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Techly Explains: Does fruit belong in the fridge?

When it comes to storing food, everyone seems to have their own bespoke approach.

My wife, for example, has been known to refrigerate chips. CHIPS, people! I can confirm that on more than one occasion I have opened the fridge and found an opened bag of Doritos inside.

Meanwhile, both my father and father-in-law have decided that one fridge is simply not enough. Both of them currently run two-fridge households, and the fridges are always full. Visiting either father is like stumbling into a survivalist’s bunker.

Recently, Dad gave me some olives that he’d been preserving for two years in Fridge B. They were sitting right behind a five-kilo bag of cashews.

So what about storing your fruit?

The best way to answer it is to look at each category of fruit – berry, pit, core, citrus, melon and tropical – on a case-by-case basis.


E.g. strawberries, blueberries, raspberries

Writing for Extra Crispy, senior editor of Food and Drinks Kat Kinsman notes that berries are a frequent source of heartbreak since they go bad so quickly.

To prevent mould and extend berries’ freshness, she suggests rinsing them in a mixture of one cup white vinegar and four cups of water, then storing them in a paper-towel-lined sealable container, with the lid slightly ajar. You should then aim to eat them within two weeks.

If that sounds like too much work, just freeze the little suckers.


E.g. cherries, peaches, plums

According to Still Tasty, a site dedicated to food shelf life, peaches and plums continue to ripen or soften after they’ve been picked, so premature refrigeration will cause them to lose flavour and ruin their texture.

Store these fruits at room temperature until they’re fully ripe or soft, then refrigerate them.

Don’t even think about letting cherries sit around though. Kinsman suggests you get those in the fridge “as soon as humanly possible”, preferably inside a plastic bag.


E.g. apples and pears

Apples and pears emit ethylene gas, which makes other fruit ripen quickly or even rot, so be careful what you store them next to. Kinsman suggests that it is fine to leave apples out for up to a week and pears for two to three days, but after that, they should be refrigerated.


E.g. lemons, limes and oranges

Still Tasty says that citrus fruits won’t ripen any further once they’ve been picked and will last longest if you get them into the fridge immediately. However, citrus is OK to leave out for around a week, providing that it’s a cool, dark place.

As with cherries, Kinsman says that using plastic zip-lock bags is good for refrigerating citrus.


E.g. watermelon, honeydew melons

Kinsman says that it is fine to leave a honeydew melon on a counter for a day or two, where it will continue to ripen, but after that it should go into the fridge (again, in a plastic bag).

Watermelons are a bit of a special case, and should never be refrigerated. A study by U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers found doing so robs watermelons of large amounts of their nutritional value.


E.g. avocados, bananas and mangoes

This is a pretty broad category, but the general rule here is to ripen them before refrigeration. For example, Still Tasty suggests that you shouldn’t refrigerate avocados until they are fully ripe and after that, they will last up to five days in the fridge.

Like apples and pears, bananas also release ethylene, so you best keep them away from things you don’t want to ripen fast.

With the exception of watermelon, it looks like all fruits belong in the fridge. In some cases, you’ll need to ripen them first and plastic zip-lock bags are almost always a good idea.

Dad kept the olives – which technically are a fruit – in a bowl with gladwrap over it. And I won’t lie, they were delicious.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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