After an explosive Internet debate regarding the infuriating question, “Do eggs need to be refrigerated?” experts are now telling us we’ve been storing our eggs all wrong. The egg rack in your refrigerator may seem like a handy place to store your eggs, but researchers say you’re not doing yourself any favors if you want to keep your eggs fresh for as long as possible. In fact, you’re probably shortening their shelf life. Yikes!
Do eggs need to be refrigerated?
Regarding the first point, this back-and-forth can probably be attributed to cultural differences. Eggs are found in refrigerated aisles in the U.S., while eggs in the U.K. are typically found in unrefrigerated shelves. This difference has to do with regulations imposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but it’s generally agreed upon by Americans that eggs should be refrigerated.
OK, so we know eggs belong in our fridge, but where is the best place to put them to get the longest shelf life possible? Experts say keeping them in the main body of the fridge is ideal because this area maintains a cooler temperature than the door racks where the egg shelf is. When you open the fridge, it lets in warmer air from your kitchen. Keeping the eggs close to the door, thereby warming them up when you open the fridge, will cause your eggs to spoil faster.
How can you keep the rest of your produce fresh for longer?
There’s a whole kind of refrigerator feng shui that can extend the shelf life of your produce. So here’s the low-down on some common foods on your shopping list.
Bread: Bread should be stored in a tightly sealed plastic bag. Once it’s been open for two days, wrap it in freezer bags or foil and chuck it in your freezer. Never—we repeat—NEVER—put bread in the fridge because it will go stale faster.
Cucumbers: Just like bread, your cucumbers should stay out of the fridge. Refrigeration can cause chill injuries—leaving your crisp vegetable mushy and watery. If you’ve laid out your cucumbers on your kitchen counter and they’ve started to go soft, then you can move them to the fridge.
Bananas: Keep bananas in a fruit bowl by themselves on a shelf or counter—not in the fridge. Bananas let off a gas that causes other fruit to ripen, so they’re best left to themselves. If, however, your bananas are already ripe and you want them to last just a bit longer, you can throw them in the fridge.
Tomatoes: Surprisingly, tomatoes shouldn’t go in the crisper with the rest of your fruits and veggies. Keep them on the counters until they go soft, at which point you can move them to the fridge.
Butter: If it’s only for a short period of time, butter doesn’t need to be refrigerated. However, if you want your butter to last for awhile, move it somewhere cool.
Pro-tip: If you want spreadable butter for dinner, take out your butter dish 15-20 minutes before your meal so it has time to soften.
Red wine: Putting an opened bottle of red wine back in the pantry is a big no-no. Warm temperatures speed up oxidation, which is bad for wine, so keep it in the fridge!
Chocolate: A chilled piece of chocolate might be a nice afternoon treat, but chocolate that sits in the fridge can pick up the odors and flavors of anything else sitting in your refrigerator. Instead, keep it in a cool, dry place so it won’t melt.
Ketchup: Unlike the tomatoes which are the main ingredient, ketchup should be stored in the fridge after it’s been opened. Ketchup’s acidity means high temperatures will cause it to go bad.
Mayonnaise: Good ‘ole mayo needs to be refrigerated after opening because it contains eggs and cream.
Jams: Fruit jams, marmalades, and other spreads should find a seat in the fridge once you’ve popped off the lid. But if you haven’t opened them yet, they’re fine to sit in a dark, dry cupboard.
Apples and grapes: Before putting these two fruits in the fridge, don’t wash them! Surprise, surprise—water can speed up decomposition, so don’t wash your fruits until you’re ready to eat them.
Potatoes and onions: Veggies like potatoes, onions, and squash can sit in your pantry.