10 Storage-Tricky Foods Explained

Storing these 10 kitchen staples should be easy, but there are rules to follow to keep them tasting their best from Food Network.

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Nuts

Store: In the Freezer

Why? The high levels of natural oils in nuts can turn rancid. Cold temperatures slow down the process and the darkness of the freezer protects nuts from light exposure, which also causes nuts to go stale.

Whole Grains

Store: In the pantry if used often — otherwise, in the freezer

Why? The healthy oils found in whole grains are impacted by heat, light and moisture. If grains are in heavy rotation, they'll keep in an airtight container for three to six months; if they smell musty, they need to be tossed. Whole grains and whole-grain flours will keep in a freezer for up to a year. Keep flours in a pantry for no more than one to three months; store them in the freezer for up to six months.

Potatoes

Store: In the pantry

Why? Potatoes may seemingly keep for longer in a refrigerator, but don't be fooled: Cold temperatures will convert the starch in potatoes into sugar, causing an unpleasant change in taste.

Tomatoes

Store: On a countertop, away from heat, moisture and light

Why? The cellular structure of this fruit collapses in the cold, resulting in a mealy tomato. They'll continue to ripen at room temperature and will keep for about three days once ripe.

Onions

Store: In the pantry

Why? The dark, cool confines of the pantry will allow for circulation, preventing a shortened shelf life as well as a loss of crispness, which can be caused by cold storage in a refrigerator.

Bread

Store: In the freezer

Why? Fresh bread may go stale or bad within a few days. Not only will freezer storage prolong the shelf life, but it takes only minutes for bread to defrost on the countertop, and the bread can be used in a toaster or oven direct from the freezer.

Garlic

Store: In the pantry or refrigerator

Why? Garlic is one of the rare items on the list that benefits from moisture to prevent it from becoming rock hard. In dry climates, particularly during the winter, garlic will shrivel and rapidly lose moisture, making the crisper drawer the ideal place for storage. However, once garlic's stored in the cold, it will sprout within days of being stored at room temperature.

Basil

Store: On the counter

Why? While most herbs benefit from cold storage in a refrigerator, treat basil as you would fresh-cut flowers: Trim the ends and stick them in a glass of water to keep them fresh for days.

Bananas

Store: On the counter or in the refrigerator

Why? Bananas will ripen at room temperature. Once ripe, bananas may be stored in the refrigerator — the peels will turn black from the cold temperature, but the bananas will remain edible and keep for a few days before becoming overripe. However, once bananas have been refrigerated, they may not be able to resume the ripening process once brought back to room temperature.

Apples

Store: In the refrigerator

Why? Apples will continue to ripen if left at room temperature, causing them to go mealy after a few days. Storage in a refrigerator will keep apples crisp for up to three weeks.