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How to Store Oils, Vinegars, and Condiments

Condiments can hang around long past their expiration date. Keep these guidelines* in mind while cleaning out your fridge and pantry.

By Elizabeth Passarella
Mason jar of honeyJamie Chung   

Unopened, most of these items can be kept in their original packaging in the pantry at room temperature for at least 1 year. (Exceptions are noted below.) Once open, they should be stored in the refrigerator. However, some staples, like olive and vegetable oils, vinegar, and hot sauce, can stay at room temperature (see details below). Keep oil infused with raw garlic or fresh herbs in the refrigerator for up to 1 week; left at room temperature, garlic in oil can develop Clostridium botulinum, a dangerous toxin.

Barbecue sauce
Pantry: 1 year (unopened)
Refrigerator: 4 months (open)

Cocktail sauce
Pantry: 1 year (unopened)
Refrigerator: 6 months (open)

Dips, dairy and nondairy
Refrigerator: 1 week (unopened); 1 week (nondairy; open); 5 days (dairy; open)

Pantry: 1 year (unopened and open)

Pantry: 1 year (unopened)
Refrigerator: 4 months (open)

Hot sauce
Pantry: 3 years

Jams and jellies, store-bought and homemade
Pantry: 1 year (unopened)
Refrigerator: 6 months (open)

Pantry: 1 year (unopened)
Refrigerator: 6 months (open)

Maple syrup, pure and artificial
Pantry: 1 year (unopened)
Refrigerator: 1 year (open)

Pantry: 1 year (unopened)
Refrigerator: 6 months (open)

*Real Simple consulted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), food scientists, food manufacturers, and a host of other experts—including fishmongers, cheese sellers, coffee roasters, bakers, and bartenders—to establish these storage guidelines. The first consideration was safety. But because you want your food to be delicious, too, for some products, Real Simple chose the conservative storage time for optimum freshness.

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