Summer is my favorite season, and not just because the sun is endlessly shining, I get to swim in the ocean, and the sun doesn’t go down until 8 p.m. With summer comes an abundance of delicious fruits and vegetables, which means lots of barbecues, picnics and fun summery salads.
If you’re like me and you’re into buying a ton of summer produce, whether it be from the farmers market or the grocery store or even your own garden, I’m sure you wonder where to store all this fresh food. Though it might sound intuitive to want to stick them all in the refrigerator, certain foods keep better when they’re left out on the counter.
I remember the first time I found out that tomatoes shouldn’t be refrigerated, and I couldn’t be more confused. Why wouldn’t you want to preserve something in the cool shelter of the refrigerator? Turns out, some foods end up losing their quality and flavor when they’re put in the fridge.
To make sure your fresh fruits ripen perfectly and last as long as possible, you should avoid refrigerating the following five summer fruits.
Leaving your melons out not only preserves their flavor, but it helps retain their nutrients as well. “Keeping melons such as cantaloupes at room temperature will help keep their antioxidant levels intact,” says chef and nutritionist Sophie Jaffe.
Refrigerating tomatoes can alter their taste, taking away from their juicy flavor and making them dry and mealy. Keeping your tomatoes in a cool, dry place will allow them to continue to ripen while still preserving them, so there’s no need to stick them somewhere as cold as the fridge.
Once peaches have been picked, they should be stored at room temperature to keep their natural texture and flavor. Left in the fridge, peaches may not fully ripen and can become mealy and soft. “You can then store them in the fridge when they’ve hit peak ripeness, but try to eat them as soon as possible so they maintain their yummy flavor,” Jaffe says.
Fruits such as lemons, oranges, grapefruits and limes don’t have to be stored in the fridge, and keeping them in too-cool temperatures can reduce their juiciness. Citrus fruits don’t continue to ripen after they’re picked, so you’re safe to leave them out if you plan to eat them within a reasonable amount of time.
“While you may have been taught to keep your cucumbers in the fridge, they’re actually more prone to pitting and decay when kept in temperatures below 50 degrees,” Jaffe says. In addition to leaving them out of the cold, try to keep your cucumbers away from fruits that create ethylene gas such as tomatoes or melons, which can cause cucumbers to become soft or spotty.