6 Things You Should Store in the Pantry and 6 Things You Shouldn’t

To refrigerate, or not to refrigerate? That is the question. Find out which foods fare best in the pantry, and which ones last longer in the fridge.

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Soy sauce is poured into a spoon over the saucepan
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Soy Sauce

Most soy sauce bottles will direct you to refrigerate after opening, but soy sauce will keep just fine in the pantry for at least a few months due to its high sodium content. See how long soy sauce (and other condiments) really last.

Verdict: Pantry

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Glass jar with peanut butter, peanut, kitchen towel, spoon and peanut butter sandwich on white wooden background

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter storage is a famously controversial topic, but we’re here to settle it once and for all. Put it in the pantry. An opened jar of processed peanut butter will keep for about 3 months at room temperature. Of course, pantry storage makes for much easier spreading. (Keep in mind that some natural peanut butters are best kept in the fridge to sustain flavor. Use this trick to stir your natural peanut butter.)

Verdict: Pantry

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Ground coffee in a metal spoon on a top of glass jar, shallow depth of field


A small amount of ground coffee that you’ll be using every day should be kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Keep it away from light, heat and moisture, too. But if you have a large amount to store, keep it in the freezer to ensure maximum freshness in your mug. Here are some other coffee storage tips.

Verdict: Pantry (for daily coffee)

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Food products in the kitchen storing ingredients in pantry.

White Flour

Some prefer to freeze their white flour for long-term storage, but keeping it on a pantry shelf will work just fine. White flour doesn’t have much oil, and will last 1 to 2 years in a cool, dry space.

Verdict: Pantry

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Hot chilli sauce in the hands of the buyer at the grocery store
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Hot Sauce

Hot sauce contains high levels of vinegar, which keeps it from spoiling in the pantry or cabinet. Plus, storing hot sauce at room temperature preserves the potency of the peppers. So unless you want your hot sauce bland, stow it in the pantry. Make sure you know the secrets of keeping a well-stocked pantry.

Verdict: Pantry

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Pile of potatoes lying on wooden boards with a potato bag in the background ; Shutterstock ID 347630291
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Most vegetables thrive in the refrigerator, but not potatoes. Potatoes need a cool dark place, like the pantry, to keep their best flavor and texture. The colder temperature in the fridge will actually break down their starch, making them gritty and overly sweet.

Verdict: Pantry

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French fries with ketchup served on parchment paper
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Technically, ketchup will store safely in the pantry for a few weeks, thanks to its high vinegar acid content. However, the fridge is the better choice because your ketchup will have more longevity. It stays fresh for several months in the refrigerator. Check out these crazy facts you didn’t know about ketchup.

Verdict: Refrigerator

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Pouring maple syrup on stack of pancakes
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Maple Syrup

To be preserve flavor and avoid mold, maple syrup should be kept in the fridge once opened. Unopened maple syrup can be kept in the pantry for up to a year, and opened syrup lasts about the same amount of time in the fridge. No one wants cold syrup on their pancakes, so simply heat up a small portion in the microwave before serving. What’s the difference between pure maple syrup and pancake syrup?

Verdict: Refrigerator

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Mustard in the assortment: Dijon mustard and burning Russian mustard in bowls on wooden background


Mustard isn’t refrigerated at the grocery store, so do you have to refrigerate it once you take it home? Yes. Once a bottle of mustard is opened it should go in the fridge, where it will last you several months.

Verdict: Refrigerator

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Organic Brown Rice in the bowl on the wooden table; Shutterstock ID 280020284

Brown Rice

You may be surprised to find out brown rice should be stored in the refrigerator. The whole grain shell can go bad stored at room temperature, so pop it in the fridge to for future use. White rice, on the other hand, can be stored in the pantry for years! Speaking of lasting forever, check out these other long-term staples.

Verdict: Refrigerator

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Glass jars with different kinds of jam and berries on wooden table
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Jellies and Jams

We settled the debate about peanut butter—what about the other half of your PB&J sandwich? For optimal freshness and a longer shelf life, keep jams and jellies in the fridge once they’ve been opened. Jam or jelly will usually keep about six months in the fridge.

Verdict: Refrigerator

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Chocolate ice cream with syrup close up
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Chocolate Syrup

Good for desserts, breakfast waffles and chocolate milk—chocolate syrup is a staple many can’t do without. Once opened though, chocolate syrup should be stashed in the refrigerator. Kept cool, it has a shelf life of about 12 to 18 months—and that’s a lot of chocolate sundaes!

Verdict: Refrigerator

Erica Young
Erica is a cleaning and home décor expert. She knows exactly how to tidy a filthy kitchen and straighten out a mixed-up pantry! When she's not writing you'll find her organizing a closet, buying more bins she doesn't need or bingeing her latest TV show obsession.