feature
Do Not Refrigerate
feature >
Do Not Refrigerate

Singapore’s warm and humid climate poses a challenge when it comes to storing food - a refrigerator is not necessarily the answer.

Many of us assume, or have been taught, that it is best to store all our perishables in the refrigerator the moment we come home from grocery shopping. After all, it seems logical that the cool environment of the refrigerator should keep foods fresher for a longer time.

While it is necessary to keep many foods, such as meat and fish, in cold storage, the same chilly air that keeps these foods fresh can have a negative effect on other foods, as counterintuitive as that sounds! Refrigerating these foods can change their flavour, reduce their nutritional value, or even accelerate the spoiling process.

Here is a list of some food items that should be kept out of the refrigerator:

Banana

Bananas should be stored at room temperature when they are unripe because cold delays the ripening process. The moisture and darkness of the fridge also contribute to rotting. Bananas retain nutrients better outside the fridge. Once ripe, store them in the refrigerator, which gives you a few days to consume them. The skin may darken but the banana will be all right for consumption.

Tips for using up excess bananas Overripe bananas are perfect for making delicious banana bread. You can also freeze bananas to eat like a frozen treat or use them to make smoothies.

Bread

Fresh bread is best eaten at room temperature, so it is not advisable to store it in the refrigerator. Bread also tends to dry out and go stale more quickly in the refrigerator. To get the most out of your bread before it turns mouldy, set aside the amount you intend to eat for the next three days and freeze the rest. Then, simply toast as needed.

Tips for storing excess bread Wrap bread tightly in plastic wrap or aluminium foil before storing in the freezer. When you are ready to eat it, allow the bread to thaw overnight in the refrigerator section. Then toast and enjoy!

Eggplant

Eggplants can be stored in a cool place either loose or in a breathable bag. Storing them in the refrigerator can lead to browning and loss of flavour. An eggplant has glossy skin in its prime. Once the skin starts looking dull, it toughens, and the seeds begin to mature. If you notice dark brown seeds in your eggplant, it is probably past its prime and should be discarded.

Tips for using up excess eggplants Eggplants do not freeze well; use leftovers for your favourite casserole dish and freeze that for another meal.

Garlic and Shallot

Unpeeled garlic should not be stored in the refrigerator; they may turn mouldy and go rubbery-soft. Store unpeeled garlic and shallot in a cool, dark and dry place in a well-ventilated container. If the garlic is already peeled, store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Tips for storing excess garlic and shallots Garlic and shallots are sold by the bag in supermarkets. Very often, they start sprouting before they are used at all. So set aside the amount you are likely to use in a week, then peel and store the rest in the refrigerator. You can also chop them up, freeze them in an ice cube tray and place in an airtight container in the freezer. They will not be crisp, but will retain their flavours.

Fresh Basil

You may be tempted to store fresh herbs such as basil in the refrigerator, especially if you purchased them from the supermarket, where they are often displayed in the chilled section. But it’s best to trim off the ends of the plant and place the whole bunch in a tall glass of water. You can cover loosely with a plastic bag and leave it on the counter.

Tips for using up excess basil You can make pesto with excess basil and freeze it in individual portions for adding to pastas, sandwiches, grilled meats and more.

Honey

Honey is a naturally preserved food and supposedly lasts forever. The sugar in the honey crystallises in cold temperatures, making the honey very difficult to spread.

Tips for restoring crystallised honey You can liquefy honey again by removing the lid and placing the container upright in a pan of warm water for about 20 minutes.

Melon

Whole melons should be stored in a cool, dark place away from sunlight until ripe. Once ripe or cut, store them in the refrigerator. If possible, do not remove the seeds from the remaining sections of unripe melon as they keep the flesh from drying out.

Tips for storing excess melons Melons freeze well and are a refreshing treat on a hot day. Cut away the rind and cube the flesh before storing in the freezer. Frozen melon can be used straight from the freezer and added to smoothies or other blended drinks.

Papaya

Papayas can be stored on the kitchen counter till ripe, after which you can move them to the fridge. Once cut, place them in an airtight container. However, if the fruit is bruised or damaged, store them in the refrigerator immediately.

Tips for using up excess papayas Similar to bananas, papayas can be eaten like a frozen treat or used to make smoothies.

Onion

Onions are best stored in a paper bag and in a cool, dark spot. When placed in the refrigerator, starch in an onion converts into sugar, causing it to turn soft or soggy very quickly. Do not store onions together with potatoes as the latter tends to draw moisture and gases, which can cause the onions to rot.

Tips for storing excess onions Refer to freezing tips for garlic and shallots.

Potato

Potatoes should not be refrigerated as the cold turns starch into sugar more rapidly. This can result in a sweet taste and discolouration when cooked. It is best to store them away from sunlight in a cool, dark, dry and well-ventilated place. Store them unwashed in a mesh bag or paper bag with holes.

Tips for using up excess potatoes Turn them into the ultimate comfort food: mashed potato, which can be frozen with enough fat, such as butter, cream or oil.

Tomato

Store tomatoes with the stem end up on the counter away from direct sunlight. Storing them on their side will cause bruising. Refrigeration can result in the loss of sweetness and texture. However, cut tomatoes should be refrigerated; let them come to room temperature before eating them.

Tips for storing excess tomatoes Tomatoes can be stored whole raw or cooked in airtight bags. They will be mushy when thawed and are thus ideal for stews and pizza sauces.

Spices

Spices should be purchased whole and kept in a cool, dry place in airtight containers. Grind them only just before using. Spices don’t usually spoil, but can lose their potency over time. Do not store in the fridge as temperature changes lead to condensation, which the spices absorb, thus reducing their strength.

Tips for adding spice to your cooking Shake the amount of spice you need into the palm of your hand, then throw that into the pot or pan. Shaking the spice bottle over your cooking allows moisture into the bottle.

Top