Stop playing Tetris in your refrigerator. If space is looking tight, don’t throw it out—take it out. Contrary to popular practice, there are foods you don’t have to refrigerate to keep them from going bad. Certain goods have natural ingredients or preservatives that slow down the time-to-trash clock. Here is a list of foods that are safe for room temperature, even if it is hard to believe.
When it comes to produce, the common urge is to toss it in the fridge until needed. But when tomatoes are in the fridge, they actually lose their flavor in a mushy mess. According to the Huffington Post, tomatoes are so delicate that the cold damages the membranes inside fruit walls and ruins their texture. Store them outside of plastic bags and side- by-side to avoid bruising. Placing them on the counter near a sunny window will help keep them ripe and rich, as tomatoes continue to develop even after being picked.
Tomato, tomahto, potato, potahto. Potatoes suffer the same flavor-adverse fate as tomatoes when kept in the fridge. The starches are turned into sugars, causing potatoes to darken prematurely and their taste to become distastefully sweet. For storage, paper bags are a better bet than plastic bags, which speed up decay due to trapped moisture. Follow these rules and most kinds can last up to three weeks in the pantry.
Did I hear a disgusted gasp? Stop your choking and put away that horrified face. Mayonnaise is often vinegar-based and does not need to be refrigerated like a dairy product would. The eggs used in mayonnaise are pasteurized to remove harmful bacteria, and the mayo itself contains preservatives and acids that extend its shelf life. As long as it is not contaminated with dirty silverware that is speckled with bits of other food, your mayo is good-to-go. Opt for the squeeze bottles! They’re much easier to keep clean and more space-efficient than jars.
Onions lose their crisp, crunchy bite and become soft when refrigerated. Wrap them in a loose bag that lets in air. They can survive in the pantry, but must be kept away from potatoes, which release onion- rot-inducing moisture and gases. However, once cut, onions should be covered and kept in the fridge.
Just like onions, garlic can be stored in the pantry if it is aired out. Garlic can keep cozy for two months. Maybe you can throw them around the house during Halloween to ward off the vampires?
Let me guess—was this suggestion too soon after mentioning the mayo? No need to cringe. The ideal temperature for storing eggs is between 12 to 20 degrees celsius, or about room temperature. Eggs that are refrigerated in the store can last at least 10 days on the counter, but they need to be turned over every day to prevent the yolk from settling. Eggs that weren’t refrigerated in stores last even longer. No worries! If salmonella is still a huge fear, you can keep them in the fridge, but if you’re desperate for space, keep in mind that this hatched-up idea won’t kill you.
7. Salad Dressing
Balsamic will be your best friend. Actually, any oil-based dressing can be your new favorite pantry pal. No need for them to take up fridge shelf space.
Ketchup at restaurants doesn’t need to be refrigerated and neither does ketchup at home. Due to their high acid contents, most condiments can last for months without being cold. But if you’re like me and enjoy your ketchup cold, go for it!
9. Peanut Butter
I’m not sure why people refrigerate peanut butter. As it is high in sugar content and preservatives, it is not a good growing place for mold or bacteria. Also, doesn’t keeping it cold make it impossible to spread, while at the same time ripping your bread? Speaking of bread, why do people refrigerate that, too?
10. Jam and Jelly
You can’t mention peanut butter without mentioning jelly. In this context, as well! Even after opening,
it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, although the temptation is huge. The sugar content in jelly and jam is high enough where if bacteria were to get in, they would not be able to survive because they lose the water in their cells.
Pepperoni, being an air- cured, dry meat, can live to tell the tale outside of the refrigerator. The salt it is made with pulls out moisture and certain bacteria stop it from rotting. Once it is open and cut, refrigerate if you want to play it safe, but it can last longer than you think.