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Do Avocados Need to Be Refrigerated? Plus Other Food Storage Tips

Fall Pantry with Jars With Pickled Vegetables.

We all want the food we buy to remain fresh and tasty for as long as possible, and using proper food storage methods is among the most effective ways to prolong a perishable item’s shelf life. But how are you supposed to know which foods are supposed to go where?

To make things easier for you, here are a few foods and condiments that should be stored in a different spot than you’ve probably been led to believe.

How to Store Avocados

Avocados on a dark wood background.
Nataliya Arzamasova/Shutterstock.com

We all know how tricky it is to keep cut avocados fresh and prevent them from turning brown after more than a day or so, but we also all know that cut avocados should always go in the fridge. Is the same true for whole avocados, though?

To start, you’re better off keeping your whole avocados at room temperature, at least until they reach peak ripeness. They’ll ripen faster in room-temperature areas, such as in a woven basket on the kitchen counter.

Once your avocados are ripe, go ahead and stash them in the fridge. Uncut whole avocados will last in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 days.

Yamesu Vegetable-Shaped Food Saver/Storage Containers

These specialty containers will help keep cut fruits and vegetables from going bad in the fridge-- including avocados.

How to Store Nuts

A variety of nuts in wooden bowls.
Krzysztof Slusarczyk/Shutterstock.com

Nuts of all kinds are a handy source of protein and other nutrients, especially for vegetarians and vegans. They’re a tasty, easy-to-grab snack on their own, or make great additions to oatmeal, salads, and much more. Since nuts are a dry, non-perishable food, you probably keep them in your pantry or kitchen cupboard.

As odd as it sounds, however, you should keep your nuts in the fridge instead, no matter the variety.

While nuts can last at room temperature for 4 months or so (slightly longer if they’re still in their shells), they will eventually turn rancid and start to smell. To extend their shelf life, keep your nuts cold in the refrigerator instead, especially if you buy them in bulk quantities– they’ll last as long as a year this way.

You can also freeze your nuts if you really want them to last. Since most varieties contain almost no water, they’ll hold up very well in an airtight container in the freezer.

Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Containers

Not sure if your food containers are airtight and freezer-safe? This set of five containers are both.

How to Store Maple Syrup

Maple syrup in glass bottle on wooden table.

When enjoying a plate of fresh waffles or fluffy pancakes, it’s hard to beat topping them off with a drizzle of sweet, gooey maple syrup. These combinations are classic, widely loved breakfast staples for a reason.

When it comes to real maple syrup— the good stuff made from the sap of maple trees, not the commercial imitation corn syrup– you absolutely need to keep it refrigerated.

Real maple syrup doesn’t contain any preservatives so it will quickly grow mold if it’s left out at room temperature. Even a dark, cool storage space like a root cellar may not be cold enough to prevent mold growth, so play it safe and stick your maple syrup in the fridge. Even with the lack of preservatives, it will last up to 2 years in the refrigerator.

hunnibi Glass Syrup Dispenser for Pancakes

This cute and unique dispenser allows you to pour maple syrup and other condiments over your food without the risk of spilling.

How to Store Hot Sauce

Tabasco sauce bottle on dark background Selective focus.
Dariia Seremchuk/Shutterstock.com

Spicy, acidic, and vinegary, hot sauce is a flavorful and versatile condiment. It’s great on chicken wings, in dips, over tacos, and much, much more. This chili pepper-based sauce is available in a surprising number of varieties and flavors too.

Bottles of hot sauce at the grocery store are displayed on shelves rather than in any of the refrigerated sections, so it’s obviously safe to keep hot sauce at room temperature when sealed. But what about once the bottle is open?

As it turns out, the decision is up to you. Hot sauce contains quite a bit of vinegar, and vinegar essentially never goes bad even when it’s not refrigerated. So stashing your hot sauce in the cupboard or pantry is perfectly safe, whether the bottle is opened or closed.

That said, there’s no harm in keeping hot sauce in the fridge instead. In fact, refrigerating it will allow your hot sauce to keep its flavor for longer.

DIY Gift Kits Standard Hot Sauce Making Kit

This kit has everything you need to make your own hot sauces, including the peppers.

How to Store Garlic

Garlic Cloves and Bulb in vintage wooden bowl.
Marian Weyo/Shutterstock.com

Garlic is the star of many dishes across a wide variety of cooking styles, one of the most popular and widely used spices across the board. (Vampires notwithstanding.) While garlic powder or bottled, pre-diced garlic is definitely an option, many recipes call for fresh cloves or bulbs instead.

