You think you’re doing a good thing by refrigerating your fresh foods—who wants spoilage, after all?—but certain foods actually prefer to be kept out of refrigeration, at least when you first bring them home. Here are five fresh foods that you may not want to toss in the fridge as soon as you bring them home from the market.
As with many other fruits and vegetables, placing an unripe tomato in the fridge will stop the ripening process. What you’ll end up with is a tomato that loses it characteristic green, grassy flavor and aroma, and the longer it sits in the fridge, the greater chances of it becoming mealy.
If you’re buying “ripened on the vine” tomatoes that are already soft and bright red when you bring them home, feel free to refrigerate them to keep them from getting too soft or moldy—but be aware that after a few days in the fridge, their texture will begin to get mealy.
It’s almost impossible to find an avocado at the farmers market or grocery store that’s ready to eat that day—you know it’s ripe when the fruit is slightly soft and has a bit of give when you press your finger into it. Typically, though, avocados are still firm (if not rock hard) when you buy them, and they may need anywhere from four to seven days to ripen at room temperature. Place an unripe avocado in the fridge and it will never ripen; it will stay firm and become chewy or tough.
Leave unripe avocados on the countertop until they are just soft, and if you’re not ready to use them by that point, toss them in the fridge for safe storage—they’ll keep in there once ripe for up to a week.
Raw potatoes don’t need to “ripen” like fruits might, but they can still can become compromised if you refrigerate them whole and raw. The starches in the whole potatoes will begin to turn into sugars if refrigerated, which can lead to an off-flavor and a browning of the potatoes once you cook them.
Instead, leave potatoes in a cool, dark place (a garage or kitchen cabinet is usually ideal) until you’re ready to cook with them. They’ll keep for weeks at a time left out in ideal conditions; you know they’re past their prime when they grow “eyes,” and even then you can cut the eyes off and usually still salvage the potatoes (unless they’re green; then it’s time to toss).
You’d think that there’s no issue with refrigerating garlic; you may even think that the cool storage would preserve the stuff. But refrigerated garlic actually spoils faster than it should; it grows mold and gets soft quickly in the fridge. Instead, keep your whole heads of garlic out on the countertop, perhaps in a bowl with your whole onions, and only store peeled, chopped, or cooked garlic in the fridge.
Honey is one of the world’s most naturally preserved foods. The enzymes inside it can preserve it for hundreds—if not thousands—of years without any refrigeration. It’s perfectly fine to leave your honey in the cupboard for months on end without any harm at all coming to it. In fact, refrigerating your honey will speed up the crystallization process of the sugars inside, making it hard and sugary over time.