15 Foods You Should Never Keep in Your Pantry

By | January 16, 2020
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Are you the type of person who throws anything that’s not dairy or fresh veggies in the pantry? You should really read this.

Tomato sauce

Tomato sauce with garlic and parsley in a wooden bowl, top view.Tatiana Bralnina/Shutterstock

Your pantry may be stocked with tomato sauce you bought the last time there was a sale, but it always should go in the fridge after you open it. “In the old days, a lot of us used to keep tomato sauce in the pantry,” Lydia Buchtmann, spokeswoman for the Food Safety Information Council, told HuffPost Australia, “but since then these products have gotten a lot healthier, so they’ve got less unhealthy preservatives in them like salt.” Here are 15 more food storage guidelines you didn’t know.

Dijon mustard

Fresh homemade organic mustard in bowl on wooden background top viewAleksandrova Karina/Shutterstock

Although your favorite hot dog condiment won’t spoil if it’s kept in the pantry, keeping it in the fridge removes any risk of your Dijon losing the flavor you love. Plus, it’ll last longer if it’s refrigerated.


top view of bananas in shopping paper bagLightField Studios/Shutterstock

Surprised? You may be used to keeping your bananas in prime pantry real estate, but if you keep them there, they just keep ripening. When they’re ready to eat, put them in the fridge, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says. If the peels turn brown, they’ll still be good to eat. Food storage is one of the factors as to why professional chefs never order these foods at restaurants.


Salami, sliced ham, sausage, prosciutto, bacon. Meat antipasto platter on stone table. Top view with copy spaceBukhta Yurii/Shutterstock

You already know to keep raw meat like chicken and beef in the fridge (or the freezer if you’re not using it right away), and the same applies for cured meat like salami. In a 2006 study, researchers found that 23 percent of the tested 1,020 dry Italian salami contained the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. This is exactly how long every kind of meat lasts in the fridge.

Pure maple syrup

Pouring Maple Syrup over a Spoonpick/Shutterstock

If you love syrup, why would you eat anything other than the 100 percent pure maple stuff? However, unlike syrup that’s only maple-flavored, this pure kind must be kept in the refrigerator to prevent mold. Store it in the freezer (don’t worry, it won’t freeze solid), and it’ll keep indefinitely.

Chocolate syrup

Belgium wafers with strawberries, chocolate and syrup on a plate. Flat lay. Top viewTimolina/Shutterstock

Maple isn’t the only kind of decadent topping that needs to be kept in the fridge. Left in the pantry, the flavor of your chocolate syrup will go bad. One notable exception is Nesquik syrup; because it doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup, refrigerating it will make it crystalized. The pantry isn’t the only place you’re mistakenly storing foods. Here’s what foods you should never keep in your freezer.

Corn on the cob

Fresh corn cob and green leaves with basil on dark backgroung, top view AnnaMusiienko/Shutterstock

Either cook up this summertime staple right away, or toss it in the fridge. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an ear of corn can lose 50 percent of its sugar if left at room temperature. If you opt to refrigerate, eat it within two days for the best taste. Don’t miss these 26 storage tips to make your food last longer.

Whole-grain flour

Whole grain flour with wheat grains on dark gray backgroundSfairos/Shutterstock

Any variety of whole-grain flour is healthier than your average all-purpose white flour. That’s because these flours contain some or all of the bran and germ from the original wheat, meaning they use the whole grain. (Get it?) However, the oils in the bran and germ can spoil quickly. Storing whole-grain flour in the freezer significantly slows down the spoiling process, The Kitchn reports, and increases their shelf life.

Unsalted butter

Plate with tasty fresh butter and knife on table, top viewNew Africa/Shutterstock

You may be one of the thousands of Americans who leaves their butter on the counter (or in the pantry) so it gets soft and spreads easily. While this hack is technically safe, health experts told TODAY that only salted butter should be left out of the fridge, since the salt can keep bacteria away. Additionally, you should store it in an airtight container and only leave it out for two weeks, max. Knowing where to store food is only half the battle. You still need to check it before you dig in. Here’s the one place you’re forgetting to check your bread for mold.

Jam and jelly

Raspberry jam jelly in jar. Top view.Jiri Hera/Shutterstock

Some people prefer room temperature jams and jellies, but at the end of the day, wouldn’t you rather eat something that couldn’t potentially make you sick? Almost all jellies and jams say, “Refrigerate after opening” on the jar, so just follow the instructions. The Smucker’s website says that any opened fruit spreads left unrefrigerated for 48 hours should not be used. More food storage advice: here’s why you should never wrap your leftovers in foil.

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