What to keep in the fridge vs cupboard

Everyone has a view on the best place to store certain foods - either in the fridge or the cupboard - but what’s correct?

Debates about where to store food have changed over generations along with food components. As the demand for healthier processed food has increased, the use of preservatives has declined, so food that once could be stored in the pantry must now be kept in the refrigerator.

Here are some tips for food storage to ensure maximum life. But the easiest way to tell whether to refrigerate or not is to read the label. If it says keep refrigerated, then do so from the moment you bring it home. If it says refrigerate after use, then you can store the food in a cupboard until you open it.

Here’s the verdict on common condiments used in most homes:

  • Tomato sauce – fridge
  • Soy sauce – regular soy sauce can be stored in the pantry, but salt-reduced soy sauce should be kept in the fridge
  • Jam – fridge
  • Pickles – fridge
  • Chocolate – depends. Sometimes the packaging says not to refrigerate as that can affect the quality of the chocolate, especially dark chocolate. But many fancier chocolates with creamy fillings could be a food safety risk if not refrigerated.
  • Long life milk – cupboard until opened, then the fridge.
  • Vegemite – cupboard. The salt helps preserve it.
  • Peanut butter – cupboard. Like Vegemite, the salt helps preserve it.
  • Fruit – store in a fruit bowl and consume once it’s ripe. The fruit to refrigerate immediately after purchase include berries, figs and grapes. Do not wash fruit and vegetables until just before you’re going to eat them because it makes them damp and can encourage mould to grow.
  • Mayonnaise – if it’s shelf stable in a jar or bottle it’s fine to store in the pantry, but once you’ve opened it, refrigerate and use by its best before date. Home-made mayonnaise needs to be eaten as soon as it’s made.
  • Butter – depends. As long as it’s not the height of summer, then butter can be stored in a cupboard or covered dish. Otherwise, store in the fridge and remove in time for it to soften before use.