For homemakers one of the true Great Debates is what must be and what must never be stored in the refrigerator. One of the most hotly debated items is butter. The USDA insists butter should be kept in its wrapper in the refrigerator while many people, including me, keep it on the counter. Butter is made from pasteurized milk so the chance of contamination is low but there’s always a slight risk. Salted butter runs a low risk but unsalted, whipped, or “light” butters have a higher risk. There are certain foods, however, for which you should always follow the rule; Do not refrigerate.
Avocados won’t ripen if stored in the refrigerator but if you have an already ripe avocado you want to keep longer the refrigerator will slow ripening.
Basil absorbs the smells of other foods in the refrigerator. You don’t want tuna scented basil! Refrigeration also causes basil to wilt faster. Store basil as if they were fresh flowers; in a cup of fresh water on the counter.
Bread dries out quickly in the refrigerator. Keep bread on the counter or in the freezer unless it’s sliced sandwich bread that you will use within a few days. Bread kept in the freezer should be wrapped to retain moisture. Let frozen bread thaw slowly and completely before eating it. Unsliced bread should be kept on the counter and sliced when you’re going to eat it.
Coffee loses flavor and takes on the odors of other foods in the refrigerator. It can be stored in the freezer but ideally it should be stored in a cool, dark place.
Garlic will start to sprout in the refrigerator after a time. It can also get rubbery and even grow moldy. Keep garlic in a cool, dry place.
Honey should be kept, tightly sealed, in a dark spot in the pantry. Raw honey will keep basically forever. Honey found in the pyramids was edible! Keeping honey in the refrigerator will cause it to crystalize.
Olive Oil should be kept in a cool, dark place but never in the refrigerator. In the cold it will condense and harden. You’ll end up with olive oil with a butter-like consistency.
Onions stored in the refrigerator will turn soft and moldy because of the moisture. You should store onions in a cool, dry spot, away from potatoes.
Potatoes turn gritty and sweet in the refrigerator. The cold turns the starch into sugar quickly. The ideal place for potatoes is a root cellar but if you don’t have one store your potatoes in a cool, but not cold, spot in the pantry. Keep potatoes in a paper bag as plastic isn’t as breathable and potatoes will rot faster in plastic.
Tomatoes should never be stored in the refrigerator. Refrigeration cause the ripening process to stop and ripening is what give tomatoes their flavor. The cold also makes the tomato mealy because it breaks down the membranes inside the fruit walls. Store your tomatoes in a bowl on the counter for the best flavor.