If you opened your fridge right now, it would be stocked with the usual suspects: yogurt, milk, juice, hummus, guac, and the leftover Thai food from last night’s takeout, to name a few staples. But chances are if you open your pantry and inspect its contents, you might be storing a few items there that you’re much better off keeping in the fridge.
Storing these surprising foods in the fridge can extend their freshness, improve their taste, and even prevent food poisoning in some cases.
Mustard. Yes, even the neon yellow variety. Although diners and ballpark concession stands can get away with leaving out their mustard, you shouldn’t do it at home, and here’s why: This condiment has a shelf life of one or two months. Chances are, that diner is going to go through that mustard in less than a week, so they don’t have much to worry about. You, on the other hand, may take several months to finish that bottle. Keep the mustard bottle in the fridge—unless you know your family can polish off a bottle in a few weeks.
Ketchup. This is the same logic as #1. FYI, it’s normal for ketchup to separate and have a watery layer. However, if your ketchup becomes a dark maroon color instead of its normal bright red hue, it might be time to invest in a new bottle of ketchup.
Dried fruits. Although it is safe to store dried fruit in the pantry, keeping them in the fridge will keep them soft and fresh (for up to six months!). Nobody wants to break their teeth trying to bite into a rock-hard dried apricot, after all.
Nuts. This one surprises lots of people. If you keep nuts on hand but don’t frequently eat them, your nuts (and all of their heart-healthy fats) may be going rancid in the pantry, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. However, if you eat through those bags of almonds and pistachios pretty quickly, you might be fine leaving these in the pantry.
Maple syrup. Everyone’s favorite pancake topping has a shorter lifespan than you think. Your maple syrup should live in the refrigerator, where it’s good for about a year.
Tortillas. All breads have a pretty short shelf life, but tortillas are infamous for having one of the shortest. You can prevent mold growth for a week or two by stashing your tortillas in the fridge. Not sure what to do with all those leftover tortillas? Try making homemade tortilla chips with guacamole or your favorite salsa.
Now that you’ve taken care of these six foods, you’re going to want to check out the 13 foods that should never go in the fridge.