10 things you should never put in your refrigerator

Can you spot the mistakes in this fridge?

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Thank goodness for refrigerators. Without them, we’d be forced to drive to the store every day for fresh food, and I’m far too lazy for that. However, there are some things you should never put into your refrigerator—it actually turns out that your icebox can ruin some of your favorite foods.

Researchers at UC Davis say that there are certain foods that only “should be stored only at room temperature, because refrigerator temperatures (usually 38° to 42°F) damage them or prevent them from ripening to good flavor and texture.”

To keep you from ruining your favorite food prematurely, we've compiled a list of 10 items you shouldn't store in your refrigerator. Now only one problem remains: Figuring out what to do with all the leftover space in your refrigerator.

1. Coffee

hings you should never put in your refrigerator
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There’s nothing like the aroma of fresh coffee wafting through the air in the morning. Unfortunately, if you store your coffee in the refrigerator, that aroma might have a tinge of fish, pungent cheese, or just plain, old-fashioned stale refrigerator smell. Yep: Coffee doesn’t just emit aromas, it also absorbs them. In fact, coffee grounds absorb odors so well that researchers from City College of New York say carbonized coffee grounds can even be used to remove the powerful stench of sewage.

But this isn’t the only reason you shouldn’t store your coffee beans in the refrigerator. According to Starbucks coffee educator, Major Cohen, when you store java in your refrigerator, moisture builds up in the container, damaging the flavor. Do yourself a favor: Keep that coffee in the pantry for the best coffee you can make at home.

2. Basil

Things you should never put in your refrigerator
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If you’re not cooking with fresh basil, you’re missing out. I love using it for homemade pesto, pizzas, salads, and sauces. The only downside? While hardy herbs such as chives, rosemary, and sage can be stored in the refrigerator, basil wilts and turns black when you store it in your refrigerator. Luckily, there’s a trick to make it last longer.

For the best results, scientists at UC Davis recommend preserving basil in water at room temperature. Trim the stems as you would with fresh cut flowers and put them in a vase of water. Then, cover it with a loose produce bag. Change the water every couple of days and your basil will remain fresh for approximately two weeks.

3. Potatoes

Things you should never put in your refrigerator
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Like most people, I buy my potatoes in bulk and proper storage is imperative if I don’t want a significant portion of them to spoil before I get around to using them. Potatoes are best stored in a cool, dry, dark, location, according to Potatoes USA.

Unfortunately, your refrigerator is a little too cool: most refrigerators are set to about 40 degrees, a temperature at which Martha Stewart says, “the starches convert to sugar,” which alters the flavor. They also lose a lot of moisture in the refrigerator.

To best preserve the freshness of your potatoes, remove them from the bag and place them in a well-ventilated cardboard box in a cool, dry, and dark, such as a cupboard or pantry. Don’t wash your 'taters ahead of use to prevent the risk of tainting them with moisture—this will ensure that they'll be ready for your potato ricer, oven, or frialator whenever you want.

4. Tomatoes

Things you should never put in your refrigerator
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Keep these little lycopene bombs at room temperature: the refrigerator is way too cold for them. According to researchers at the University of Florida, cold temperatures alter tomatoes' makeup to the point that they stop producing the compounds that give them their rich flavor and aroma. That’s not all: If tomatoes get so cold that cold ice crystals develop inside, the consistency turns mushy, meaning you'll have toss them into some creative tomato recipes instead of enjoying them fresh. In short, keep your tomatoes on the counter. They’ll taste better and they’re pretty to look at.

5. Avocados

Things you should never put in your refrigerator
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"I enjoy unripe avocados," said no one ever. But what many people don’t know is that avocados won't ripen properly in the refrigerator. California Avocados state that avocados ripen best at a temperatures of 65-75ºF. So if you want to put those avo's into guacamole tomorrow night, be sure to keep them on the counter—because unfortunately, there's no better way to quickly ripen your avocados.

6. Garlic

Things you should never put in your refrigerator
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We always keep fresh garlic on hand in our kitchen: I use it in just about everything. But garlic bulbs are among the items you should never store in your refrigerator because they have a tendency to mold and sprout in cold temperatures or humid locations, according to Martha Stewart. Instead, garlic is best stored in a dark, dry location in a well ventilated container to make it last until it's ready for your garlic press.

7. Bread

How to soften stale bread - basket of bread
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I’m always shocked when I open up someone’s refrigerator and see a loaf of bread sitting in there. It’s so out of place it might as well be a horse in the living room. Why? Because bread dries out in cold temperatures. According to Food 52, this means it will go stale faster in your refrigerator, and this trick to freshening stale bread only works once. Storing it in the refrigerator won't slow it from molding, either.

8. Honey

Things you should never put in your refrigerator
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If you keep your honey in the refrigerator, you’re making life more difficult for yourself. According to the experts at Honey Fanatic, when honey gets too cold, it hardens and crystallizes, making it difficult to squeeze from the bottle let alone spread onto your toast or pour into your tea. Instead, honey is best stored at room temperature in a dry location. Do so, and it will last for decades.

9. Butter

Things you should never put in your refrigerator
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Yes, really! Many people are raised to believe all dairy products belong in the refrigerator, but that simply isn’t true. Butter, for instance, is perfectly safe to store at room temperature. In fact, the USDA lists butter as one of the few dairy products that's safe to keep after a power outage. Not only that, but storing it at room temperature is superior to keeping it in the refrigerator because butter hardens in the cold and becomes difficult to spread or mix into recipes.

10. Ketchup

Ketchup
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Have you ever noticed that most restaurants store ketchup at room temperature? This is due to the fact ketchup is high in acid, which preserves it without refrigeration, and it's actually more flavorful at warmer temperatures: so in short, ketchup should never enter your fridge.

However, there is a caveat: food safety expert Jeff Nelken told Vice Munchies that after 30 days, you’ll see a deterioration in quality of an open bottle left at room temperature. If you only use ketchup sporadically you can extend its shelf life by storing it in the refrigerator, but you'll sacrifice some flavor.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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