To refrigerate or not to refrigerate? That is the question for so many foods, like onions, soy sauce, eggs, tomatoes, butter, coffee and more. While onions, potatoes, vinegary condiments and coffee don’t need to be refrigerated (don’t refrigerate your coffee unless you want to deplete it of all its glory), there are a few foods you should always consider refrigerating. Here are 7 that might surprise you:
NATURAL NUT BUTTERS
I know, it is so much harder to stir nut butters when they’ve been in the fridge. But, wouldn’t you rather put in a little elbow grease than eat nut butter that has oxidized and gone rancid? Most of us (my own lack of self-discipline excluded) take weeks to make our way through a delicious jar of nut butter. So, keep it fresh and tasty by keeping it cool. Whether it is peanuts, almonds, cashews or something a little more exotic, it is a good idea to store your natural nut butters in the fridge once you make them or bring them home.
If you buy eggs at the grocery store in the US, you should always, always, always refrigerate your eggs. However, if you go outside the US, you may notice that eggs are often sold at room temperature. Why is this? Well, in the US, eggs undergo a washing process to remove potential salmonella contamination. Unfortunately, this also washes off the cuticle, which protects any bacteria on the outside of the egg from getting inside. This is why overseas eggs and eggs fresh from your local farm actually don’t have to be refrigerated. But, any pasteurized eggs from a store absolutely should be refrigerated. If you aren’t collecting the eggs from the hens yourself, it is always better to ere on the safe side and pop your local dozen in the fridge, just to be sure.
For the majority of us, butter needs to be refrigerated. It is a dairy product. End of story. Yet, for those diehards who prefer their butter to be spreadable, butter crocks are a viable option. If you store your butter in a crock, it can only stay good for a couple of weeks.
NUTS AND SEEDS
I know that the vast majority of food markets in the US sell nuts and seeds out of unrefrigerated bulk bins, but you really should consider refrigerating them. Due to their high fat content, nuts and seeds can go rancid fairly quickly at room temperature. If you aren’t eating them within the week, it is a smart choice to refrigerate or freeze all cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and walnuts. And if you can, try to purchase nuts that are stored in refrigeration as well.
While olive oil, coconut oil and ghee do not require refrigeration (especially if you use them in a timely manner), other, more delicate oils do. Flax, walnut, almond and sesame oils (essentially all nut and seed oils) go rancid at room temperature within a few months. Refrigerated, they can keep for up to a few years.
Oh, avocado, the most fickle of fruit. One moment, they are as hard as rocks. The next, they have become super mushy and rotten on the inside. Ever wonder how to choose the perfect avocado? Start by looking for avocados with smooth skin and an intact stem. Then, they should be slightly soft, but not squishy. I always opt on the firmer side of soft. Finally, if you pull up the stem, the flesh should look green without any brown streaks. If you use these guidelines, your avocados should be just about ready to eat, if not a mere day away from ripeness. Store these bad boys in the fridge immediately so as to retard the ripening process. No one likes throwing away a rotten $3 avocado.
Oranges, lemons and limes keep fresh up to 4 times longer if you refrigerate them. While it is not essential that you refrigerate these fruits, extending their life can help significantly in reducing waste. Generally, most fruits benefit from refrigeration to slow the ripening process. Also refrigerate fresh herbs and vegetables like corn on the cob and greens, with the exception of garlic, onions, potatoes and tomatoes.
Knowing how to properly store your foods can greatly reduce your food waste and save you money. Respect your food, and you will be rewarded with delicious nutrition and happiness.