It's practically a reflex at this point — if you want your groceries to stay fresh, you stick them in the refrigerator to extend the products' shelf life. While that practice greatly benefits certain items (such as dairy, meats, and eggs), others may actually be negatively affected by a stint in the fridge.
When it comes to storing your food properly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published extensive instructions on how to prevent foodborne illnesses. Among the biggest threats are microorganisms such as salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and C. botulinum, which causes botulism, but the FDA assures consumers that as long as they keep their fridge and freezer at the correct temperatures and pay attention to "best by" labels, they have nothing to fear. Below are the 11 items you shouldn't be keeping in your fridge:
Keeping your bread in the refrigerator will cause it to dry out quickly. Instead, try leaving out as much as you can eat within four days, then freeze the rest for later consumption.
Refrigerating tomatoes stops the ripening process — altering the flavor — and they can become mealy.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) warns of melons' chilling sensitivity, listing "brown-staining of the rind, surface pitting, deterioration of flavor, fading of flesh color, and increased incidence of decay" as observed effects.
Cold potatoes will convert starch into sugar more quickly, making them gritty, so try keeping your potatoes in a dark, cool place as close to 45 degrees instead.
Try keeping your onions out of the fridge to prevent them from becoming moldy, mushy, or even sprouting.
6. Hard liquor
Hard liquor is just fine at room temperature. In fact, Ethan Kelley, head spirit sommelier and beverage director for the Brandy Library in New York City, says that hard liquor remains good for six to eight months after being opened.
The National Honey Board claims that honey has a remarkably long shelf life, but changes in temperature can cause it to crystallize and lose its flavor. Keeping honey in stable conditions is crucial.
Coffee does best in cool, dark, dry storage and will absorb other foods' aromas if exposed to them long enough. Coffee can be frozen in mass quantities, however, and retain its flavor.
Basil will wilt in the fridge, but there are plenty of ingenious ways to preserve this herb — including blanching or freezing into cubes. For more, check out these top ways to keep herbs fresh.
Like onions, garlic can become rubbery and sprout while in the fridge. Instead, stash them somewhere dark and dry.
11. Hot sauce
Hot sauce doesn't require refrigeration to stay fresh, and can be stored at room temperature for years before spoiling.