8 SURPRISING Foods that Should Be Refrigerated

… And 6 Surprising Foods That SHOULDN’T Be

Salad dressing, meats, and dairy foods like milk are a given … you know they go right in the fridge when you get home from the grocery store. But what about those other sundry items like peanut butter, cooking oils, produce and bread?

If you automatically stash everything in the fridge just to be “safe,” you might be surprised to learn that certain foods actually do better when left at room temperature.

On the flipside, there may be food items in your pantry that are quietly growing bacteria and mold because they’re actually supposed to be in your fridge.

Which are which? Below we’ve compiled a brief primer to help you remember the right places to store your food.

8 Foods That Should be Refrigerated

foods that should be refrigerated8. Butter: Do you leave your butter in the pantry? While salted butter is unlikely to spoil quickly, as the salt acts as a natural preservative, unsalted butter will spoil after about a week. To be safe, you can simply refrigerate all of your butter and take it out 30 minutes before use to let it soften.

7. Nuts and Nut Oils: Sesame, hazelnut and other nut oils must be refrigerated because they easily turn rancid when left out at room temperature. Even nuts you plan to snack on, such as walnuts or almonds, are better off stored in your fridge to keep them fresh.

6. Cooking Oil: Unless you plan to use up your cooking oils quickly, it’s best to keep the in the fridge to keep them from going rancid.

foods that should be refrigerated5. Very Ripe Bananas: While their peels will turn black, the inside fruit will keep for a few days longer if you store them in the fridge (only do this once the banana is already very ripe).

4. Whole-Wheat Flour: If you store this in the fridge, it will last many months longer than it will left out at room temp, as you’ll keep the wheat germ from going rancid (be sure to place it in an airtight container so it doesn’t pick up odors from other foods).

3. Maple Syrup: If you leave this out in your pantry, mold is likely to form.

2. Baked Goods with Cream or Custard Fillings: Those custard-filled doughnuts you tend to leave out on the counter for a day or two? Those should be refrigerated promptly, lest the cream filling get overgrown with bacteria, turn rancid and spoil. This goes for related cakes, cookies, pies, breads and coffee cakes, too.

1. Natural Peanut Butter: The oils in natural peanut butter can easily spoil at room temperature. Plus, because there are no preservatives added, natural peanut butter is prone to mold growth if it’s not kept in the fridge.


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6 Foods You Should NOT Refrigerate

When you get home from the grocery store, do you automatically stash everything in the fridge? You might be surprised to learn that some foods are actually better off left out on the counter or put in your pantry … anywhere but the refrigerator!

foods that should be refrigerated6. Coffee: Storing coffee in the fridge or freezer will cause condensation to form, which will negatively impact your coffee’s flavor, whether whole bean or ground. Store coffee in your pantry in an airtight container.

5. Bread: Bread put in the fridge may keep from getting moldy as fast, but it will also dry out and the starches will change structure, leading to a tougher, sometimes rubbery texture. Store bread at room temperature or freeze it for later use.

4. Onions: Onions become soft and mushy when refrigerated, and the humidity can even make them moldy. Keep them in their original mesh bag on the counter instead. (Once they are cut, onions can be refrigerated, however.)

3. Honey: Cold temperatures will cause honey to thicken and crystalize, so leave honey at room temperature so it’s easy to spread and pour (if you do have hardened honey on your hands, warming the open jar in a pan of hot water will fix the problem).

2. Potatoes: The cold temperatures in your fridge will cause the starch in your potatoes to turn to sugar, which means your potatoes will take on a sweet flavor, plus darken and be gritty, when cooked. Instead, store them in a cool, dark spot, such as a pantry or cabinet, in a paper bag.

foods that should be refrigerated1. Tomatoes: Refrigerating tomatoes damages the cell wall membranes, leading to a soft, mealy and very unappetizing texture. Store tomatoes at room temperature instead.

