If your fridge is like mine, it seems it’s always jam-packed with fresh groceries to be cooked, left-overs to be eaten and condiments for whenever.

It turns out that not everything we keep in the fridge needs to be there. By clearing out some of clutter, you’ll give yourself more fridge space and, in many cases, actually improve food flavors.

Here’s the checklist:

Tomatoes: Keeping tomatoes in the fridge turns them mushy and robs them of their flavor.

Potatoes: Like many of us, potatoes don’t like the cold. It turns their starch into sugar and ruins their flavor 

Onions lose their flavor in the refrigerator. Pick the pantry instead.

Ketchup: Most of us keep ketchup in the fridge, but there’s no reason for it. If you’re looking to free up fridge space, kick this condiment to the cupboard. 

Pickles don’t need to be chilled because they’re full of sodium and brine.

Soy sauce: This Asian condiment is rich in sodium. Save your fridge space and opt for the pantry.

Salad dressings: Vinegar-based dressings, like Italian, don’t need refrigeration. They’re best stored at room temp; they’ll taste better and mix better. 

Hot sauce: Cold weakens the flavor punch in hot sauces, and also changes their texture, which makes them difficult to pour. Your pantry or cupboard is your best storage bet.

Bread and baked goods: Storing bread and baked goods in your fridge actually causes them to dry out and become stale. Store on the counter at room temperature instead.

Peanut butter and jam: Jam has enough sugar and preservatives that it doesn’t need refrigeration. Peanut butter will keep for months in your pantry, even after opening. If it’s organic, refrigerate.

Berries and pit fruits: Peaches, plums and the like prefer warmth, air and sunshine. Put them in natural light to ripen and to keep them juicy and flavorful. Berries mold faster in the fridge.

Whole melons: Keep your watermelons and muskmelons on the counter. Refrigerating whole melons will zap their antioxidants, which are their biggest natural health benefit.

Apples: Fridge is a no-no for this fall fruit. They’ll stay crisper on the counter.

Garlic: Putting garlic in your fridge will not only stink up your refrigerator, it will cause the garlic to lose its flavor.

Basil: Many people store basil in the fridge, thinking it will preserve flavor. Actually, it’s just the opposite – the cold snuffs out the flavor. To keep it fresh, store in water and change the water every three days.

Coffee absorbs moisture when refrigerated, which causes a loss of flavor. Store in a tightly sealed container in the pantry instead.

Honey: Cold temps cause honey to crystallize and become hard. To preserve the busy bees’ work, keep it on a cupboard shelf.

Oils: With the exception of nut oils, storing oils in the fridge will cause them to harden and lose their smooth texture.

Have some favorite apps, household hints or savings secrets of your own you’d like to share? Or searching for a solution? We’d love to hear from you. Email Marie Havenga at mhavenga@grandhaventribune.com. Include your name, address and phone number. You may also snail-mail ideas to: Trib Tips, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417; or call 616-847-2628.

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