What shouldn't I refrigerate?
February 16, 2007 2:55 PM   Subscribe

What shouldn't I refrigerate?

I am in a dorm and have minimal storage space but there is usually extra room in my fridge. Is it ok to put foods not usually refrigerated in there to free up some space elsewhere? I know about bread, but what about oatmeal, ramen, tea, popcorn etc. ? What foods specifically should not go in the fridge? Thanks!
posted by andythebean to Food & Drink (42 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Tomatoes shouldn't, they get mealy.
posted by padraigin at 2:58 PM on February 16, 2007

Magic Shell.
posted by pieoverdone at 3:02 PM on February 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Peanut butter.
posted by MsMolly at 3:04 PM on February 16, 2007

posted by Armitage Shanks at 3:07 PM on February 16, 2007

Response by poster: why not peanut butter?
posted by andythebean at 3:09 PM on February 16, 2007

Tomatoes, more fully, because they lose flavor.
posted by sindas at 3:10 PM on February 16, 2007

I refridgerate peanut butter. You may want to mix it up when you take it out. I also store onions in the refridgerator. I have, from time to time, stored bread in the fridge (during the summer). I also store tomatoes in the fridge.

I'm making a sandwich, not a gourmet appetizer. A little loss of food quality is OK.
posted by muddgirl at 3:13 PM on February 16, 2007

Avocados have no natural relationship with cold, topical type plant.
posted by Freedomboy at 3:17 PM on February 16, 2007

I don't agree with not refrigerating these. I would say fruits should not be refrigerated until they have fully ripened, and they are not going to do that in the fridge. That includes avocados and tomatoes. Bananas do not do well in the fridge. Anything else, don't worry about it. Natural peanut butter should be kept in the fridge. I bet they are saying don't refrigerate the hydrogenated stuff. It'll be like wax (I'm guessing).
posted by Listener at 3:23 PM on February 16, 2007

Shoot. To answer your specific examples, I always keep the oatmeal (humungo cheap bag of it) in the fridge so it doesn't go rancid. Ramen -- it's not really food, but keep it wherever you like. Is your fridge kind of damp or dehydrating? (Some fridges are different. Mine is dry.) If yours is at all damp rather than drying, I wouldn't put the tea and popcorn in there unless very tightly sealed.
posted by Listener at 3:26 PM on February 16, 2007

If you're using Jif or Peter Pan or some other faked-up crap, it probably won't make a difference whether you refrigerate it or not. If you use real peanut butter, though, I'd recommend you refrigerate it, if only to maintain the emulsion. Don't ever put tomatoes in there, though.

Also, I don't know whether you have a freezer compartment, but most bread freezes well.
posted by trip and a half at 3:29 PM on February 16, 2007

Basil. Cold will ruin it. One tip I discovered the other week (and have been waiting to share) is to loosely wrap the basil in a damp paper towel, put it in a plastic bag and store out of the fridge. It works!

Soy sauce and fish sauce don't need to be in the fridge, since they're so salty nothing can live in them. While this site says to refrigerate fish sauce, I've never done this and I haven't been poisoned. Not to mention that one of the steps in manufacturing the stuff involves intentionally leaving it out in the sun for months.
posted by teem at 3:48 PM on February 16, 2007

Good old generic in-a-plastic-bag wheat bread is fine to refrigerate, or even to freeze... potato bread and pita bread, too!

