Optimum temperature for eating & storing food
The other day I made a simple salad, plump room temperature tomatoes, with chilled spring onions, hot toasted pumpkin seeds and warm black rice. What made the salad so delicious was that each ingredient was at it's perfect temperature. When I mentioned it to our team it prompted a long debate ("You don’t keep your tomatoes in the fridge?" "Erm, no. I think potatoes are the only vegetable I do keep in the fridge." "WHAT. Potatoes are the only vegetable I DON’T keep in the fridge!" etc. etc.) about what exactly is the optimum temperature for our food.
There is a great divide on the age-old question as to whether eggs should be stored in the fridge or kept at room temperature. The bottom line seems to be that because of the differences in hen vaccination policies, Americans are advised to store their eggs in the fridge, but Brits can keep theirs at room temperature and they will be perfectly safe, as British laws require that all egg hens be vaccinated for Salmonella. For fruit and veg, this PDF sheet lays it all out clearly. Essentially, you want to keep citrus fruits, cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, aubergine and winter squash at room temperature. Any cut vegetables, herbs or leaves, carrots, cauliflower and berries keep best in the fridge.
A study named 'Heat as a Factor in the Perception of Taste, Smell, and Oral Sensation' shows that changes in the temperature of foods and drinks have an effect on the taste intensity of sour, bitter and astringent tastes. Namely, as temperature rises, perceptions of sweetness and bitterness tend to intensify. So coffee is served hot to emphasise the rich bitter taste. And I probably like my tomatoes at room temperature as they're sweeter! If your interest has been piqued, we also found a whole paper dedicated to finding the optimum temperature cheddar cheese should be consumed at. Madness.