Indian meals are incomplete without a condiment or accompaniment on the side. When we enjoy dal chawal, we always like to add a bit of pickle to it. Similarly, we enjoy snacks like pakodas and kebabs with green chutney. Tamarind chutney, meanwhile, is one of our favourite additions to our street-style chaats and recipes. Whenever we make these chutneys and condiments at home, the automatic assumption is that they should be refrigerated. But did you know that not all of these condiments are required to be stored in the fridge?
Do All Condiments Need To Be Refrigerated?
Everyone has their own set of caveats and rules when thinking of what to store in the fridge and what not to. For instance, some people prefer to keep their butter in the fridge while others store it at room temperature. Ideally, foods or products with dairy, vegetables and fruits are best stored in the refrigerator. But condiments that contain vinegar, oil, salt, sugar and even alcohol don't need to be stored in the fridge as they are preserved naturally with these added ingredients. These natural preservatives ensure that these sauces don't go bad even at room temperature.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests, "Always keep meat, poultry, fish, and eggs refrigerated at or below 40 degrees F and frozen food at or below 0 degrees F. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened."
What Condiments Don't Need Refrigeration? 9 Foods You Can Store At Room Temperature
There are many foods that do not require refrigeration. The USDA has shared a list of foods that stay safe for consumption even when stored above 40 degrees Fahrenheit or 4 degrees Celsius. This includes hard cheeses, processed food, opened fruit juices, and bakery products like cakes, cookies and bread. Coming to condiments, the USDA suggested that there are plenty of options that would stay safe for consumption even without refrigeration.
Here Is A Complete List Of 9 Foods And Condiments That Don't Need Refrigeration:
- Mustard Sauce - Mustard is pungent and naturally acidic in nature. Thus, it would not go bad even if you don't store it in the fridge. You can put it away safely in a cool, dry cupboard or else add it to your dining table tray.
- Pickle - The concept of pickling is to preserve vegetables and spices for a longer duration. The extra addition of salt and oil further makes pickles suitable for storing at room temperature.
- Soya Sauce - Soya sauce is one condiment that people often mistakenly store in the fridge. However, this is not required at all as soya sauce can easily last up to two years without being refrigerated too.
- Butter - Although butter is a milk product, the USDA suggests it need not be refrigerated and is safe for consumption even at room temperature. It contains a lot of fat and is less vulnerable to spoilage thanks to the additional salt in it.
- Olive Oil - Keep your olive oil bottle in a cool, dark place and you will see that it lasts as much as it would if you refrigerated it. This is because oil is also unlikely to get spoilt under normal circumstances.
- Jam - Sugar acts as a natural preservative, which is why chances are that jam would not go bad at room temperature too. However, to maintain a longer shelf life, you could refrigerate it too.
- Ketchup - Tomato ketchup is also not required to be stored in the refrigerator since it has plenty of acidic substances in it to keep it from spoiling. Store it in a cupboard or in your dining area without worry.
- Vinegar - Vinegar itself is a pickling and preserving agent that is not prone to bacterial growth. So, you can safely keep it in your cupboard and avoid clutter in your refrigerator door.
- Honey - Sticky and sweet honey is best consumed at room temperature. Storing it in the fridge could actually thicken and crystallise it, causing it to spoil faster vis-a-vis when stored outside.
As a rule of thumb, the more frequently you use a condiment, the safer it is to be stored at room temperature. Always use a clean spoon or spatula while dipping into the jars of your favourite sauces and chutneys and you will see that they automatically get a longer shelf life.
About Aditi AhujaAditi loves talking to and meeting like-minded foodies (especially the kind who like veg momos). Plus points if you get her bad jokes and sitcom references, or if you recommend a new place to eat at.