Things I wouldn't put in the fridge... fruits and vegetables that aren't refrigerated or under a sprayer at the store....and I guess that's really it. I would put some things in plastic bags (over the original packaging) before you put them in the fridge/freezer--anything you expect to be in there for a long time, especially dry goods like flour and sugar.
posted by anaelith at 3:48 PM on February 16, 2007

You're fine refrigerating bananas. While the skin will turn brown, the banana itself will stay good longer.
posted by artifarce at 3:52 PM on February 16, 2007

You can put pretty much everything in the fridge. Even the fruits and other things people are mentioning will be mostly fine in the fridge - maybe not perfectly ripe, but they'll taste fine all the same. For instance, I keep my bread and my tomatoes in the fridge, even though the taste won't be optimal, and they taste fine.
posted by xammerboy at 3:57 PM on February 16, 2007

Seriously, if you have good tomatoes, please please don't put them in the fridge. But you won't, this time of year, so whatever.
posted by redfoxtail at 4:02 PM on February 16, 2007

Nutella/other chocolate spreads/most chocolate that's not on a cake gets weird if you refrigerate.
posted by mikeyk at 4:11 PM on February 16, 2007

the enzymes in avocados actually shut down if they get chilled, and they'll stop ripening, but once you have ripened them, putting them in the fridge will stop them from over ripening.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:16 PM on February 16, 2007

Looking at that link above, and wondering about the oft-repeated advice about keeping potatoes and onions in a "cool, dry place": Where do you find such a place, if not in the refrigerator? Those of us who do not have basements basically have homes in the 68-72 degree range.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:34 PM on February 16, 2007

robert - are you saying you don't have a root cellar? FYI the fridge may be a cool and dark place but it isn't dry! Given the absence of a root cellar or basement you can try keeping your potatoes and onions (separated of course) in the bottom of a dark cupboard or bottom drawer. You may even find tin perforated bins just for this purpose in older homes.
posted by rosebengal at 4:45 PM on February 16, 2007

a root cellar? Hahhahaa. Those of us who live in apartments probably don't have, ah, root cellars!
posted by Justinian at 5:10 PM on February 16, 2007

Butter. You can freeze it when you aren't using it, but leave it at room temperature when you are.

Tomatoes, as mentioned above.

Most hot sauces.

Eggs, if you get them fresh.

Oh, and DO refrigerate real bread, if you can find it. The kind that is twice as heavy as regular bread, does not have the words 'bleached' or 'corn syrup' in the list of ingredients.
posted by bh at 5:17 PM on February 16, 2007

Rice. It will dry out.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:28 PM on February 16, 2007

Good old generic in-a-plastic-bag wheat bread is fine to refrigerate, or even to freeze

Those are two different things. Freezing bread is fine, it keeps it fresh longer. Refrigeration just makes it taste stale.
posted by languagehat at 5:32 PM on February 16, 2007

posted by zadcat at 5:38 PM on February 16, 2007

posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:42 PM on February 16, 2007

In an apartment, a bottom drawer will work well for storing potatoes. I'm lucky enough to have an old-fashioned "pie cupboard" with slotted vents to the outdoors, which works perfectly for storing root vegetables, but my equally foodie friend doesn't have that option, and keeps her potatoes in a bottom drawer with about a half-inch of sand on the bottom. The refrigerator is far too humid for storing potatoes, or bread, for that matter. Freeze bread if you need to, but don't keep it in the refrigerator!
posted by trip and a half at 7:43 PM on February 16, 2007

I love how this dude is living in the dorm and people are telling him what to do with his basil, garlic, avocados and root vegetables. Dude, nothing you eat will come to any harm in the fridge except bread and pastries, which acquire an unpleasant texture. Your ramen noodles, soup cups, single serving mac and cheese and microwave popcorn will be fine.
posted by nanojath at 8:15 PM on February 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

Ditto, nanojath! People keep commenting about how all this stuff can be refrigerated. Yes, just about anything can be put in the fridge, that's not what he wants to know! He wants to save space in the fridge.

Here are some things that many people refrigerate, but others store on the counter or in the pantry:

Soy sauce

Of course, all of those things will last much longer in the fridge.
posted by peep at 9:00 PM on February 16, 2007

I crap, I read this question around the wrong way. Just listen to nanojath.