Filed Under: General Health
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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13 thoughts on “8 SURPRISING Foods that Should Be Refrigerated”

  1. jwk says:

    Cut onions should never be stored. They absorb germs and bacteria from the air around them and become toxic very quickly – so I have heard and seen – very good for absorbing germs in a sick room though!

  2. Rickie says:

    Thanks for this information. I did not know how dangerous cut onions could be. I always thought if you sliced one in half, the other half could be wrapped in saran wrap and stored in the refrigerator for a week. Well, good thing I read your article!

  3. Michelle says:

    Had no idea about natural peanut butter needing to be refrigerated after opening. I agree with the bread thing; in the fridge it gets icky.

  4. Vickie says:

    I have used a cut onion to take away the flu. When I woke up in the morning , the onion was very dark & I felt lots better. I passed this info on to a friend & she had the same great result. I try telling others about these kinds of things to heal naturally & they think I’m a nut job. BUT, I’m not the one getting sick & going to the Dr….THEY are! A great tool! A NMD told me about using Sesame oil to swab the nostrils. It doesn’t allow bacteria to grow, a natural property of the oil. At the first little tingle in the nose, I use a Qtip with the oil to swab the inside of my nose. I don’t develop the cold. Very soothing, too. I drink for a sore throat, too. It really works! I’ve used this one for years.

    1. Kathleen Moser says:

      This is a wonderful idea, I’m so glad I read these comments! thank you!

  5. maria rose says:

    I guess I should take my honey out of the refrigerator and put my peanut butter and olive oil in ( I assume you are referring to open containers). I store my loose nuts in a sealed container but now I will put that container in the refrigerator.

  6. Paul says:

    My wife operates a beauty shop. Women may be dying from pneumonia, or other sickness, but will never miss their appointment. For years she has kept 2 or 3 cut onions in the shop, and never catches what ever these women have when they come in. It works very well, just slice open an onion place on a saucer and set near each chair, or operating position.

  7. Mark Coulter says:

    Best place to store honey is the dishwasher! Yep, keeps it warm and it never turns to sugar. Just be sure to find a container that is glass and has an aluminum lid or something else that is rust proof. I used a Sobe drink bottle.

  8. Elisabeth Bennett says:

    I always store cut onions in the ‘fridge and I’ve NEVER had bad results. I do put them in a plastic bag or wrap tightly. Have part of one in the fridge right now! Freezing cut onions is a great way to have them readily available for using, and doesn’t affect the flavor. Same for peppers.
    Did not know to store all oils in ‘fridge. Will start that tomorrow.

  9. Leigh says:


    You’re not a NUT JOB. When the swine flu scare was on the go, I had an onion in every room of the house and nobody in the house (2 adults and three children) got the flu. I told my friends about this and they did the same (no illnesses in these households either). Did not know about the sesame oil swab though, will give that a try for sure.

    Don’t agree with the tomato tip however. I find that after two or three days they become very soft if you don’t keep them in the fridge (they do make good soup like that) but they stay nice and firm in the fridge, perfect for salads. I’ve heard that the skin of tomatoes is indigestible (and can cause many intestinal problems) so it is important to skin them first.

    I have never any problems with cooking oils or peanut butter and have never stored them in the fridge but then again they don’t last that long.

    WHY does bread appear in BOTH lists? No. 2 of things to refrigerate and no. 5 of things NOT to refrigerate.

    1. Gina says:

      The difference between refrigerate no 2 and not refrigerate no 5 is the cream/custard that will grow bacteria and spoil very quickly if not refrigerated.

  10. John Hasse says:

    I thought cooking oil (in general,and with few exceptions) should go in the garbage.

  11. Patricia Tice says:

    I would think that the saturated oils (lard, coconut oil, etc) are sufficiently stable because of their chemical structure, and historically, pig fat has been kept for generations on the back of the stove for easy access during cooking. I keep nut oils like walnut, sesame seed and pecan oil in the fridge because they do seem to go rancid easily but I have yet to see grapeseed or olive oil go bad.

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