12 Foods You Don't Have to Refrigerate


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white kitchen with bananas and fruit on the table
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All foods last longer in the refrigerator, right? Nope. While refrigeration helps many foods stay fresh by slowing bacterial growth, the cold and damp conditions can change the taste and composition of many food products. From birthday cake to onions, we took a look at some common food products that fare best outside the fridge and asked that nagging question: Does ketchup really need to be refrigerated?
coffee beans spilling out of glass container
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Coffee beans, whether whole or ground, are best stored in an airtight container away from light, heat, and moisture. It's fine to freeze whole beans in airtight bags for up to a month, but don't try this with the coffee you make each morning -- the fluctuating temperatures create moisture within the bag, changing the cell structure of the coffee and, ultimately, its taste.
cherry tomatoes on vine
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There's much debate on where tomatoes should be stored. The arguments against refrigerating say cold temperatures degrade the vegetable's texture and aroma. But tomatoes stored on the kitchen counter at room temperature can ripen too quickly. According to an experiment conducted by Serious Eats, tomatoes do best when stored in the refrigerator after the first day -- however, they can be kept on the counter if your kitchen stays around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
stick of butter, cut
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What's more annoying than scraping shards of stiff, cold butter on toast at breakfast? Butter is best stored on the counter in an air-tight container, provided that the butter is pasteurized, salted, and not left out for more than a week or two.
bowl of sriracha sauce
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Common hot sauces like Cholula and Sriracha don't require refrigeration because their high amounts of chili and vinegar prevent bacterial growth. So while sauces that contain fruit, vegetables, eggs, or mayonnaise should be refrigerated, most hot sauces will do fine in the pantry.
onions on white rustic wooden background
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Storing onions in the refrigerator causes them to lose flavor and become rubbery. Onions do best in cool, dry places that have ventilation. Also, keep them away from potatoes, which release moisture and gases that can make onions spoil quickly. Note: The National Onion Association says it's fine to refrigerate sweet or high water content onions if you wrap each one in a paper towel.
head of garlic and herbs on table
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Garlic often becomes moldy and mushy in the refrigerator. A relative of the onion, garlic is best stored in an open container at room temperatures. Whole bulbs will stay good for months, but will degrade more quickly once opened.

fresh Cucumber slices on wood background
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Researchers at the University of California at Davis recommend keeping cukes out of the fridge, as these gourds tend to degrade at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. However, refrigerating cucumbers can work well when they're kept clean and dry, wrapped in paper towels, and placed in open plastic bags in the refrigerator's crisper drawer.

opened banana and bananas
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Bananas are a tropical fruit best stored in room temperatures. It's possible to store bananas in the refrigerator, but know that this causes a "chilling injury" that will destroy the ripening process and turn peels black, though it won't really hurt the taste of the fruit. Alternatively, you can speed up the ripening process by storing bananas in a fruit bowl or paper bag.
triple layer chocolate caramel cake
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According to a pastry chef interviewed by TheKitchn.com, the frosting on an uncut cake acts like plastic wrap, shielding it from air and moisture, and allowing you to store it at room temperature for four to five days. Cutting into the cake, however, shortens its shelf life by about a day. The general rule of thumb: All cake can be stored on the counter under a cover for several days, but consider wrapping and refrigerating if your kitchen is particularly warm.
opened avocado on table
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This single-seed berry (yes, avocados are technically berries) is best kept on the countertop at room temperature. That's because the cold temperatures of the refrigerator causes a "chilling injury" that slows or destroys the ripening process of avocados. However, you can store uncut ripe avocados in the refrigerator for a few days if needed.
potatoes in basket on table
Photo credit: YelenaYemchuk/istockphoto


Never refrigerate potatoes. The cold, humid conditions of the refrigerator will convert their starches into sugar, turning them mushy and changing their taste. Instead, put your potatoes in a paper (or otherwise breathable) bag and store them in a cool, dry place.
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There's an ongoing debate as to whether this acidic condiment should be kept in or out of the refrigerator. In 2017, HuffPost compiled recommendations from major ketchup brands like Heinz, Hunt's, and Del Monte, and the consensus was: Store ketchup in the refrigerator after opening the bottle.

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