be kept at room temperature to preserve their creamy texture. Once cut, wrap the exposed flesh with cling film and refrigerate (5).

  1. Bananas 

Bananas are tropical fruit and do not do well when refrigerated. Store the bananas in a cool and well-ventilated place or on the counter for optimal freshness. Bananas can also be frozen for extended shelf life. Peeled and frozen bananas can be used to make smoothies (5).

  1. Oranges 

All the citrus fruits including oranges, lemons, and limes should always be kept on the counter. When refrigerated, oranges lose their juiciness and tangy flavor. Make sure the oranges are not kept in a congested place or else they rot (5).

  1. Berries 

These fruits are characterized by their acidic taste and can be consumed fresh or frozen. According to studies, The most extended methods to maintain quality during the postharvest period are prompt precooling and storage at low temperatures (7). Berries are best consumed fresh. If you are not going to consume the berries within 12 hours, it is better to refrigerate or freeze them. Prolonged refrigeration makes the berries mushy and reduces their natural sweetness. 

  1. Peaches and apricots 

Stone fruits such as peaches and apricots are best stored on the counter, when not ripe. This allows the stone fruits to ripen naturally and become sweeter. When the ripening is completed, stone fruits can be refrigerated for up to 5 days to avoid rot (5).

  1. Onions 

The bulbs remain dormant at both low and high temperatures allowing high temperature storage in the tropics and refrigerated storage in temperate regions (8). Onions are best stored in a cool, dark, dry, and well-ventilated place. This will preserve the crispy texture of the fresh onions and prevent them from becoming moldy or mushy. Once cut, onions should be refrigerated for 7-10 days.

  1. Garlic 

Refrigeration strips the garlic cloves of their strong flavor. Studies observed that the antioxidant potential of garlic decreases, with the increasing temperature (9). As long as the peels are intact, garlic cloves can sit on the counter for up to 10 days without going bad. However, garlic can also be stored at refrigeration temperatures without damage (6).

  1. Squashes 

Squashes such as Butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and pumpkins can be stored on the counter for about a month or even longer (6).

  1. Potatoes 

Refrigeration tends to reduce the starch content of the potatoes due to which they lose their desirable texture and flavor. For optimal freshness, potatoes should be kept in a cool and dry place, away from sunlight and direct sources of heat (5).

  1. Bread 

Bread is best stored on the counter. Refrigeration does prevent the bread from becoming moldy but it also speeds up the staling process. If the outside temperature is cool and the bread will be consumed within the best-by date printed on its package, it is better off kept on the counter (10).

  1. Hot sauce 

Hot sauce contains a rich amount of vinegar that itself acts as a preservative. After opening the hot sauce bottle, it can be kept safely under refrigeration.on the counter. Moreover, refrigeration tends to reduce the hotness of the hot sauce. However, a study showed that the chemical compounds of chili pepper Dihydrocapsaicin decreased 20.6% to 21.2% at refrigeration temperature (2°C to 5°C) and 28.8% to 29.9% at room temperature (5°C to 35°C), while capsaicin decreased 14.5% to 15.0% at refrigeration temperature and 20.9% to 21.9% at room temperature (11).

  1. Herbs 

The cold and dry environment of the fridge tends to make the herbs wilt faster, however, if they are not going to be consumed in the same day, it is necessary to store them in the fridge. In a study minimally processed parsley sealed in polyethylene bags was stored at 4°C for 12 days and had a shelf life of up to 12 days of storage, with little modifications of sensory parameters (12). The best way to store fresh herbs and preserve their crispness is by placing them in a glass jar filled with water.

  1. Spices 

Spices are best stored in a cool and dry environment. Refrigeration is unnecessary for spices. Moreover, the humidity inside a refrigerator may lead to the lumping of spices. Spices are also stored in a cool, dry place, away from exposure to bright light, heat or moisture (13).

  1. Coffee 

Coffee is best stored in an air-tight container in the pantry. The humid environment of the fridge destroys the flavor of the coffee due to condensation. Oxygen, light, temperature, moisture, packaging and extraneous odors have the most significant influence on the quality of coffee during storage even those can cause stalling (14). 

  1. Honey 

Due to a rich amount of sugars, honey has a pretty long shelf-life. What mostly happens is that honey substantially loses its quality before ever going bad. 

The refrigeration environment promotes crystallization in honey and ruins its natural texture and flavor. For optimal freshness, store honey on the counter.  Basically, microbes cannot replicate in honey and the existence of high numbers of vegetative bacteria might be due to recent contamination. Besides, honey contamination with spores of Clostridium has been documented in many countries (15).

  1. Nuts 

Although nuts do not go rancid in the fridge, they lose their nutty flavor instead. Moreover, shelled nuts easily pick up undeniable odors during refrigeration. For optimal freshness, store the nuts in a cool, dark, and dry place such as the pantry or a kitchen cupboard. Storage of kernels with their skin (testa) on also reduces oxidative rancidity as the skin or testa acts as an oxygen barrier, minimizing lipid oxidation (16).

  1. Nutella 

Refrigeration hardens the Nutella and reduces its spreadability factor. To make sure the Nutella remains silky and smooth, store it at room temperature. Lipid oxidation is initiated by compounds known as sensitizers which include heat, light and metal ions. Lipid oxidation produces undesirable flavors, aromas and compromises the nutritional quality of fats and oils leading to the production of toxic compounds (4).


In this article, we answered the question “What are the 20 foods that you should never refrigerate?”


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