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Proper Storage for How to Store 7 of your Favorite Condiments

Updated on October 6, 2010

Whenever I go back to visit my parents' house, I'm always astonished to see that they seem to have the same old condiment bottles in their refrigerator that they've had since before I moved out a decade ago. Okay, I'm exaggerating. Still, it seems like my parents (along with a lot of other people) tend to just toss their condiments into the fridge and keep them there for far too long until they're all used up. Is this the best way to store and use your condiments? No.

If you want to get the best flavor from your condiments, then you need to store them properly and use them within a smart period of time. Here you'll find the proper storage information for seven of the most common condiments that people keep in their homes:

  1. Ketchup. Ketchup can be stored in or out of the refrigerator. Even when it has already been opened, you don't have to refrigerate it; you can still store it in a cupboard or cabinet. However, it will last longer if it is stored in the refrigerator. When storing the ketchup outside of the refrigerator, it should still be stored in a cool, dry place. Do not store it near heat-generating appliances like your stove or refrigerator. Before you've opened it, ketchup is usually good in storage for about one year. However, you should use it within one month of opening it for the best flavor.
  2. Mustard. You will get the best life out of your mustard if you store it in the refrigerator although it can be stored at room temperature if you like.  Like with ketchup, this condiment should be stored in a cool, dry place away from heat-generating appliances if you decide not to keep it inside the refrigerator. Stir it when you open it to get the best flavor. Mustard is typically good to be stored for up to two years if it isn't opened. It is good for about six months once it has been opened. This does vary depending on your specific type of mustard, though.
  3. Mayo. This is the most sensitive of all of the popular condiments. It needs to be refrigerated and should never be left out of the fridge for very long at all. It's good unopened for about three months and should be eaten within two months of opening it. Note that you can get mayo in both plastic and glass containers; storing the mayo in glass containers tends to offer a longer life span as the prolonged setting in plastic can alter the taste of this condiment. Also note that this storage information is only for store-bought, commercial mayo and not for homemade mayo which only lasts for a few days at at time.
  4. Hot Sauce. There are different types of hot sauce that store differently. You can generally store chili sauce in the refrigerator if you want to get the best taste. Like ketchup, it will last for about a year when it's unopened but only for about a month after opening it. Tabasco sauce, on the other hand, will generally last for two years.
  5. Soy Sauce. Believe it or not, soy sauce is one of the longest-lasting condiments. You can store it unopened for up to three years and it will still be good. However, you want to use it without about nine months after opening it for the best taste.
  6. Worcestershire Sauce. This condiment is generally stored in the refrigerator although it doesn't have to be. It will last for up to two and a half years in storage.
  7. Vinegar. The type of vinegar you get can affect how you store it and how long it is good for. In general, though, unopened vinegar can safely be stored for about two years.

As you may have noticed, it is important to pay attention to when you open your condiments. The "use by" date may be a year away but you'll get the best flavor if you eat the condiments within the shorter amount of time reflected by the date when you actually opened the condiment bottle for the first time. For that reason, it is a smart idea to get in the habit of labeling your condiments with the date that you open them.


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  • profile image

    raichaun 6 years ago

    Thanks great article, I wanted to know because I absolutely hate cold Ketchup & Barbeque sauce but the bottles always say to refrigerate!

  • crystolite profile image

    Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

    Good information which was properly shared.thanks.

  • profile image

    Carr household 7 years ago

    Thank you! Great info and follow up links too. The question just popped into my mind as I was doing my weekly clean out of the fridge & here was the perfect article to answer all my questions.

  • Rich Cederberg profile image

    Rich Cederberg 7 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

    I think my Worcestershire sauce is like, um, 5 years old at least! And the Tabasco sauce is way older than that.

    Maybe I'll clean out the cupboards soon.

  • Granny's House profile image

    Granny's House 7 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

    Great info. Thank you. My husband hates when I put the mayo and ketcup in the fridge. Now I know I don't have too