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Which foods need refrigeration?

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Not all foods in the refrigerator really belong there. Refrigeration actually harms some foods. It may not be necessary to use electricity to run such large refrigerators all the time if foods that should not be refrigerated or those that do not require refrigeration are stored elsewhere.

Apples can lose antioxidants in their skin when refrigerated and will last about a week with no refrigeration. To keep them longer than that, refrigerate them.

Avocados should be left out to ripen unless they will not be eaten for a while. When using only half an avocado, save the half with the pit to prevent browning and keep it in the refrigerator.

Bananas should ripen at room temperature but can be stored in the refrigerator to slow more ripening. The cold will turn the peels brown but the banana inside is not affected. Overly ripe bananas can be frozen and used in smoothies and breads or eaten like ice cream. The frozen peels slice off easily.

Bread after being refrigerated loses its flavor and gets tough. Do not refrigerate it, but loaves and parts of loaves can be frozen for later use. Other baked goods also get stale faster in the refrigerator.

Butter can be left outside the refrigerator but in extreme heat may melt. The butter dish should be cleaned well each time it is emptied to prevent rancid oil. See the picture of a French butter keeper in which butter is stored upside down underwater inside an air pocket and the water must be changed every three days.

Coffee beans and grounds should be stored in airtight containers not in a refrigerator. Many people freeze them but the condensation can change the flavor noticeably. Leftover brewed coffee is fine refrigerated for iced coffee.

Eggs in uncracked shells may be left out for a few days if they are organic, but refrigerated eggs will last longer.

Garlic bulbs hung in mesh bags for air circulation will last for a couple months outside the refrigerator. In a humid
refrigerator, they may begin to sprout more quickly and pass on the garlic odor.

Honey will crystallize if refrigerated and will last for years on pantry shelves. It can be warmed slightly to remove crystals, but is best left at room temperature.

Hot sauce that is vinegar-based will last on a pantry shelf for months. Refrigerating it can change the flavor and its
pourability.

Jams and jellies once opened should be refrigerated.

Ketchup can be left at room temperature. Sometimes in restaurants the ketchup will have "worked" and has a fizz to it, but it is probably from continually refilling bottles from larger containers.

Mayonnaise opened should be refrigerated.

Melon uncut should be allowed to ripen on a counter. Cut melon must be refrigerated but not frozen.

Mustard can be left on pantry shelves but refrigeration does not hurt it.

Nut oils must be refrigerated even though they will harden and turn cloudy, but other oils do not need refrigeration. Let refrigerated oils warm up a bit to be pourable.

Onions should be kept hanging in a mesh bag for air circulation, not refrigerated, and kept away from potatoes. Potato gases and moisture cause onions to rot.

Peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums, and apricots should be kept at room temperature to ripen with the stem side down, then moved to the refrigerator where they last up to 5 days. They can be frozen or dried.

Peanut butter commercially processed and even in opened jars does not need refrigeration. All-natural peanut butter must be refrigerated since the separated peanut oil can become rancid.

Soy sauce, despite the "refrigerate after opening" label, contains so much salt that it does not need refrigeration. It should be kept out of sunlight for best flavor.

Spices last for years outside the refrigerator. Storing them inside a humid refrigerator may affect their flavor. They should not be stored over a stove where heat can change their flavor as well.

Tomatoes should be kept at room temperature out of sunlight. They get mushy and mealy if stored in cold temperatures.

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