To refrigerate or not to refrigerate, that is the question. For most, the decision on whether to put your groceries in the pantry or the fridge comes entirely down to preference. But did you know that with some foods, there are hard and fast rules when it comes to storage? From the contentious tomato sauce debate to the surprising advice for maple syrup, nutritional scientist Dr. Flavia is breaking down how to store all your condiments.
Tomato sauce and barbeque sauce
Tomato and barbeque sauce lovers fall into two categories – fridge or cupboard. According to Dr. Flavia, the answer is both.
“These sauces are typically very acidic and full of preservatives that provide some protection from spoiling,” she explains to The Weekly. “BUT, storing them in the fridge after opening can prolong their shelf life and maintain the quality and taste that you expect – especially with the high temperatures in summer in Australia!”
However, if your sauce is homemade, Dr. Flavia says it’s best to store it at a lower temperature to extend the shelf life.
Again, this is divisive but in the name of science, Vegemite should generally be stored in the pantry.
“Vegemite has a high salt content, which makes it less prone to microbial growth and can be stored at room temperature. However, refrigeration won’t harm it,” Dr. Flavia says.
This particular condiment does not need refrigeration, in fact, putting in the fridge can cause it to crystallise faster.
“Honey naturally resists spoilage due to its low moisture content and antimicrobial properties, so therefore it does not require refrigeration,” Dr. Flavia adds.
Conversely, pure maple syrup actually needs to be refrigerated because it has no preservatives and is therefore susceptible to mould growth.
Mustard is another condiment where there’s no solid ‘rule’. But Dr. Flavia recommends the fridge.
“Mustard can be stored at room temperature, but like tomato sauce, refrigeration helps maintain its flavour for longer.”
Unless you’re keeping your butter in a butter bell, it needs to be refrigerated.
“Butter can be safely left out for short periods due to its pasteurisation and salt content. However, storage in the fridge is recommended to maintain its freshness and prevent it going rancid,” Dr. Flavia advises.
“Commercial peanut butter can be stored at room temperature due to its low moisture content and preservatives,” Dr. Flavia explains.
However, if it’s a natural peanut butter, it will need to go into the fridge. “Natural peanut butters without preservatives will last longer in the fridge as it prevents the oil from separating and going rancid,” she adds.
“This is due to the natural unsaturated oils that are more prone to going rancid.”