Refrigerators can help plenty of foods last longer, but many people don’t know that not every perishable needs to be kept in the cold.
Chef Rachel Reuben of Food Fix Kitchen makes her living teaching others how to cook. Reuben says one of the most important lessons she provides involves guidance on which foods need to be refrigerated, especially when it comes to produce.
“I think we assume everything will do better in the refrigerator but that’s not really true,” Reuben told CBS News.
Knowing what food should and shouldn’t be left to chill can ensure that what you eat maintains its quality, she explains.
While the cold can prevent many fruits and vegetables from going bad, that doesn’t mean they’ll taste as good or will be as healthy. “They will lose nutrients and flavor in the refrigerator,” Reuben said.
In the fridge, tomatoes lose their texture and potatoes can become gritty. Reuben believes other foods like apples, onions, avocados and citrus fruits are better when kept at room temperature. Bananas should never be refrigerated because they turn black faster, she says.
Berries can also be kept out of the fridge but should be eaten quickly, which is why Reuben recommends buying them in smaller quantities.
Many people refrigerate bread because there’s a widespread belief that it will reduce mold growth. However, Reuben says that cold bread tends to dry out.
Reuben also pointed out one item most people don’t refrigerate but probably should: nuts. Though it’s safe to keep nuts in the pantry, Reuben says they will actually taste better and last longer if you store them in the fridge. They also contain oil, which can go bad over time.
“If you have a large quantity of nuts that you know you’re not going to use for a long period of time, I would definitely keep nuts in the refrigerator,” she said.