Refrigeration significantly inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria on many types of prepared and cooked foods. It is generally recommended that foods be refrigerated at temperatures between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit (1°C to 3°C). Although refrigeration can reduce spoilage of many types of foods, it is not recommended for all edible items in the kitchen. Lower temperatures can alter the texture and flavor of many foods and sometimes their nutritional value. The following information describes foods that should not be refrigerated and why they are best left at room temperature.
Coffee needs a cool, dry place to stay as fresh as possible. Refrigerator temperatures are usually too low. Coffee also needs to stay in an airtight container to maintain its high quality. The National Coffee Association states that coffee beans should be stored at room temperature and protected from heat, moisture and light.
Cold temperatures tend to have a drying effect on many products. Bread is a food that dries and hardens in the cold. Bread can also have a soft texture if kept in a cold environment for a very long time.
Tomatoes lose much of their rich, tangy flavor when stored in the refrigerator. The cold also changes the texture of tomatoes and disrupts some of their membranes. They eventually become mealy, mushy and tasteless. Tomatoes will ripen at the same rate and retain their delicious flavour if kept on the counter at room temperature.
Basil tends to absorb other flavors that may be present in the refrigerator. Not only can refrigeration destroy the aromatic power of basil, but the leaves can begin to wilt. The kitchen experts at Epicurious.com recommend treating basil like cut flowers. Simply store basil in a jar of water on the kitchen counter to keep it fresh.
Eggplants are temperature sensitive vegetables and prolonged refrigeration can be detrimental to them. Temperatures below 50 degrees Celsius (10 degrees Fahrenheit) can damage the texture and flavour of eggplant. Eggplants should be stored at room temperature and separately from other fruits and vegetables.
Avocados almost always need to ripen after purchase. Storing them in the refrigerator slows this process. Avocados will remain tasty and ripen naturally if stored in a dry place on the counter.
Onions often soften and even turn moldy if stored in the refrigerator. They last longer when stored on the counter. Onions need some air circulation and can be stored in the mesh bag they are often purchased in.
Garlic is a food that should definitely not be kept cold. Garlic can harden in the refrigerator and begin to develop mold. It can even start to sprout. Garlic is another food that benefits from air circulation. It will keep for more than a month in the air, on the counter, in a basket.