Which vegetables should not be refrigerated?

QUESTION: Which vegetables should not be refrigerated? My refrigerator is always totally full, so I could save a lot of room if I knew which ones it’s ok to store on the counter or in the pantry. -Janice L.

ANSWER: There are a variety of vegetables which don’t require refrigeration. In most cases, the cold tends to remove the flavor of the crop or disrupts the texture. Here are the vegetables you could easily store somewhere else than in your refrigerator:

1. Pumpkins

Pumpkins don’t require refrigeration. When stored in a refrigerated location, they often become shriveled. Instead, store pumpkins in a dark, cool, dry location such as a root cellar or basement until you’re ready to use them.

2. Basil

When storing basil in the fridge, it’s recommended to wrap the herbs in a damp paper towel and place them within a sealed plastic bag. If you’d rather store basil out on your counter, ensure it’s sitting in a small jar of water to keep the herbs fresh.

3. Peppers

Peppers are another vegetable that can become shriveled when stored in the refrigerator. Instead, I prefer to store my peppers in a colander on the counter or in a tiered vegetable basket. This way, they remain at room temperature which protects their flavor and texture. Once peppers are cut, store them in the refrigerator.

4. Cucumbers

Cucumbers shouldn’t be refrigerated prior to cutting. When placed in the fridge, the cucumber will become shriveled and soft. Instead, leave this crop at room temperature and enjoy it within a few days of harvest. Some of the crispier varieties of cucumbers can last at room temperature for close to a week, so if longevity is a concern do your research to know which variety of cucumber to plant.

5. Eggplant

Have you ever considered using your unused vegetables as part of your home décor until you eat them? All it takes is a bowl that has adequate airflow, colorful vegetables, and a place to sit the container. If you’d like to do this, be sure to add eggplant to your design. This vegetable doesn’t require refrigeration and room temperature helps it to keep the right consistency and flavor.

6. Tomatoes

Some people store their tomatoes in their refrigerator, but you don’t need to. In fact, refrigeration can cause the tomato to lose flavor. However, if you have nowhere else to store this food, be sure to place it on your counter for two hours prior to use to allow the juices to flow again.

7. Garlic and Onions

Garlic and onions should be stored in a cool, dry location while the skins are still intact. Be sure to store these crops away from potatoes as the ethylene from potatoes causes garlic and onions to sprout. Once garlic and onions are cut, be sure to refrigerate them.

8. Winter Squash

Winter squash have hard exteriors. This allows the crop to go unrefrigerated for long periods of time. They do best when stored in a cool, dark location such as a root cellar or basement. Once cut, be sure to store the winter squash in the refrigerator and use quickly.

9. Potatoes

Potatoes are our last vegetable to discuss which don’t require refrigeration. You don’t need to refrigerate any type of potato or anything considered a starchy tuber. They only need a cool, dry, dark location which has adequate airflow to remain fresh. Also, be sure to store potatoes and other starchy tubers in a way that they remain loose. Storing these crops in too tight of a location without good airflow could lead to rot. You also should never store potatoes in a plastic bag as this only encourages moisture to collect which leads to rot as well.

These are nine vegetables which don’t require refrigeration. In some of these cases, you can get away with refrigerating the crop as long as you bring them to room temperature prior to use to ensure optimal flavor.

In other cases, refrigeration can severely compromise the texture and longevity of the crop. Hopefully, these tips will help you store your vegetables in a way you can enjoy them at their freshest.

More About Storing Vegetables


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