Americans love their refrigerators – maybe just a little too much. In fact, we refrigerate too much. And this excess refrigeration is causing our food to taste bad, our electricity bills to skyrocket, and our carbon emissions to be higher than necessary.
Nearly 25 percent of Americans own at least two refrigerators. Not only do we own more, but we also own bigger refrigerators than citizens of other countries. The average size of an American refrigerator is 22.5 cubic feet, and the average European refrigerator is just 9.7 cubic feet.
So why are our refrigerators so big? One reason is that we refrigerate too many types of foods that don’t need to be refrigerate. Below is a list of foods that don’t need to be refrigerated.
- Condiments such as fish sauce, soy sauce, and hot sauce have enough natural preservatives that they don’t need to be refrigerated. Ketchup and mustard can also stay in the pantry and out of the refrigerator for a month. They will stay good in the refrigerator for up to six months, but if you buy smaller bottles, then you will likely be able to consume them within a month.
- The starch in potatoes will turn to sugar quicker in the refrigerator, giving the potatoes an odd taste, so you should never refrigerate uncooked potatoes.
- Tomatoes get mushy quickly if left in the refrigerator.
- Onions will turn yellow and make other foods taste odd if left in the refrigerator.
- Berries rot faster in the refrigerator than on the countertop.
- Fruit, such as apples, peaches, nectarines, and pears, will last a week in the pantry.
- Vegetables, such as peppers, squash, and eggplants do not need to be refrigerated.
- Avocados and bananas will ripen faster in the refrigerator than on the counter.
- Refrigerating oils and honey will thicken them and make them cloudy.
- Storing bread in the refrigerator dries it out faster.
- Never put coffee beans or grounds in the refrigerator or freezer, because this will cause moisture to accumulate in the coffee and essentially begin the brewing process way too early, and you will get stale tasting coffee when you eventually brew it.
- The same principle for keeping coffee out applies to other beans and rice – don’t put them in the refrigerator or they will absorb the moisture that is abundant in any fridge.
When you remove these items for your refrigerator, you will notice you have a lot of extra space. If you have an extra refrigerator, you are likely spending an extra $200 per year. If you have less food in your main fridge, consider moving the contents of your second refrigerator into your main fridge and dumping that second refrigerator. You will be saving money and the environment by reducing your refrigeration needs. And your food will taste better!