How to get the most out of those condiments in your fridge. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post.
How to get the most out of those condiments in your fridge. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post.

How to get the most out of those condiments in your fridge

By Becky Krystal Time of article published Apr 15, 2020

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We're all spending a lot more time at home now, sifting through our pantries and refrigerators. 

Produce and meat we know are use it or lose it. But what about all those condiments? 

You know, the kind of stuff you dip into occasionally - the kind of stuff you are definitely not going to make a special trip to the store for, especially now with the need for social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak.

Before getting into the specifics of how long these various items will last, here are a few tips:

Keep track of how long the bottle or jar has been open

It may be too late for what's already in your pantry or refrigerator, but in the future you can make a concerted effort to label the container with the date you opened it. Write it on with permanent marker, slap on a piece of painter's or masking tape, whatever. Don't rely on the best-by dates since that tells you nothing about when you actually opened the food.

Refrigeration 
It can extend the life and quality (colour, flavour, texture) of items that could also be stored in the pantry, such as hot sauce and peanut butter. With regard to shelf-stable mustard, mayo, barbecue sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce and salsa experts say: "Refrigeration ensures that commercial sauces and condiments stay fresh for a longer period of time. . . . Quality, not safety, is the reason the labels on these products suggest that they be refrigerated after opening."

Use common sense

Below you'll find the government-recommended storage times, but we're realists. We know most of us keep things around longer than the guidelines suggest. They are a helpful baseline, however. If you decide to go beyond them, be attentive to signs of spoilage - mould, suspicious odours, etc.

These guidelines have been pulled from the FoodKeeper database. Unless otherwise noted, each category includes how long the unopened product can be stored in your pantry unopened followed by suggested refrigeration time after opening.
Refrigeration can extend the life and quality (colour, flavour, texture) of items that could also be stored in the pantry, such as hot sauce and peanut butter. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post.
Barbecue sauce: 1 year; 4 months (see note above on shelf-stable).
Chutney: 1 year; 1 to 2 months.
Hoisin: 18 to 24 months; 3 to 6 months.
Honey: Consume within 2 years (store in pantry).
Horseradish: 12 months when stored in refrigerator; 3 to 4 months refrigerated after opening.
Hot sauce: 9 to 12 months; 6 months in the pantry after opening, although refrigeration will better retain heat.
Jams, jellies and preserves: 6 to 18 months; 6 to 12 months.
Ketchup: 1 years; 6 months (see note above on shelf-stable).
Maple syrup: Consume within 12 months if stored in pantry, refrigeration will extend life.
Mayonnaise: 3 to 6 months; 2 months (see note above on shelf-stable).
Mustard: 1 to 2 years; 1 year (see note above on shelf-stable).
Oyster sauce: 18 to 24 months; 3 to 6 months.
Peanut butter: 1 year when stored in refrigerator and 3 to 4 months refrigerated after opening (natural); 6 to 9 months when stored in pantry or 12 months stored in refrigerator, 2 to 3 months in pantry or 3 to 4 months refrigerated after opening (commercial, stabilized).
Pickles: 1 year; 1 to 3 months.
Relish: 30 months; 9 months.
Salad dressing: 10 to 12 months; 1 to 3 months.
Salsa: 1 year; 1 month (see note above on shelf-stable).
Soy sauce or teriyaki sauce: 3 years; 1 month.
Tahini: 1 year; 3 weeks.
Vinegar: Can last essentially indefinitely, though KSU suggests 2 years in the pantry unopened and 1 year opened.
Worcestershire sauce: 1 year (unopened or opened) in pantry.

The Washington Post 

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