The Daily Telegraph

I don’t care what experts say: we put too much food in the fridge

- Judith woods

Before I begin my bossy peroration on the correct storage of potatoes, let me say three little words: I am Irish. That means unless you happen to be Peruvian – swoon! – what I say goes. And first off, you know what doesn’t go? Potatoes into a fridge.

After years spent telling people not to refrigerat­e potatoes because of the health risk, food agencies and consumer groups have now changed their minds. Dire warnings that keeping raw spuds at low temperatur­es would lead to extra sugars forming, which in turn would morph into the carcinogen acrylamide when fried, roasted or baked, have been jettisoned.

I’m sure it’s just coincidenc­e, but how felicitous this new advice coincides with The Great Scurvy Revival, now that cucumbers are in shorter supply than transplant organs and the radish harvest has been slapped with an export ban worthy of Sir Joshua Reynolds’ £50 million Portrait of Omai.

But the thing is; no. Just no. For a start, any cool dark space will do nicely for those Maris Pipers and, given the cost of living crisis, most mornings the nation’s gardens are warmer than their bedrooms. Also, if my house is anything to go by, our ruddy fridges are already rammed full; of bread, of fresh coffee, onions. All punctiliou­sly chilled for no good reason other than a peculiar declassé prissiness that it’s somehow more hygienic.

Covid was a catalyst. Having spent a decade and a half convincing my spouse that mushrooms should be cleaned using a damp piece of kitchen roll rather than a water cannon, it was irksome to be told to hose down food packets during the pandemic. Even after we learned the virus was airborne, some people (you know who you are) couldn’t shake the habit.

Now, I’m no fan of food waste; it’s a disgrace that four million tons are thrown away each year, costing each of us around £210. The planetary price tag is even higher; rotting food is worse than excess packaging as when it decomposes it releases methane, a gas far more likely to cause global warming than carbon dioxide.

But shoving things into the fridge, where the courgettes will eventually form a pool at the bottom of the veg drawer, underneath the cryogenica­lly suspended Little Gem, won’t help. Planning meals might. But hey, common sense doesn’t come into it.

My husband and I aren’t really into “Live, Laugh, Cry All You Want Nobody’s Watching” slogans hung about the home. But if we were, I would commission a hand-carved sign bearing the legend “The Flies & The Fungus” for the kitchen. This is the cry that goes up if I so much as turn my back on a casserole.

I will own that there was once A Curious Incident involving overripe bananas in the fruit bowl and an overlooked pan of potage. But that was in a heatwave. And when I’m packing up for a weekend away, I can’t remember everything. Alas, as a result of the toxic welcoming committee that greeted our return, The Flies & The Fungus (F&F) has entered family folklore and as penance everything must be consigned to the fridge; cake, jam, oranges, even tomatoes.

You remember tomatoes, don’t you? I dimly recall they tasted better at room temperatur­e, but I fear they have become our Proustian madeleines. And when it comes to Remembranc­e of Things Past, let’s not forget our stockpile of turnips. Blanched. In the freezer. Surrounded by security guards and protected by laser beams. Or – and this is just a thought – we could just take them out and eat them. If the Food Standards Agency gives us permission.

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