The home refrigerator was a great technological advancement for food storage. Yet sometimes for our fruits and veggies, it doesn’t keep foods fresher longer. Instead, it can make them mealy, mushy or even inedible. Keep these 10 fruits and vegetables on the counter, in a hanging fruit basket or in a dark, dry cupboard rather than your refrigerator to keep them at their best.
- Bananas: The cold of the refrigerator will blacken the skin of the banana fruit. It also ripens the banana fruit and can make it mushy before its time. Keep bananas on the counter or in a hanging fruit basket.
- Tomatoes: The refrigerator will make tomatoes mealy and dull. Keep tomatoes on the counter away from sunlight. If your tomatoes are underripe, place them on a windowsill to ripen.
- Avocados: Avocados need to ripen off the tree, so leave them on the counter until they’re completely ripe. Once they’ve ripened, you can use the fruit crisper drawer to stall the ripening process before you cut open your avocados. If you’re storing cut avocado, leave the pit in the half you’re storing. Rub lemon or lime juice over the top of the cut flesh to slow browning and store the avocado half in an airtight container. When you’re ready to use the avocado, you may need to scrape off a layer of discoloration, but the remaining fruit will be green. If you make guacamole, toss the pit into the airtight container to keep the leftover guacamole green, too!
- Melons: Whole melons like cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew should be kept at room temperature before they’re cut to keep antioxidants at their most potent. Once cut, keep melons in the refrigerator for up to four days.
- Citrus: Oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruit can be stored on the countertop for up to a week. For longer food storage, and for more delicate citrus like tangerines, choose a ventilated bag in the refrigerator’s fruit crisper instead.
- Apples: Apples are best kept on the counter or in a hanging basket for the first week after being picked. If you plan to have them longer, you can chill them in the refrigerator for a few days.
- Stone Fruits: Peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums ripen at room temperature. If you plan on eating them right away, store them on the counter. For longer-term storage, you can place them in the fruit crisper once the fruit is ripe.
- Potatoes: The cold temperatures break down starches in the potato. That breakdown makes the potatoes gritty and overly sweet. It’s best to keep potatoes in a cool, dry and dark place like a cupboard.
- Onions: Humidity in the refrigerator makes onions moldy and mushy. Keep them in a hanging basket or a cupboard out of direct sunlight. Once the onions are cut, place them in an airtight container in your vegetable crisper.
- Garlic: Store garlic in a cool, dry and ventilated container. If kept in the refrigerator, garlic will lose its flavor. Be sure to use the cloves of garlic within 10 days of breaking open the head of garlic.
Read our tips on storing fresh fruits and vegetables for more information.