If you’re on a never-ending quest to find space in your refrigerator, good news! There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that don’t require constant cold air to keep them from browning or developing mold. In fact, sometimes a lower temperature can actually do more harm than good by stalling the ripening process, and according to a study in the National Library of Medicine, could reduce your produce’s most coveted nutrients.
Here are 10 common fruits and vegetables you can remove from your crisper to live out the rest of their lives in room temperature bliss.
I love watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew for the sweet, sappy bites, but these fruits are also chock-full of vitamins and antioxidants that can strengthen your immune system. Unfortunately, you lose the health benefits of the fruits when they are sliced or cubed and stored in the fridge. Keep them out on the counter until you’re ready to cut them up and enjoy, but don’t bite off more than you can chew: any leftovers should be wrapped tightly, preferably with the rind still intact, before refrigerating.
2. Onions and Garlic
A refrigerator packs a lot of humidity, and onion and garlic are no fans of moisture. They’ll soften and grow mold in no time.They are better stored in a cool, dry place like a pantry or root cellar. Keep your onions away from your potatoes, though, because they’ll mold a lot quicker due to the released ethylene gas.
Want to ripen bananas quickly? Place a bunch of these bad boys in the fridge. But if they’re already yellow and you want to prolong their life, cover the stem with plastic wrap, which blocks the release of ethylene and store them at room temperature.
Hot or bell, these veggies stop ripening when placed in the refrigerator. The depth of flavor and sweetness will intensify if they’re simply left on your kitchen counter.
I'm not entirely sure who’s putting potatoes in the refrigerator to begin with, but for those who are: Please stop. The tuber, including its sweet variety, fares best inside a paper bag in a cool, dark place.
6. Tropical Fruit
Fruits like pineapple, mango, kiwi, and papaya are harvested from warm climates, so it only makes sense that they despise the cold. Enjoy them within days of purchasing or chop them into larger pieces and freeze in an airtight container or zip top bag, where they’ll remain fresh for a year or more!
7. Stone Fruit
You’ll want any fruit with a pit to ripen at room temperature before placing them in the fridge. This includes avocados, peaches, apricots and plums. Perform a simple ripe test—the surface is soft and yields to slight pressure—then and only then, pop them in the fridge.
8. Citrus Fruit
Lemons and grapefruits and limes, oh my! Your favorite thick-skinned citrus fruits do not require refrigeration whatsoever. And they’ll last in something as basic as a fruit basket for weeks on end.
Save your basil from an inevitable fridge death. All you have to do is take the sweet herb, trim its ends, and then place it in a cup of water. This will maintain its crunch, flavor, and vibrant green color until you’re ready to use it.
Refrigerators will strip moisture from freshly-picked, juicy tomatoes. To prevent this from happening, simply store them in a cool, dry place at room temperature. But don’t stack or cluster them! Tomatoes are very fragile and can bruise easily.