As you might already know, seeing good food go to waste is one of my pet peeves. I shop for groceries frequently and try to buy only what I need, but I still end up seeing food spoil too often. I used to think that storing everything in the fridge would prolong the life of my produce. But I decided to do a little more research on how to properly store my groceries, and a few of the things I learned really surprised me. Think you know what should be stored in the fridge and what goes in the cupboard? See below to test your own kitchen knowledge and learn how to extend the shelf life of your food…
Cold temperatures cause the starches in potatoes to turn into sugar, making them oddly sweet when cooked. So, instead of putting them in the fridge, store potatoes in paper bags in a cool, dark cupboard where they will stay fresh for 1 to 3 weeks. When your potatoes start to sprout, it’s a sign that the starches have begun to break down and it’s time to toss them.
Many people store peanut butter at room temperature to make spreading easier. And sure enough, processed peanut butter containing hydrogenated oils will last in the pantry. But if you prefer natural peanut butter like I do, it should either be refrigerated or eaten within a month of opening. If you’re not sure whether your peanut butter contains preservatives, your best bet is to follow the storage instructions on the label.
This one’s a trick question because the answer is both. Stone fruits (think peaches, plums, and nectarines) will not ripen in the fridge. So make sure you store this category of fruits on the counter until they’re ripe and juicy. Once they are fully ripe, however, shift stone fruits to the fridge to extend their shelf life.
For the freshest flavor, tomatoes should always be stored at room temperature, away from direct sunlight (which can cause the fruit to ripen unevenly). The cold will turn tomatoes mealy and give them an unappetizing texture.
Similarly to tomatoes, onions take on a too-soft texture in the fridge. It’s also best to store onions away from other ingredients that might take on their overpowering flavor. Once they are cut, however, you should store them in the fridge where they will keep for a few more days.
One more thing to note… Never store your onions and your potatoes together. These two ingredients each give off moisture and gases that will cause the other to spoil faster.
Ever wondered how restaurants keep ketchup bottles on the table where they are outside of the refrigerator all day long? Because of its natural acidity, an opened bottle of ketchup will last for about a month outside of the fridge. If you do not plan on finishing the bottle of ketchup within a month, it is recommended that you refrigerate after opening to extend the shelf life to six months or more. The same goes for mustard.
Like stone fruits, apples should be left out at room temperature if they still need to ripen. Once an apple is ripe, however, storing it in the fridge will extend its shelf life dramatically from 1 to 3 days to 3 to 4 weeks! Plus, who doesn’t love biting into a crisp, cool apple?
While refrigerating bread will prevent mold, it will also cause the bread to dry out and go stale more quickly. Instead of storing bread in the fridge, freeze the portion of the loaf that you know you won’t use within four days and then keep the rest in your pantry.
Berries and Grapes
Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and grapes should all be stored in the fridge as soon as you get them hope from the market. Keeping these fruits out on the counter will only speed up their decay.
Cooking Oils (Olive, Canola, Sesame, and Truffle)
When it comes to storage, all oils are not created equal. Olive oil and canola oil do not need to be refrigerated and can actually become cloudy in cold temperatures. Sesame oil, peanut oil, and truffle oil, however, should all be stored in the fridge after opening or else they can go rancid.
Which one of these food storage tips surprised you the most?
Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips for preventing spoilage.