Every Indian household has one rule, “Saara khana yaad se fridge mein rakh dena”! The temperate and tropical climate in most parts of India makes it almost mandatory for every household to have a refrigerator for food storage. Some households even have two refrigerators since there is so much food that needs to be saved for a later date. Although refrigeration extends the shelf life and preserves the freshness of many food items, there are some food items that should never see the inside of a refrigerator.
Foods That Do Not Need Refrigeration
Whether or not a certain food item needs to be stored in the refrigerator depends on the type of product. Every food item requires a different kind of environment to retain its nutrition, aroma and taste along with freshness. Here are the top ten food items that should never be put in the fridge:
Most households store their coffee in the fridge, thinking that this will elongate the shelf life of the coffee and keep it fresh. This could not be farther away from the truth. Coffee does not need cooling from the fridge to stay fresh. On the contrary, the humidity from the refrigerator can adversely affect the aroma and taste of the coffee. The moisture from the fridge will lead to clumping of the coffee and cause it to absorb the smells from other food items present in the fridge. The only situations where it is acceptable to store coffee in the freezer is when you have bought too big a batch of coffee, or if you are not a regular coffee drinker and use it very occasionally.
How To Store Coffee:
Coffee is best stored in an opaque and airtight jar; away from heat, light and humidity. The ideal place to keep coffee is in a food cupboard which is away from the heat of the stove. This storage tip works for ground coffee as well as coffee beans. If you have a large quantity of coffee, transfer it into a vacuum-sealed package and place it in the freezer for future use.
Did you know that honey is one food item that never goes bad? Even though storage and external factors might cause the appearance of honey to change, the presence of high sugar content prevents the growth of bacteria. Storing honey in a refrigerator is a bad idea because the quality of honey deteriorates in the cold temperature of the refrigerator. The sugar present in honey crystallizes in the fridge, totally ruining not only the appearance but also the flavour and benefits of honey.
How To Store Honey:
The best way to store honey is in an airtight jar. This jar should be placed in a food cupboard in your pantry which is far from extreme temperatures. Choose a cool and dry place to store your honey. Every time you use a spoon to draw honey from the jar, make sure that the spoon is dry. This is because even a small amount of water can cause fermentation in honey.
Potatoes are best stored at room temperature. Keeping them in the fridge converts the starch into sugar and makes them taste sweet. Raw potatoes will last in the fridge for 3-4 weeks but during this time, there will be considerable chemical changes in them. Raw potatoes in the fridge may also absorb odours from other foods in the fridge, affecting their flavour. Although keeping raw potatoes in the fridge is not recommended, you can use the fridge to store cut potatoes. Simply submerge your chopped potatoes in water and then place them in the refrigerator. Ensure to use these cut potatoes within a day.
How To Store Potatoes:
The easiest and most preferred way to store potatoes is to place them in cardboard or paper and place them in a dark place. This place should be away from too much heat and humidity. Storing potatoes in this manner keeps them fresh for 1-2 weeks.
Eggs are an item that is always found in the fridge. In fact, refrigerators have slots specially designed for storing eggs. However, recent research has proven that keeping eggs in the fridge can make them unfit for consumption. The moisture formed on the eggshell due to condensation in the refrigerator can lead to the growth of bacteria. This bacteria can also possibly enter the egg and cause health hazards.
How To Store Eggs:
Eggs should always be stored at room temperature. You can use the egg carton or any other container to keep the eggs. While storing eggs, one must choose a place that is free from moisture and humidity.
Do you end up eating dried bread from the refrigerator only because you think the shelf life of bread increases when it is stored in the fridge? It must be noted that bread goes stale faster when it is stored in the fridge. Storing bread in plastic bags and then placing them in the fridge causes mold growth. If you choose to keep it in paper, the moisture in the bread dries out, making the bread hard and tasteless. Thus, the refrigerator is not the right place to store bread. If you have large quantities of bread that you want to preserve for longer, put them in vacuum-sealed bags and store them in the freezer.
