The Ingredients Ina Garten Always Stores At Room Temperature

To refrigerate or not to refrigerate — that is the question. And it's an especially relevant one when you've just returned from the supermarket, and there doesn't seem to be enough room in the refrigerator for everything you think needs to be kept cold. 

But the fact is, while many food items benefit from being stored in temperatures at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (the temperature at which most refrigerators are kept), some of the fresh market items we buy don't necessarily need to be stored this way, because they actually benefit from being at room temperature — somewhere between 64 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit. These items include fruits like bananas and persimmons, while other fruits like melons, mangoes, papayas, and peaches are happy to go with or without refrigeration.

While the consensus is citrus fruits like oranges and lemons last longer when they are kept in the refrigerator, they are equally happy to sit on a countertop as long as they are consumed within a week or so. Given that lemon often makes an appearance in Ina Garten's recipes, from a simple skillet-roasted lemon chicken and lemon capellini, to shrimp scampi with garlic and lemon juice, we can see why Garten might want to keep her lemons on her countertop.

Ina Garten's tip involving fresh eggs may not work in your kitchen

But lemons aren't the only ingredient that shouldn't be bound for cold storage. To make meal prep go more smoothly, Garten also keeps eggs, oranges, and garlic out all the time because they are better when they are at room temperature. She suggests that eggs stored this way are better for baking and that citrus fans benefit when the fruit isn't cold because they are juicier as a result. And as a former policy writer for the White House, we shouldn't be surprised that the culinary science backs Garten up. 

Ingredient temperatures matter particularly where baking is concerned, because room-temperature ingredients, or items like butter and eggs which are left at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, are mixed more efficiently, giving your baked goods the structure they need — whether its a cake that needs to be soft and spongey, or cookies with the perfect mouthfeel. Garten's need for her lemons to be primed and ready is understandable, too, because other than her many lemon-based recipes, her go-to lemon vinaigrette also uses plenty of the ingredient. 

While the USDA discourages keeping store-bought (as opposed to farm-fresh) eggs at room temperature, with all the cooking and baking that Garten does, we'd be surprised if any of her go-to ingredients stick around for long.