Undoubtedly, many of us are accustomed to storing vegetables in the refrigerator. However, according to experts, for storing certain types of vegetables and fruits, you simply can’t imagine a worse place than a refrigerator. Yes, indeed, in a chilled state, vegetables ripen slowly and, as a result, slowly deteriorate. But at the same time, the refrigerator dries up everything that gets into it.
Now think: in what environment do those parts of the vegetables that we eat grow? This will tell us how best to store them in our kitchen. Following this logic, potatoes, as well as onions, carrots, and other root vegetables, will do much better outside of the refrigerator—say, in a well-ventilated closet.
Chilled potatoes, by the way, can even pose unexpected health risks: as a 2017 New Scientist report says, “You shouldn’t store raw potatoes in the refrigerator. At low temperatures, an enzyme called invertase breaks down sucrose into glucose and fructose, which can form acrylamide during cooking.” The announcement was made in response to warnings from the UK Food Standards Agency about the possible side effects of acrylamide, which are especially likely if potatoes are cooked at temperatures above 120°C – which, it should be noted, includes most dishes, from chips to roasts, in the risk category. . The fact is that, according to research, acrylamide can be a substance that can provoke all types of cancer. However, New Scientist was quick to console its readers by quoting a spokesman for a cancer research charity in the UK that “acrylamide’s exact link to cancer has not been established.”
But what about the rest of the vegetables? According to Jane Scotter, fruit and vegetable expert and owner of a biodynamic farm, “The golden rule is: if something is sun-ripened and has acquired its natural sweetness and purity, don’t put it in the refrigerator.” This means that, for example, tomatoes, as well as all soft fruits, should not be stored in the refrigerator.
As Jane says, “soft fruits and vegetables absorb extraneous flavors incredibly easily and eventually lose their sweetness and flavor.” In the case of tomatoes, this is especially noticeable, because the enzyme that gives the tomato its taste is destroyed in the first place at temperatures below 4 ° C.
But, of course, there is a right use for the refrigerator. Here’s what Jane recommends: “Lettuce or spinach leaves, if you don’t plan to eat them right away, can be safely put in the refrigerator – like most green vegetables, they will keep much longer in the coolness.”
But how to protect the leaves from drying out if they are 90% water? According to Jane, “The leaves should be rinsed with warm water—but not cold, as it will shock them, and certainly not hot, as it will just boil them—then drain, wrap in a plastic bag, and put in the refrigerator. The bag will create a micro-climate for the leaves – and it can be reused many times – in which they will constantly revive by absorbing the moisture formed in the bag.