We set the record straight on the fridge versus pantry debate. Plus, we explain how long condiments actually keep.

Everyone knows that condiments have expiration dates, but people spout all sorts of advice on where and how long you should actually store them. Should they be refrigerated or left at room temperature? Is the expiration date flexible? We decided to get the official word. According to Argyris K. Magoulas at the Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Education in the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service department, "Most condiments are very stable foods. The refrigeration called for is more for qualitative reasons."

Credit: Johnny Miller

With that in mind, the department developed recommendations for storing all kinds of food and beverages, including condiments. Magoulas also made clear that these guidelines strictly apply to store-bought, commercial products, not homemade, which spoil much more quickly. As food lovers, why wouldn't we want our condiments to taste as fresh as possible? Here's how and where to store everything from mustard and mayo to ketchup and soy sauce.


Unopened, mustard should be stored for one to two years in the pantry. Opened, store your mustard in the fridge for up to one year.


Mayonnaise that's unopened can be stored in the pantry for three to six months. Once you've opened a jar, you should keep in the fridge for no longer than two months.


Ketchup that hasn't been opened can be stored in the pantry for one year. Opened, you'll want to keep it in the fridge for up to six months..

Soy sauce

Unopened, soy sauce may be stored for up to three years in the pantry. After it's been opened, store your soy sauce in the fridge, and plan to replace it after one month.

Barbecue Sauce

If it hasn't been opened, your favorite jar of barbecue sauce can be stored in your pantry for up to one year. Opened, it should be store for four months in the fridge.

Jarred Horseradish

Unopened, you can store jarred horseradish in the fridge for up to one year. Once it's been opened, you should keep it for just three to four months.


Whether it's unopened or open, you can store vinegar in the pantry for two years.

Worcestershire sauce

Like vinegar, unopened or open Worcestershire sauce can be stored in the pantry for two years.


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