Foods You Should Stop Refrigerating

When foods are clearly marked with a “refrigerate after opening” stamp—like with yogurt or milk—it’s obvious they go in the fridge. However, many fresh produce items don’t come bearing instructions. This means we’re left guessing if tomatoes are better in the fridge or in a bowl on the counter. And for many, it’s just common sense to chill all fruits and vegetables to extend freshness (other than bananas, of course).

However, according to agricultural experts, refrigerating certain types of produce can actually zap fruits and vegetables of flavor, ruin texture, and speed the spoiling process. That’s why it’s best to store these 8 produce items far away from the chill zone…


If you’ve ever made the mistake of storing a full, vibrant, fragrant green bunch of basil in your fridge, you were likely broken-hearted when the leaves turned black. Cold and moisture will discolor, wilt, and decay basil fairly quickly.

To preserve your fresh spice, place a basil bouquet in a fresh cup of water on your counter. The benefits are really two-fold—you can enjoy the springtime smell (like fresh cut flowers) while preserving the texture and flavor for much longer.


If you love avocados as much as I do, you’re lucky if you can resist scooping up and gobbling down the entire fruit (yes, it’s a form of berry) in one sitting. And the worst thing you can do is place an unripe avocado in your fridge—it will remain rock-hard and never ripen.

Since avocados don’t begin the ripening process until they’re plucked from trees, the fruit may need a few days to become the ideal firm yet velvety texture for guacamole. To help them along, let too-firm avocados ripen on your counter.  Once cut, keep the stone intact and store in the refrigerator.

Whole Melons

Melons are loved for their sweet, juicy yet firm texture. However, things can go wrong with watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe (or muskmelon) fairly quickly if you pop the whole fruit in your refrigerator.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) melons are robbed of the vital antioxidants, beta-carotene and lycopene, and speedy decay in cold, moisture-rich environments like your refrigerator.  Instead, store whole melons right there on the counter at room temperature. However, once sliced up, melons can go in the fridge in a covered container.


Have you ever wondered why onions are sold in those mesh bags? The U.S. National Onion Association assures there is a good reason. It turns out that unpeeled onions store well in a bag that allows air to circulate. They also thrive in a cool, but not cold, dry, well-aerated environment, such as your pantry or cupboard.

If you peel and use half an onion, you should store the remaining vegetable in the fridge—preferably in a covered container as the smell can be absorbed by fridge contents. Also, always keep onions far from potatoes. Potatoes (even unpeeled) release gas and moisture that accelerate onion decay.


If you think that popping your spuds in the refrigerator will keep them fresh—think again! Chilling potatoes will not only rob them of essential flavor; it will convert their starches within to sugar far more quickly, according to the Potato Growers Association of Alberta, in Canada.

To avoid totally ruining your taders, store them unwashed in a paper bag in your pantry at a cool, but not cold, temperature. You can also place them in a dark, dry, well-ventilated cupboard in a cardboard or wood box, or paper bag.  Avoid placing them in plastic or pre-washing as moisture can become trapped and accelerate veggie rot.


Similar to the onion, garlic likes to hang fancy free—meaning air ventilation is essential for keeping garlic fresh and for preventing early rot. This is why the ideal spot for your garlic bulbs is loosely tucked away in a well-ventilated pantry.

In a dark, dry, cool place the air can circulate around the pungent bulbs and keep them fresh, firm, and flavorful for up to 2 months.  You’ll only place garlic in the fridge once or twice before you realize that unpeeled heads will take on a rubbery texture and begin to sprout mold.

Squash and Pumpkin

Squash varieties may look very different. After all the adorable acorn, the fleshy orange butternut, the tubular-striped delicata, and the pale yellow spaghetti look so unalike you may think they require different storage instructions.

However, that’s not the case, if you confer to the experts at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association. They claim squashes and pumpkins of all types are best left in a cool (not cold), dry, panty to preserve texture and nutrients. Once ripe squash can be upgraded to your counter.


If you’ve ever bitten or cut into a mushy tomato—chances are you found the veggie in the refrigerator. Fresh, whole tomatoes are zapped of flavor when placed in the cold. According to the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers’ Association, the cold, moist fridge environment stalls the natural ripening process of the vibrant red fruit it is actually both a fruit and a vegetable.

To keep whole tomatoes firm and full of flavor from the supermarket or farmer’s market, store them in a bowl on your counter until ripe. The natural ripening process for tomatoes takes roughly 2 to 3 days. Also, don’t store tomatoes in plastic where they’ll inevitably turn mushy. If a bag is required, always use paper.


Emily Lockhart

Emily Lockhart is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer. She believes that being healthy is a lifestyle choice, not a punishment or temporary fix to attain a desired fitness or body image goal. Anna helps her clients take responsibility for their own health and wellness through her classes and articles on ActiveBeat.