It’s the one question that everyone has not just an answer to but a stance that is as unshakeable as Luke Skywalker’s commitment to the Rebellion.
Fridge or cupboard?
We’re not just talking about tomato sauce or mayo, what about the newer condiments, like kimchi, that have slowly made their way into our cupboards (or fridges)?
Behold, your definitive guide. And take note, we’ve labelled them either fridge or cupboard based on which would extend their life the longest.
OK, so unopened, you can keep it in the cupboard for about a year. Once you crack the lid and you still like it at room temperature, you have about a month. If you keep it in the fridge, you’ll stretch its life by another five months.
With mayo, it’s all about the ‘use by’ date. If you don’t open it, you can actually go up to four months past it. But once you open it, it should keep for about three months in the fridge.
Unopened, it will go nine months without issue. Opened, it’ll keep in the cupboard for about three months. Keeping it in the fridge only adds another month to it… however you might want to consider refrigerating it around this time if don’t want the oils to separate, which they can at room temperature.
Look, you can pretty much do what you like with jam, generally you’ll get about a year out of them no matter where you keep them, but refrigerating them straight away will help them preserve their flavour.
If stored properly, this stuff will last forever. Seriously, archaeologists discovered unspoiled pots of honey in Egyptian tombs and is one of the very few foods created with the sole purpose of being stored. Over time, however, it can lose flavour as it darkens over time, but as long as it’s kept in a sealed container and you don’t use a buttery or crumb-laden knife to dig it out, it won’t become a hotbed of bacteria. Like ever.
There was a reason why the only thing found in Otto’s fridge was mustard. It stays good for a LONG time, as long as you keep it cold. Unopened, it can go a full two years. Opened, it’ll last about a year. But kept in the cupboard, opened, three months.
Many assume that, like the firey gates of hell, hot sauces like Tabasco will last forever. Not so. But it will last about five years, opened or unopened. Interestingly, while you might think that these sauces get better as they darken with age, again, not so. If your hot sauce darkens, the official line from Tabasco is to chuck it.
In Korea, there’s no such thing as ‘bad’ kimchi as it’s always gradually fermenting. However, storage temperature is absolutely key for kimchi. A stable temperature is so important, there’s special fridges specifically for storing it. One online commenter posted that if you don’t eat kimchi regularly, buy the smallest jar you can find to minimise waste.
Unopened, most dressings will keep for about a year. If it’s a creamy dressing and you’ve just opened it, you have about a month to get through it. An Italian or French style will keep for about three months.
This is a god damn condiment superhero. Unopened, three years in the pantry. Opened, two years. If you want to keep it out on the counter, it’ll keep for about two or three months before it starts to go downhill, flavour-wise.
Take note of the best before date on the bottle. Unopened, it’ll be fine for an entire year past this date. Once you open it, you’ll get about a year out of it, as long as you keep it in the fridge, but if you must keep it in the cupboard, you have about four months.
The official line from Vegemite is that it’s a ‘shelf stable product’ and, once opened, it’ll last right up until it’s best before date. But due to its high salt content, it might just last the zombie apocalypse. An amusing online thread about whether someone could eat seven-year-old Vegemite, the general consensus was that it was ‘probably OK’.
Unopened, this Aussie staple to make ‘choc ices, choc ices’ can be left in the cupboard for about two years, but jeez, what kind of monster does that. It’s hard to know when Ice Magic starts to go bad after being opened as there is no information on the bottle and its manufacturer, Heinz, didn’t return calls or emails over this burning question. But to be honest, we kind of doubt it’s ever happened as an opened bottle of Ice Magic usually lasts about, oh you know, half a second.
But with any condiment, if it starts to smell or taste a bit funny, ditch it.