Potatoes are best stored in a cool, dark basement between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Refrigerators are kept at 40 degrees or lower, and those colder temperatures cause the potato’s starches to convert to sugar, ruining their flavor.
Onions also belong in a cool, dry, well-ventilated spot. The fridge is too humid for onions, which can cause them to sprout. Plus, like potatoes, the cold will convert an onion’s starch to sugar.
If you’re growing tomatoes, you may have noticed that even fresh-picked tomatoes taste bland and watery after a night in the fridge. That’s because refrigeration damages the membranes inside the fruit’s walls, causing them to become mealy and blah.
It’s better to keep them out on the counter where they continue to ripen after picking. If you have more ripe tomatoes than you can eat before they go mushy, check out 3 Super Simple Ways To Preserve Garden Tomatoes.
According to the National Coffee Association (NCA), coffee is hydroscopic, meaning it readily absorbs moisture in addition to other odors and tastes. So coffee in the fridge is never going to taste as fresh as the stuff in the pantry.
The NCA recommends storing your coffee in a cool, dark spot.
According to the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS), you should never stick an open tin can in the fridge. Doing so could cause metals from the can to leach into the food.
Instead, transfer the leftover contents to a glass storage container. It will lock in flavors and keep food fresher.
Related: Pack Your Lunch In Plastic-Free Containers
According to a study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, watermelons kept at room temperature before slicing have significantly more antioxidants than melons stored in the fridge. (Temperature can affect the process by which caroteniod compounds, a type of antioxidant in watermelon, are formed.)
Researchers say the fruits last longer out of the fridge than inside: The average shelf life for a watermelon stored at 55 degrees is 2 to 3 weeks, but it will start to go bad in less than a week in a 40-degree refrigerator.
Bananas are a tropical fruit, so they especially like warm temperatures. Cold temps interrupt their ripening process for good, says the One Banana company, so green bananas in the fridge means green bananas forever.
It’s also true that banana peels will turn completely black in the refrigerator (the cold breaks down the peel’s cell walls, causing compounds to oxidize and produce melanin), but the fruit itself will be just fine.
Banana companies actually recommend letting bananas stay out on the counter until they reach the ripeness you prefer and then transferring them to the fridge to keep them at their peak for a few more days.
Related: 5 Easy Ways To Cook With Banana Peels
Steaming Hot Leftovers
Let your leftovers cool to room temperature before packing them away, the NHS advises. Hot food can raise the temperature inside your refrigerator, encouraging bacteria growth.
Plus, added heat means your fridge has to work harder to cool down, driving up energy usage.
Fresh basil turns black and gross after a night in the fridge. It’s simply too cold in there for basil’s tender leaves.
Plus, basil is extra sensitive to ethylene. This is a gas that fruits give off as they ripen, but it also causes leafy greens to wilt. So keeping basil locked up in a drawer with other produce makes things worse.
Instead, keep basil in a jar of water out on the counter (like you would keep cut flowers). You can also cover it loosely with a plastic bag to trap in humidity.