How To Store Bread:
Find a corner in your kitchen that is free from moisture or heat. Both these factors can quicken the growth of fungus and mould on the bread. Try keeping the bread away from heat-emitting appliances like the dishwasher or microwave. Store bread in paper if you plan to finish the bread in 2-3 days. The paper allows air to circulate and keeps the bread fresh. You can also consider investing in a bread box that has small holes that make air circulation possible and keep the bread flavorful and moist.
Just like most of the other root vegetables, moisture and light exposure are bad for garlic storage. Both of these lead to the growth of mold. Storing garlic inside the refrigerator is not recommended because of the moisture and lack of air circulation inside. While garlic can remain fresh for a couple of months in the right conditions, garlic stored in the fridge loses its flavour and begins to rot very quickly.
How To Store Garlic:
Garlic should be stored in a dry and dark place. Room Temperature is ideal for elongating its shelf life. It is recommended to place the garlic in a mesh bag to allow air circulation. Another important point to note while storing garlic is that the garlic bulb should be kept as a whole and broken down only when being used for cooking.
7. Olive Oil
Olive oil is considered to be a gourmet ingredient in Indian kitchens. Hence, a lot of thought is put into the storage of this expensive oil. Storing olive oil in the fridge is not only unnecessary but also dangerous to health. When stored at such cool temperatures, radicals can be produced in the oil. These radicals can become the cause of health problems.
How To Store Olive Oil:
Find a cool and dark place in your food cupboard for olive oil. Light and heat can alter the flavour, aroma and health benefits of the oil. It is necessary to ensure that the food cupboard is away from excessive heat, either from the stove or other kitchen appliances. Try to seal the bottle quickly after use to minimise the exposure of olive oil to oxygen in order to increase its shelf life.
It is a common misconception that all fresh vegetables should be stored in the fridge only. Some vegetables are better off being outside the refrigerators, like tomatoes. Keeping tomatoes in the fridge can cause them to lose a lot of their delicate taste and flavour. Not only this, the moisture inside the fridge can cause fungus to grow on the tomatoes, making them unsafe to consume. In terms of appearance, the skin of the tomatoes often appears shrunk due to the extreme cool temperature of the fridge. For all these reasons, tomatoes should never be stored in the fridge.
How To Store Tomatoes:
Store tomatoes at room temperature, in a place that has good air circulation. One must also keep the tomatoes spread out so that one rotting tomato does not ruin all the others. Keep the tomatoes away from direct sunlight to keep them fresh for longer. Another tip that will increase the shelf life of tomatoes is to place them stem side down in order to stop the ripening process.
Getting the storage of nuts right is extremely important because if not stored well, nuts can go rancid very quickly. Storing nuts in the fridge can cause the nuts to go bad easily. The moisture content in the fridge can lead to the growth of mold on the nuts. When stored in the fridge, the nuts can absorb the smells of other items in the fridge, affecting their taste.
How To Store Nuts:
When storing nuts for the long haul, transfer them into an airtight bag or container and place them in the freezer. If you wish to store nuts for everyday usage, place them in a tight container and keep the container in a dry, dark and cool place. Exposure to heat can reduce the life of nuts considerably. Thus, choosing a food cupboard that is away from sunlight and other sources of heat is recommended.
Storing avocado is probably the trickiest. The fruit ripens and rots at such great speed that one has to be extremely cautious about how it is being stored. Most of us buy avocados when they are just about to ripe. Keeping them in the fridge at this point can stop the ripening process. Thus, it is not recommended to store avocados in the fridge. However, if your avocado is ripe and you want to extend its life by a day or two, you can store it in the fridge to prevent it from ripening further.
How To Store Avocados:
The best way to store unripe avocados is by placing them on the kitchen countertop at room temperature. To aid the ripening process, you can wrap the avocado in paper to keep it warm. It is extremely important to keep checking on the avocado every day so that it can be used as soon as it becomes ripe.
Fortunately, we now have access to a lot of good quality produce from India and all over the world. Knowledge of how to store these ingredients is important so that there is no wastage of money and food. It is important to understand which surroundings are required for which food items to stay fresh for longer. In spite of this information, it is always a good idea to buy groceries in smaller quantities and follow the “first in first out” method while using the ingredients available at home.