The line between what “could” and “should” be kept in the fridge can be furrier than a year-old jar of pesto.
A survey by Which? found that just one in five of the people surveyed checked a condiment’s label to see where it should be stored. Marriages have exploded, families have warred and housemates have done unspeakable things with toothbrushes over the kinds of arguments that can erupt over whether ketchup should be kept in the fridge or the cupboard.
The Love Food Hate Waste campaign has a fairly definitive A-Z of food storage on its website, full of interesting titbits such as “tucking in” your mushrooms under a tea towel in the fridge. Adorable.
According to the site, eggs are best kept in the fridge. Bananas and uncooked pineapple should live in the fruit bowl, but most other fresh fruit and vegetables can be given an extended shelf life by being refrigerated. Just be sure, they suggest, to bring them back up to room temperature before cooking or eating to increase the flavour.
Potatoes and onions belong in a cool, dark place such as a vegetable basket, ideally in a cloth bag (except spring onions, which should be kept in the fridge). You can also store soy sauce, ketchup, brown sauce, mustard, olive oil, pickles and chutneys in a cupboard away from sunlight, even if the label advises refrigerating after opening, according to Which?.
“Storing it in the right place keeps your food fresher for longer – and it saves you money,” says Helen White, an adviser at Love Food Hate Waste. “If you’re keeping bread in the fridge, it will go stale quicker; it needs to be in the cupboard or a bread bin. If you keep your apples in the fruit bowl, they will go wrinkly quicker. Store apples in the fridge – you’ll be amazed at how long they last.”
The broad message seems to be that keeping things in the fridge can keep them better for longer and therefore cause less food waste. Pesto, mayonnaise, avocados, butter and dips will last longer in a fridge than they might in a cupboard. But when it comes to honey, bread, pastries, grains, nuts, cake and bagels, a cool, dark cupboard with well-sealed containers is fine.
Nell Frizzell is a freelance journalist for the Guardian, Vice, Buzzfeed, the Independent, Vogue, i-D and Time Out