That said, if you do have any of the other fresh items that people are advising about (things like basil and avocado etc aren't so ridiculous in a dorm, I occasionally had them around for tasty sandwiches when I could afford them), keep them out of the fridge or it's not really worth shelling out for them.
posted by teem at 9:13 PM on February 16, 2007

Don't put olive oil in the fridge. Unless you like solid olive oil.
posted by geekhorde at 10:08 PM on February 16, 2007

You can put most fruit and vegetables in the fridge (fruit is often in coldstore for like a year before you buy it anyway), but it will stop ripening once you do so. For example, the plums I bought the other day are a little tart, so they're on the bench now but will go into the fridge in the next day or two if I haven't eaten them. Root vegies aren't so good in there though (potatoes and onions, carrots are fine in the fridge) and do better in a cupboard or somewhere dark. The fridge is great for timing your avocados, keep them in there while green until you want them, then take them out and riped for a few days then back in again to stay nice until eaten. We buy them in packs of three and ripen one at a time. I put my tomatoes in the fridge all the time and it makes no difference, but they're acid free which are mealy anyway.

I put all my condiments in the fridge even if they don't need to be. Soy sauce is fine on the bench, but just as fine in the fridge. Rice dries out in the fridge, possibly flour too, but things like popcorn and ramen can certainly go in there. I'm always getting in trouble for putting random 'cupboard' goods in the fridge cos no one can find them but it makes no difference to the food. Cold breakfast cereal is actually kind of nice. Seconding no oil in the fridge, it separates out and solidifies. Oily products (good peanut butter) probably do likewise.

Personally I'd just try putting things in there and see how it goes. If you can't taste a difference then keep doing it, otherwise take it out and try something else.

Yes, just about anything can be put in the fridge, that's not what he wants to know!

Yes it is. The question says he often has extra space in the fridge and what can he put in there. "Is it ok to put foods not usually refrigerated in there to free up some space elsewhere? "
posted by shelleycat at 10:46 PM on February 16, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the answers, guys! Even if I'm not currently using any basil, garlic, or avocados in my cooking these days, I'll know what to do when I am!
Seriously though, thanks.
posted by andythebean at 1:21 AM on February 17, 2007

Only refrigerate bread if you plan on heating it before serving. This goes for freezing too, but less so (you're more likely to be heating it, and the action which makes bread go stale faster at low temperature is halted once you get to really cold temperatures).

Check out this question: How to keep bread fresh?
posted by Chuckles at 4:43 AM on February 17, 2007

One thing that people usually don't refridgerate but should is brown rice.
posted by neuron at 10:58 AM on February 17, 2007

posted by melorama at 11:20 AM on February 17, 2007

Salted butter. Unsalted butter must be refrigerated.
posted by kellygreen at 4:13 PM on February 17, 2007

I never buy bread with preservatives, but I used to live alone, so I never went through a loaf of bread that fast. I'd take 1/2 a loaf stick it in the freezer, and put the other 1/2 in the fridge. If I didn't, I'd be forced to toss it out a couple days later (especially in the humid summer, since my apartment had no real air-conditioning).

Never refrigerate potatoes, they'll turn color and the taste will be altered.
posted by deinemutti at 9:09 AM on February 18, 2007

I don't put peanut butter in the fridge because its too difficult to spread when its cold.
posted by kaizen at 3:19 PM on February 18, 2007

I would strongly advise you to keep your tomatoes in the fridge right now. It has nothing to do with mealiness but with how old they are.

Unless you're in the Southern Hemisphere or the SW United States, your tomatoes will have spent the better part of a week (or longer) on a truck or in the store. They'll be old by the time you bring them home, and will likely start to go moldy or rotten within 48 hours. Keep them in the fridge and they'll last a week.

You can keep tomatoes on the counter in summer because they're probably local and much fresher, and aren't likely to go bad right away.
posted by watsondog at 11:38 PM on February 18, 2007

M&Ms. Take them out of a cold refrigerator or freezer into room temperature, and humdity will condense on them. The coloring on the candy shell is water-soluble, and it gets all over your hands. Presumably other similar candies too.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:28 AM on February 19, 2007

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