Harshita Murarka (https://www.thequint.com/)
What on earth would I do without my beloved fridge? It’s the source of joy and respite when excruciating hunger pangs strike. A fridge filled with food – lots and lots of food, is the only boon of my millennial existence. It is only natural to say that nothing breaks my heart as terribly as the sight of an empty fridge – the betrayal of the worst kind.
My love affair with my fridge was going great when I woke up to a rude shock – cold is not always good, and storing all sorts of food in the fridge might not be the healthiest option. My life has been a lie, literally.
The fridge is guilty of altering the flavour and texture of certain foods, starving foods of its nutrient content.
So, run and remove all these foods, if they have been sitting on the fridge for long. And people, I share the bewilderment wholeheartedly.
If you’ve been refrigerating bread, you need to stop at once, unless of course, dry, lifeless bread is your goto comfort food. Huda Shaikh, Nutritionist and Clinical Dietitian at NutriBond says
Bread, when kept in the fridge, not only dries faster, but also stales faster. I suggest storing it in room-temperature.
“Don’t get a lot of bread together. You’ll be forced to store it in the fridge – making it hard and chewy”, she adds.
Keep your coffee – ground or bean – at arm’s length from the refrigerator. Why, you may ask? Well, coffee tends to absorb any smell it is exposed to. And the fridge – being the foodie haven with a host of leftovers, curd, fruits – will turn your coffee into something else, reeking the coffee of its ambrosial aroma.
Coffee is best stored in a cool, dry place in airtight containers, because that’s how its flavour will remain intact. Though, large quantities of coffee could be deep-freezed to retain freshness.
Resist the temptation of putting away tomatoes in the refrigerator. The fridge not only puts an end to the ripening process of tomatoes, but also spoils the texture of the fruit.
“Tomatoes, when stored in the fridge, are susceptible to genetic changes which alter their flavour permanently, reeking them off their sweetness. Tomatoes, therefore, must be stored at room temperature and consumed within a week of purchase,” Dt Ankita Gupta Sehgal, Founder of Nutrition Matters, Delhi
Your fruit bowl, not the fridge, is the ideal way to store apples. Put them on the kitchen cabinet or the pantry for at least the first two weeks, and then maybe you could put them in the fridge. But wait, why would you keep them for so long anyway? Besides, keeping apples in the fridge dries them out pretty quickly.
For bananas, refrigeration could do more harm than good. So, next time you find the bananas going bad, don’t push them in the fridge.
“As they are grown in hot temperatures, putting bananas in the fridge will inhibit the enzymes that help them ripen and encourage other enzymes that actually cause cell damage, blackening the skin,” Dt Ankita Gupta Sehgal, Founder of Nutrition Matters, Delhi.
While whole fruits don’t need refrigeration, cut fruits such as melons and papaya must be refrigerated, adds Dt Sehgal.
Agrees, Dr Pooja Sharma, Nutritionist & Lifestyle Expert, Powai, Mumbai.
“Apples, tomatoes and leafy vegetables need no refrigeration as these food products are devoid of oil. Coffee, when exposed to the moisture in the refrigerator, gets spoiled and is best stored outside.”
If you have been storing honey in the refrigerator, you have been doing it wrong all this while. Honey, if refrigerated, gets crystallised, rendering it unfit and dough-like for your daily dose of lukewarm water. The best way to store honey is to put it in an airtight container kept at a cool, dry place.
Avocadoes should be stored outside the fridge to make the most of its many health benefits.
"Unripe avocados should not be placed in the fridge as refrigeration deters the ripening process. Besides, the texture and flavour of the fruit is best maintained at room temperature," Dt Huda Shaikh, Nutritionist and Clinical Dietitian at NutriBond.
She, however, says that ripe avocados may be stored in the refrigerator.
8. Pickles and Chutney(s)
Pickles and chutneys are bae as they can literally light up even the blandest of meals. We are all guilty of making loads of it and storing it in the refrigerator to devour repeatedly with meals. But is that right? According to Dt Huda Shaikh, “Pickles are high on preservatives such as salt and vinegar, which inadvertently keep it fresh even outside the fridge.”
So what is the ideal way of storing all the delicious and mouth-watering pickles?
“Pickles should be stored in an open space to allow for air-circulation around it. Also, make sure to put enough oil in the pickle to prevent it from going bad,” Dt Huda Shaikh, Nutritionist and Clinical Dietitian at NutriBond.
“Chutneys, on the other hand, remain fresh for not more than two days.” Dt Shaikh suggests storing chutneys in airtight jars and advises against leaving them uncovered. However, “chutneys with coconut should be refrigerated,” she adds.
Trust basil to add that distinct flavour to your pasta! But never commit the folly of keeping it and other herbs in the refrigerator. Not only do the herbs wilt when kept in the fridge, but also lose their distinct texture by absorbing the surrounding smells. Herbs, at best, can be stored by keeping them in a bowl of fresh water. Alternately, if you wish to store them for a longer time, blanch them and deep-freeze.
“It is a myth that storing herbs in the fridge makes them last longer. Refrigeration only perpetuates the wilting of herbs, rendering them stale in the process,” Dt Huda Shaikh, Nutritionist and Clinical Dietitian at NutriBond.
10. Jam and Marmalade
Have you ever tried to find out if you really need to shelve that jam bottle in the fridge? There seems to be quite some confusion on this one. But as per Dt Ankita Gupta Sehgal,
Normally jam and marmalade don’t need chilling if consumed within three to six months, keeping in mind the weather conditions of India. Jams and marmalade, if homemade and devoid of preservatives are refrigerated to slow microbial growth. I suggest following the storage instructions on each product for best results.
Time to revamp the fridge, folks!