Ending the Great Condiment Debate

You like to keep your peanut butter in the fridge. Your spouse says it’s fine on the shelf. Who’s right? Actually, you both are, as long as you plan to finish the jar within a few months. Put an end to the “Great Condiment Debate” with this handy list of storage and shelf life tips for your favorite dressings and spreads:

Like many condiments, ketchup can be stored either in the refrigerator or on the shelf even after it’s been opened. If you don’t use it regularly, however, opt for the fridge. Unopened ketchup will last at least a year. Once opened, it should be used within a month if stored in the cabinet or within six months if stored in the refrigerator.

Unopened mayonnaise stored in the pantry should ideally be used by the “Best By” date on the package (but in most cases will still be good for up to four months after that date). Mayo is made from eggs, so it must be refrigerated once it’s been opened. A jar will last up to three months in the refrigerator and should never be left on the counter for more than an hour or two.

One of the heartier condiments, unopened mustard can still be used after two years on the shelf. Once opened, a jar can be stored for up to two months in the cabinet and a full year in the fridge.

Peanut butter
Unopened jars can be stored in the cabinet for up to nine months. Opened jars are fine for at least a month on the shelf, and considerably longer in the refrigerator.

Jams, jellies, and preserves
Unless they’re homemade or the label instructs otherwise, unopened jars can be stored for at least a year on the shelf, though they will last longer and taste better if refrigerated. Once opened, they’ll last another year in the fridge.

Soy sauce
When it comes to condiments, soy sauce goes the distance. An unopened bottle will last up to three years on the shelf, while an opened bottle can remain in the fridge for up to two years. (Opened soy sauce can be stored on the shelf for a short time, but it lasts far longer when refrigerated.)

Barbeque sauce
BBQ sauce can remain in the cabinet for a year unopened. Once opened, bottles can be stored up to a month on the shelf and up to four months in the refrigerator.

Unopened jars of capers packed in brine can be stored on the shelf for up to three years before opening, and up to a year in the refrigerator after opening.

Cocktail sauce
Store unopened cocktail sauce in the pantry for up to a year and a half. Opened jars can remain on the shelf for up to a month, but will last four months or more in the refrigerator. (Note: Never dip seafood directly into the jar or pour sauce that has come in contact with seafood back into the jar.)

Vegetable oil sprays
Handy spray cans of most varieties of oil will last up to two years in the pantry.

Bottled salsa will last up to 18 months on the shelf and up to a month in the refrigerator. If transferred to a freezer bag or air-tight container, it can be frozen for another two months. Fresh salsa should be opened within two weeks or frozen for up to two months. Once opened, eat it or freeze it within a week (ditto for homemade).

Sources: StillTasty.com, WebMD.com

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