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22 foods that should not be refrigerated

When it comes to food storage, refrigeration isn’t always necessary. In fact, cold storage can even negatively impact the quality of certain foods.

Properly storing different foods is key to keeping them tasting their best. Before storing food, review this helpful guide for insight into which foods not to refrigerate and why.

A person placing leftovers in the fridge A person placing leftovers in the fridge

22 foods not to refrigerate

Whether you’re looking to optimize food storage for the week’s meal prepping or keeping a more organized fridge and pantry, it’s important to understand that refrigeration isn’t always the answer. Before storing food, remember to check the packing instructions for specific details on where to place items in your fridge or pantry.

The following list features 22 foods that can and should be stored outside of the refrigerator to help maintain their freshness and flavor.

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1. Apples

Apples can stay fresh and delicious for up to a week or two on the counter. After that time frame, store them in the fridge so they remain ready to eat for a little longer.

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2. Avocados

When stored at room temperature, avocados are more likely to ripen faster than when stored in the fridge.

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3. Bananas

Bananas should be kept on your countertop, in your pantry or hanging from a banana hook. This will help the bananas become ripe, and prevents the peel from browning as quickly.

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4. Bell peppers

Bell peppers should be stored at room temperature. If you put them in the refrigerator, their exterior may not be as crunchy.

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5. Berries

To help ensure that berries stay fresh for longer, store outside of the refrigerator. Moisture buildup may damage the fruit, so it’s best to keep them out of the refrigerator and not wash them until you are ready to consume them.

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6. Bread

When stored in the fridge, bread can become stale. Instead, keep bread on the counter for the first 24 hours, then freeze it and use a toaster to thaw before eating.

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7. Chocolate

When left in the fridge, chocolate may become grainy and have a dull flavor. Instead, opt to store it in a dark, dry place.

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8. Coffee

Keep coffee grounds and beans out of the fridge and in an alternate location like inside a sealed container in the pantry to help maintain their flavor.

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9. Cucumber

Avoid storing cucumbers in the fridge, which may cause them to become watery and develop pits in their skin. Instead, opt to place them in an air-tight container in your pantry or on your countertop.

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10. Garlic

Storing garlic in the fridge can make the bulbs rubbery—instead, keep them in a cool, dry place like the cellar or in a cupboard away from heat sources like your cooktop.

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11. Honey

Honey can turn hard and lumpy if it is placed in the fridge. To maintain its smooth gooey drip, it’s best to leave honey at room temperature.

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12. Hot sauce

Maintain the robust flavor and heat of the peppers by keeping hot sauce out of the fridge and in your pantry, unless instructed otherwise on the packaging.

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13. Melon

Allow whole melons to ripen outside of the fridge. (If sliced, however, melon pieces should be refrigerated.)

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14. Nuts

Protect the flavor of nuts like cashews and almonds by stashing them in an airtight container outside of the fridge.

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15. Olive oil

Olive oil can harden in the fridge. Avoid this by storing in a cool, dark area in your kitchen.

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16. Onions

Moisture in the fridge can cause onions to become soft and moldy. Instead, store them in a cool, dry place away from potatoes.

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17. Peanut butter

Peanut butter can be kept creamy and spreadable at room temperature for up to three months—then you can place it in the fridge.

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18. Pickles

Pickles are already preserved and can be safely kept in jars, allowing you to conserve space inside your refrigerator for other items. However, if you have store-bought pickles, follow the package instructions for refrigeration, if necessary. 

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19. Potatoes

Because the moisture of the fridge can make them gritty and sweet, potatoes are best kept at room temperature in a paper bag.

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20. Soy sauce

The fermentation process involved with soy sauce means you can store it in a cabinet for up to a year. Again, always follow the instructions on your packaging as not every product is the same.

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21. Tomatoes

Store tomatoes at room temperature outside of the fridge to help protect their flavor and juiciness.

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22. Vinegar

High acidity levels of vinegar make it ideal for storing at room temperature.

What are shelf-stable foods?

Shelf-stable foods are items that can be stored on a pantry shelf or in a cabinet for up to one year or longer. Additionally, these items do not have to be cooked or refrigerated before eating.

Many of the examples above can be considered shelf-stable foods. Other examples include canned varieties of meats, fish, fruit and vegetables, as well as a variety of grains like cereal, crackers and granola. Keeping shelf-stable foods like these in your kitchen is an effective way to maintain an organized and uncluttered fridge. Shelf-stable foods also come in handy if you don’t have a working fridge available and still need to store items.

How do I ensure proper food storage in my refrigerator?

It is important to store food in the right place to help ensure the right taste and texture. Arrange your refrigerator in such a way that it facilitates proper food storage and helps minimize potential spoilage.

For optimal food storage, it is generally advised to keep the top shelves clear for prepared foods, leftovers, and other items that are ready to eat while lower shelves are generally cooler and reserved for raw ingredients such as meat.

Explore Whirlpool® refrigerators

Whirlpool® refrigerators come in a variety of options and styles designed to help you keep your kitchen organized and optimize food storage. Get the space you need with purposeful storage zones that help you organize fresh and frozen foods. Browse the full collection of French door, side-by-side, top-freezer and bottom-freezer refrigerators by Whirlpool brand to find the one that’s right for your home.

Get more food storage tips with Whirlpool brand

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