Is your fridge overfilled? Crammed to overflowing, even? Welcome to the club. Surprisingly, many foods don't need to be in there, and some even taste a lot better if left at room temperature — clearing them out can create much-needed space. If you regularly reach all the way to the back to find your favorite item in less-than-perfect condition, you're not the only one. Evicting these 10 common foods will not only open up space, but help improve flavor and longevity, too.
While most of us keep berries refrigerated to help them last longer, refrigeration can actually cause the opposite effect. Your fridge is a strong source of moisture, which can cause berries to decline and rot much faster than they would if left at room temperature. If kept too cold, they can even acquire frost damage, rendering them inedible. Strawberries, specifically, dry out at a rapid rate. Keeping your berries in a bowl on the countertop doesn't just make them more tempting; it preserves flavor and longevity, too. One trick: don't wash them until you're about to eat them!
Avocados might taste great as guacamole, but even that isn't doable when you're left with a stale, mushy product. Contrary to popular belief, refrigerating avocados, even if they're rock hard, will not help them ripen. Instead, they'll go straight to mush while taste is simultaneously swept out. Once cut, this changes, but until then, store them in a brown paper bag to help hasten ripening without the squishiness.
If tomatoes are kept in the fridge long enough, they lose pretty much all flavor. Not only does cooling kill that tart goodness, but it also results in shriveled fruit, followed by rapid rotting. Keep your tomatoes at room temperature on your kitchen table, and you'll enjoy maximum flavor benefits coupled with a longer lifespan. That sweet, tangy flavor that tomato lovers adore is hard to achieve in the fridge. Try to use the whole tomato each time, too, so you aren't left with grainy, chilled quarters you'll probably just toss anyway.
You might have already heard this one, but honey is the only food that doesn't go bad. That's right — it never spoils. It can sit open in your cupboard for years or in the tomb of a noblewoman for millennia and it won't go bad. The catch? Since honey contains no water, mixing it with H2O is the sole cause of spoiling, and some not-so-savvy bakers have found this out the hard way. Store your honey in a cool, dry place, and that bottle will last a lifetime. Given its sweet, buttery taste, however, there's no reason why it should.
Have you really been storing it wrong all these years? The answer is probably yes. Hot sauce, even after it's opened, never needs to be refrigerated. Each bottle can last a solid three to five years after opening without compromising quality — major benefits of its high vinegar and salt content. If the thought of five-year-old Tabasco seems dauting, just pay attention to the "Best Enjoyed By" date, up to which you'll savor the strongest taste. Flavor can fade with time, but most hot sauce aficionados will have polished their bottles off long before then.
Despite popular belief, storing bread in the fridge doesn't help keep it fresh; it has an adverse effect. Cooling speeds up dehydration, resulting in a dry, rock-hard texture. Only purchase what you need and plan to consume quickly, store at room temperature, and wrap up any cut pieces in plastic sandwich bags or storage containers to help maintain freshness. This was the traditional way bread was bought and stored, and it worked for a reason. Do note that some wheat products — like tortilla wraps — recommend refrigerating. Those ones are your call.
This might surprise you, but your favorite burger toppings fare perfectly fine in the pantry. Both ketchup and mustard have high acid content that helps prevent bacteria, so they can last a few weeks without cooling. If you bought the family size ketchup bottle and expect it to last past a month, just toss it into the fridge after a few weeks and enjoy at your leisure thereafter.
Another common burger topping, onions require no refrigeration. They maintain flavor and longevity best in dry areas, especially since their strong scent can taint adjacent foods. Onions aren't a countertop inhabitant, however. Store them in a dark area or they could sprout, and you'll be fresh out of luck.
This lunchtime staple enjoys a creamier, more spreadable texture when left lukewarm, so leave it out of the fridge. Most peanut butter can last a few months after opening, making it the ideal addition to any pantry. The exception is organic, natural nut butters. Since they don't contain the same preservatives found in common brands like Skippy or Jif, they don't keep as long, lasting about a month before spoiling. Adding organic peanut butter to the fridge will stretch its usage, but if you have it on toast every single morning, the cupboard is likely fine.
The same way that hot sauce doesn't need to be refrigerated, neither does its namesake. Peppers do just fine on their own and can last a good five days without cooling. Moisture is a major factor in the molding process, which is why peppers perform better on the shelf. If you've cut or diced them, refrigeration is beneficial, but they're best consumed by the one-week mark either way, ensuring optimum freshness and flavor.
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