If you’ve ever been tempted to stick a loaf of bread in the fridge when you spot it’s near its sell-by-date, you’re definitely not alone. No-one likes wasting food and helping it last longer in the fridge seems like a smart idea. Not all foods enjoy colder temperatures though and some foods can actually go off more quickly when kept in the fridge.
Nearly 2 million tons of food is wasted in the UK every year, so making sure it’s stored properly is a great way of helping the environment and helping to save money on your groceries.
Here are some tips on everyday foods that might be better off in the cupboard.
Can bread keep in the fridge?
Bread is heavy in starch, which doesn't do well in the cold. The lower temperatures can speed up ‘retrogradation’ which makes the bread taste stale and dry. You’re better off keeping the bread in a cool, dry place like a cupboard, bread bin or wrapped in its original plastic bag.
The same can be said for other starchy foods like potatoes, pastries and cakes. Cakes and pastries should be kept in a paper bag or an airtight tin, rather than the fridge. Keep your potatoes stored out of direct sunlight, ideally in a cloth bag.
Can you store fruit in the fridge?
The drawers in the bottom of your fridge look perfect for storing fruit and salad in, but not all fruit and veg fares well. Tropical fruits grow in hot climates and haven’t evolved to deal with the cold. Bananas, pineapples, avocados, melons and mangoes should be kept in a fruit bowl, or somewhere cool and dry.
Tomatoes are also better off at room temperature to avoid ruining the taste and the same goes for cucumbers, fresh herbs and root vegetables like onions, squash and garlic.
Are eggs supposed to be kept in the fridge?
There's some debate over whether eggs belong in the fridge or not. This is because in some countries, like the United States, eggs are washed before reaching supermarkets, which removes the protective membrane that can keep eggs fresh.
This doesn't happen in the UK, however, the British Egg Information Service (yes, it’s real) says that eggs should definitely be kept in the fridge. Eggs are usually kept out on the shelf in supermarkets as the air-conditioning keeps them at the right temperature anyway.
Even though a lot of fridges come with a designated egg rack in the door, you shouldn’t keep them there either! It’s warmer nearer to the door and every time you open the door the temperature of the eggs will fluctuate. Instead, keep them nice and safe at the back of a shelf.
Note: once eggs have been refrigerated, they must be kept refrigerated to prevent condensation from forming on the shell if they warm up.
Should you keep sauces in the cupboard?
The eternal debate — does ketchup belong in the fridge or cupboard? According to polls 54% of us prefer to keep ketchup the fridge, a debate that truly divides the nation. The acidity in ketchup means it can be stored safely in a cupboard, however, Heinz recommends storing it in the fridge to maintain the best product quality.
The same goes for similar sauces, but other spreads like honey should be kept at room temperature to avoid crystallisation. You can also keep peanut butter in the cupboard, unless you plan on keeping it around for several months, in which case pop it in the fridge to avoid it spoiling.
Do you put butter in the fridge?
There’s nothing more frustrating than when you’re making a sandwich or some toast and the butter is rock hard. You end up tearing the bread in half and ruining what could have been the sandwich of a lifetime. That’s why some people keep butter out on the counter, so it’s spreadable all day long.
According to the Metro, butter should definitely be kept in the fridge, otherwise it will go off within a few days.