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Don’t Stick These Foods in the Fridge


What do potatoes, tomatoes and onions have in common? You may find them somewhere they ought not be. The refrigerator.

Don’t stick that onion in the fridge! You might think that you’re being resourceful. You might think you’re stretching your dollars by prolonging the life of your produce. But what you’re really doing is making them taste worse — a lot worse.

When it comes to produce, there’s a simple rule to follow (disclaimer: it isn’t 100 percent fool-proof, because even supermarkets get it wrong sometimes): if it’s not being kept cold at the supermarket, don’t put in in your fridge at home.

The fruits and veggies that most often get mistreated are onions, potatoes and tomatoes. (And the banana too, but we won’t get into that again.) These three items are at their best when kept out of the fridge. Yes, they’re still edible if refrigerated. And yes, they might technically have a longer life-span in your crisper drawer. But if you care about flavor, leave them out.

Here’s why:

Take potatoes: refrigeration hastens the transformation of their starch into sugar, hence, the oddly “sweet” potato that wasn’t originally one, which is why it’s best to keep spuds in the pantry.

Tomatoes also have a bad reaction when in the cold: they get soft and mushy. When you refrigerate tomatoes, the membranes in the cell walls become damaged which creates an overall mealy texture. Instead, store tomatoes at room temperature, out of the sunlight (which can ripen the fruit unevenly), and stem side up for minimal bruising.

Onions, just like tomatoes, become soft in the fridge — and what’s an onion without its crisp bite? They also have the tendency to impart their flavor on the entire produce neighborhood. And while you might love the taste of onions, you probably don’t want everything to taste like one. It’s best to keep whole onions in a warm dry place until they’re cut. Once cut, you should store them in the fridge, covered; they will keep for a few days.

And whatever you do, never store your onions and potatoes together. Onions and potatoes can both give off gases that will cause the other to spoil faster.

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