You’ll want to avoid storing fresh garlic bulbs in the fridge, even if you’ve already peeled them. Garlic bulbs will start to sprout in the fridge after a few days, just like potatoes that have sat on the counter for too long. They also fare better with some airflow, so placing a garlic bulb in an airtight container will cause it to rot rather than preserve it.

Instead, keep your garlic bulbs in a basket on your kitchen countertops to ensure they last longer. Whole, unpeeled garlic bulbs will last at room temperature for 3 to 4 months at a time. Even if you’ve already peeled and cut your garlic, those individual cloves should still last up to 10 days in a mesh bag on your kitchen countertop.

If you’re worried you’re not going to use up all your garlic in time, you can place unpeeled garlic bulbs in a freezer bag and freeze them for up to 6 months. But let’s be honest, that’s not an issue for most of us.

ANERONG Garlic Press Set

If you do opt to use fresh garlic cloves, be sure to grab this garlic press set that can mince, slice, clean, and peel your garlic as needed.

How to Store Coconut Oil

Jar of coconut butter and fresh coconuts with palm leaf on wooden background.
Inna Dodor/Shutterstock.com

Coconut oil is great not just as a cooking oil but in homemade body scrubs, hair masks, and other beauty purposes. Therefore big tub of coconut oil is an increasingly common sight in many households. But where should you be storing said vat of coconut oil?

Most oils will eventually turn rancid if they’re not used up in time, and coconut oil is no exception. It will last for 3 to 6 months in your pantry or cupboard just fine (refined oil will last longer than unrefined), but you’re better off keeping your coconut oil in the fridge. It’s capable of lasting as long as 2 years when chilled.

Keep in mind that coconut oil should be in its solid rather than liquid form in storage, no matter where you stash it. Not only will coconut oil last longer in the fridge but you’ll never have to worry about it melting in warmer weather, which has been known to happen when it’s in the cupboard or pantry.

Better Shea Butter Body Butter Making Kit

This body butter kit has everything you need to make your own at home, including coconut oil.

How to Store Cakes

Red velvet cake on wood board.
Alexandra Harashchenko/Shutterstock.com

Cake is (usually) topped with some kind of frosting or icing so you’d assume that cake should be refrigerated, whether or not it’s been cut. But many bakeries often have cakes and cupcakes on display at room temperature, on trays or shelves. As it turns out, those bakeries know what they’re doing.

While you can refrigerate cake and cupcakes, chilly or cold air will dry it out over time, even if you wrap it up in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Thus cake actually does best when left at room temperature, as long as your kitchen isn’t too hot. You will want to wrap it up to keep bugs and dust off, though. Leaving it on a plate and covering it with plastic wrap or foil will work fine but a cake stand with a cover or dome is even better.

The only time you’ll want to put cake in the fridge is if your kitchen is extremely hot and humid, which will cause it to go bad, or if you notice the frosting is liquified and melting off.

Homeries Bamboo Cake Stand With Acrylic Dome Cover

If you want to keep your cake on the counter you'll need a cake stand like this one, especially since this particular model happens to be more multifunctional than most.

How to Store Potatoes

Fresh potatoes in an old sack on wooden background.

Potatoes fare best when they’re stored in a cool, dry place, preferably in a darker environment– they are root vegetables that grow underground, after all. Since they prefer cooler temperature, you might think that the fridge is an ideal place for your potatoes, but that’s not quite accurate.

While spuds do well in cooler locations, if the temperature gets too cold it’s not good for the starches found in all potatoes. It leads to “cold-induced sweetening” which converts the starches into sugars, and the moisture of the fridge risks turning them mushy as well.

Thus the fridge is definitely not the best place for your potatoes. However, they don’t do well in particularly warm environments either, so you’ll want to avoid stashing them at room temperature on the kitchen countertop either. A root cellar is the best place to store potatoes if you have one, but they’ll do well in a bowl or open paper bag in the pantry as well.

You can freeze potatoes too, though you’ll have to at least partially cook them first so they don’t get too soggy. Also be sure not to store your potatoes and onions together; it’s not good for either vegetable.

Sopito Professional Potato Cutter

Potatoes are challenging to cut on the best days, but this handy slicer will do the job for you. It's great for other hard-to-cut vegetables too.

It’s important to always store all your food where it’ll hold up best, both for food safety purposes and to ensure that it lasts as long as possible. This will not just help you cut down on food waste and prevent you from wasting the money you spent on your groceries, but helps to ensure your meals and snacks taste as good as possible.


Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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