Does mustard go in the fridge? What about eggs? It pays to know what needs to be refrigerated, what doesn’t, and what could be put anywhere.
According to the CSIRO – and common sense – refrigeration reduces the rate at which food will deteriorate. Low temperatures slow down the growth of microorganisms and the rate of chemical (including enzymic) change, the two main causes of food spoilage. Some foods, however, are best kept out of the fridge.
“There is some level of choice in how we store low-risk foods,” says the CSIRO’s Dr Rozita Vaskoska. “Fruit, potatoes, and unopened jams don’t need to be refrigerated. But once cut or opened, refrigeration will help prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria or formation of toxins from moulds respectively.”
Here’s the low-down:
Almond meal and ground nuts: Do refrigerate. They will stay fresh longer, and be protected from pantry moths.
Apples: Don’t refrigerate in the cooler months. In summer, the fridge will give them a few more days.
Avocados: Don’t refrigerate. Allow them to ripen naturally at room temperature. If you need to store longer, refrigerate to slow down the ripening process.
Bananas: Don’t refrigerate, but do keep an eye on them, as they soften quickly. If they suddenly become over-ripe, make banana bread, or mash and freeze for future use. You can refrigerate a ripe banana to have the next day – the skin will turn black, but the banana itself will be fine.
Bread: Don’t refrigerate, as the cold temperature will cause the starch in your bread to recrystallise and lose moisture, leaving it dry and stale. Keep at room temperature or in the freezer.
Chocolate: Chocolate should be stored in a cool, dry space. When there isn’t one (such as in a heatwave), the fridge is your friend. Keep all chocolate tightly wrapped, as moisture can affect the texture (if it lasts long enough to be affected).
Eggs: Do refrigerate – it will maintain egg quality and help them last longer. Store in their carton to reduce moisture loss through the shell.
Figs, lychees, pomegranates: Do refrigerate.
Honey: Do not refrigerate. Kept at room temperature, honey will not spoil. In the fridge, it will harden and potentially crystallise.
Lemons and limes: Do refrigerate because they will last longer, but there is no real need if you use them quickly.
Mustard: Do refrigerate. Be advised by the label instructions, but once opened, it will taste fresher longer if refrigerated.
Nut butters: Do refrigerate, or the oils may separate and could become rancid.
Olive oil: Don’t refrigerate, or it will solidify. Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight (not next to the stovetop).
Onions: Don’t refrigerate. They don’t like the moisture in the fridge and can soften and rot. Same with whole garlic (but refrigerate, covered, once chopped).
Potatoes: Don’t refrigerate, as cold temperatures can kickstart greening and sprouting. Store in a cool, dark, airy place.
Pumpkin and butternut squash: Don’t refrigerate when whole, and do refrigerate when chopped.
Soft berries and cherries: Do refrigerate, but don’t wash until just before eating.
Sweetcorn: Do refrigerate because their sugars convert to starches as soon as the cobs are picked. The cold will slow down the process and help them last longer.
Tomato sauce: Do or don’t? Some people insist the acidity in the sauce is enough to inhibit bacterial growth. Best to read the advice on the label.
Tomatoes: Don’t (ever) refrigerate. The cold temperature kills the flavour and turns the flesh mealy. That wonderful tomato freshness can never be regained.
Vegemite: Seriously? People store Vegemite in the fridge? Even the Vegemite website says it is a shelf-stable product, and, once opened, can be stored in the cupboard or pantry until the best-before date. Let’s not get carried away here.
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