The Reason You Should Never Refrigerate Underripe Fruit

The refrigerator is one of the most important appliances in your home, not just to keep food lasting longer but also to protect your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 48 million people get sick every year from foodborne illnesses. So it seems logical to use the refrigerator for any food products to keep them fresh longer. As noted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, refrigerators do an excellent job of slowing the growth of bacteria in food, which is important since the number of bacteria on a food product can double every 20 minutes when food is kept between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Noting that, you may be tempted to toss everything, even unripened fruit, into the fridge in the hope of helping it to last longer. Also, with the cost of food, many people want to preserve what they buy. Yet, you should never put underripe fruit in the refrigerator, and doing so could do the opposite of your goal.

Ripening fresh fruit

Most unripe fruit should not be put into the refrigerator — cold temperatures will not allow the ripening process to happen properly. The University of Minnesota Extension noted that apricots, bananas, kiwis, pears, peaches, plums, and nectarines should be left at room temperature to ripen. Once they reach that peak freshness and wonderful flavor, you can put them into the refrigerator. Placing them in the fridge at this point will slow down the ripening process, thanks to the appliance's ability to keep bacteria at bay and pause the plant tissue's development. Alternatively, some types of fruit, typically sold at peak levels, including apples, cherries, grapefruit, oranges, pineapple, strawberries, and watermelon, should be refrigerated as soon as you receive them to slow down ripening.

So, what happens in the fridge to slow this progression of maturation? Fruits go through a chemical process to reach the optimal ripening stage. However, that's the same methodology that causes them to break down and rot, as noted by Indiana Public Media. Therefore, tucking unripe fruit into the refrigerator creates a pause in that process and often doesn't allow the fruit to reach its perfect flavor profile.