Why some food items are best when not refrigerated
Deccan Chronicle. | DC Correspondent
Though modern homes cannot think of functioning without a fridge, there are some Dos and Don'ts associated with using it optimally
Just as technology has revolutionised the processing of food, refrigerators have changed the way food is stored, and the duration for which it is preserved. (Representational Image/ DC File)
It’s an invention that every chef and home-maker constantly gives thanks for! The refrigerator has no doubt become a necessity, helping us store foods and bring down wastage. But does every food item require refrigeration?
Just as technology has revolutionised the processing of food, refrigerators have changed the way food is stored, and the duration for which it is preserved. However, not all foods can be stored in cold temperatures, and for those that can be preserved, there are methods of storage that ensure maximum preservation of nutrition.
Here are a few examples of foods that may not require immediate refrigeration:
Bananas: Bananas need to be stored at room temperature. If they are yet to ripen, warm temperature will help. Also, light slows down the process of decay. When refrigerated, the enzymes in the banana come towards the outer skin, which starts decaying, although the fruit may be fine inside. It is always better to consume fruits when they are fresh, as the longer they are stored, the more the Vitamin C gets oxidized and the very purpose of eating fruits is lost.
Honey: Honey crystalises and hardens in the fridge, and becomes unpalatable. When it is left in its original container in a cool, dark spot, it will remain a golden liquid, and can be kept for years. If you have a big bottle of honey along with the honeycomb, and want to store it for a very long time, keep a small quantity at room temperature and store the remaining in the fridge.
Bread: Ever wonder why the sandwiches you make using bread stored in the fridge are hard and tasteless? Bread goes stale quickly, so when there are large quantities of it, there is a tendency to put it away in the fridge. However, bread dries out in cold temperatures and becomes crumbly. That’s because the starches regroup and revert to their original crystalized state when exposed to cold. The best way to store bread is to keep it in an airtight container in the freezer and let it thaw completely before taking it out of the container when you need to use it.
Avocado: Avocados kept in the refrigerator will not ripen and this will affect their flavour. The best way to ripen them is to leave them in a warm, dark place. You can cut them up and store them in the fridge once they are completely ripe, and take out small portions as needed.
Chocolate: The taste and texture of chocolate that is stored in cold temperatures can be adversely affected. The sugar rises to the top and causes a whitish discoloration on the surface, making it look unappealing. Chocolate also has a tendency to attract microbes from other foods as it is a good medium for growth and this can destroy the nutrients in the chocolate and also its other properties.
Tomatoes: According to researchers, tomatoes stop producing some of the substances that contribute to their taste when exposed to cold. They should be stored at room temperature in order to preserve taste, aroma and texture.
Ketchup & chutneys: Ketchup is not usually stored in the fridge. However, it is better to refrigerate large bottles which seem to last a long time, in order to inhibit microbial growth. And preservatives-free ketchup should be stored in the fridge to prevent it from getting spoilt quickly. The same goes for chutneys, preserves and other processed foods.
Meat and Meat products: Animal products are a great breeding ground for microbes, and the contamination can spill over to other foods. Repeated thawing of these products can encourage bacterial growth, destroy nutritive value and even cause food poisoning. So, do not keep thawing and then putting back meat or other animal products in the fridge. Take out only as much as you need for each use. Though in commercial establishments vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods are stored separately, in homes, that luxury is not usually available. The best we can do is to store them in separate areas of the fridge, to avoid cross-contamination.