By Andrea Beck
Everyone stores their groceries differently, and sometimes that sparks debate over where specific ingredients should be kept. Should butter go in the fridge or on the counter? What about ketchup? And do you store your nuts in a container in the cupboard or the fridge? Sometimes, the best place to store some of your grocery items can come as a surprise, so we gathered up a few items that could go either way. In most cases, these groceries won’t go bad right away if you happen to leave them on the counter or in your pantry, but they’ll last longer in the fridge (which might mean you can save a little on your grocery bill, too!).
1. Nuts (and Natural Nut Butters)
We know you’re probably used to leaving your nuts out on the counter or tucked in the pantry, but if you want them to last, it’s better to keep them in the fridge. The oils in nuts can go rancid over time, but storing them in the fridge will help prevent that. You can still store nuts on your countertop for a couple of months, but if you have any that you want to save longer, just pop them in the fridge. If you feel like they’re getting a stale flavor from the fridge, toast them for a few minutes and they’ll be snack-worthy again. The same is true for natural nut butters too, like organic peanut butter. The oils in natural nut butters can also go rancid, so you should keep them in the fridge after opening a jar.
2. Whole Grain and Whole Wheat Flours
Flour is undeniably a pantry staple, but if you stock your shelves with whole grain or whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, you should make some space for it in the fridge. As the name suggests, whole grain flour is made from whole grains of wheat—that includes the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. The bran and the germ are high in vitamins, nutrients, and healthy fats, which can go rancid over time (and they can also attract unwanted pests to munch on your flour). To help preserve them and keep away pantry pests, store any whole grain flour you have in your fridge. In contrast, all-purpose flour is usually made with just the endosperm, which doesn’t have as much oil, so it’s fine to keep in your cupboard.
3. Condiments (Like Ketchup and Soy Sauce)
Restaurants may leave their ketchup bottles out on the table, but that doesn’t mean you should. Heinz has stated before that their ketchup is shelf-stable due to its natural acidity, but they also added a caveat: Consumers should still refrigerate their ketchup after opening it. Once your ketchup is open, it’s easier for the product to deteriorate over time, especially after a month at room temperature (you should also refrigerate homemade ketchup). Soy sauce is a similar case—it’s unlikely to spoil if you store it in your cupboard because of its high sodium content, but it can still lose its flavor over time if it’s not stored in the fridge.
4. Sweet Corn
For the best flavor, you should cook and eat sweet corn right after it’s been picked. But if you wind up with a lot of extra ears on your hands, don’t leave them out on your countertop like you would with most fruits and veggies. Unless you preserve your corn, sweet corn starts to lose its flavor after harvesting. Storing it in the fridge with the husks on will help it to last longer, and keep more of its sweet flavor.
5. Flour Tortillas
It’s true that you probably just grab a bag of tortillas off the shelf at the grocery store, but once you get them home and open them, you should keep leftovers in the fridge. This isn’t a case where your extra tortillas will go bad right away if you leave them on the counter, but they will dry out sooner than if you store them in the fridge. Keeping your flour tortillas in the fridge will extend their shelf-life by as much as a few weeks, so it’s worth saving those extras in the fridge for the next taco night.
These tips may leave you with less space in your fridge, but trust us, they’ll pay off in the long run. While there are plenty of foods that are better left out of the fridge, in these instances, giving up some fridge space will help your groceries last longer and taste fresher when you use them. Plus, you can finally settle the debate in your house about whether ketchup belongs in the fridge or on the counter!
Some good tips from Better Homes and Gardens