Foods You Should Keep in a Refrigerator: Eggs, meats, salad dressing, and dairy foods like milk are a given– you’re very much aware that these food items go straight in the fridge the moment you get home from the grocery store. However, what about those other sundry items, such as cooking oils, peanut butter, and ketchup?
There might be some food items in your pantry that are quietly growing mold and bacteria right now because you failed to refrigerate them. So, what are the surprising food items that should be refrigerated? Read on to find out!
1. Whole Wheat Flour
You probably grew up believing that flour should be stored in the pantry, and not inside the fridge. Well, if we’re talking about whole-wheat flour, this would be a different story, and storing this type of flour in your pantry is probably a bad idea. The wheat-germ present in whole-wheat flour can go rancid in just a matter of hours. That’s why, it’s required to store whole-wheat flour in the refrigerator or freezer after opening it, to prolong its shelf-life.
Note: Unlike other types of flour, whole-wheat flour usually pick up flavors, that’s why you should store it in an air-tight container or plastic bag, and avoid placing it next to a food item with a very strong odor, such as onions and garlic.
Butter should be refrigerated if you want it to last for several weeks. Furthermore, in an agreement with FDA and USDA guidelines, most companies imply that the butter they produce should be refrigerated. Though, perhaps, you’re wondering why it’s even needed, considering that butter is mostly fat, making it less attractive to bacterial growth. You should keep in mind that most butter is also made from pasteurized milk, making it highly vulnerable to bacterial growth.
Salted and unsalted butter are also different. Aside from the taste, the salt in salted butter makes it less susceptible to bacterial growth, and this is usually the type of butter that can be left out on the kitchen counter. Even so, after a week or so, it will also go rancid. Thus, it’s safe to just store your butter inside the fridge and just take it out a few minutes before use.
3. Baked Goods with Cream or Custard Fillings
Do you love those custard-filled cream puffs and doughnuts? Do you have a habit of leaving them out on the counter for a day or two? Well, you should stop doing that, because custard should be refrigerated right away.
The dairy content of custard makes it a potential breeding ground for bacteria, turning it rancid in just a matter of hours.
4. Mustard and Ketchup
Although you don’t really have to store the bottles of mustard and ketchup inside the fridge, it’s still a good idea to do so, especially if you want these condiments to last for quite some time– French people also agree with this.
Both mustard and ketchup have a high acid content, and that’s why they could be left out in the pantry for a month or so. However, after that, their texture, appearance, and taste will begin to break down and deteriorate, especially in areas where the temperature is really hot.
On the other hand, an opened bottle of ketchup could last for as long as 6 months if it’s properly stored inside the fridge, while mustard for 12 months. Not just that, both are still consumable even after their expiration date, as long as they’re continuously refrigerated.
5. Maple Syrup
Try to imagine this: you’re looking forward to a delicious plate of freshly made pancakes and begin to pour maple syrup over them just to be welcomed by an odd-looking black lump coming out of the squeeze bottle! No doubt, this will definitely ruin your appetite as you don’t even know what’s growing inside the bottle.
This happens a lot, especially to those who don’t store their maple syrup inside the fridge after opening it. Mold can grow in bottles, and this is definitely harmful to the body if consumed.
6. Natural Peanut Butter
Who doesn’t love peanut butter, especially the natural ones? However, considering the fact that natural peanut butter is in its purest form– usually ground-up peanuts with a dash of salt, they have to be refrigerated at once. What’s the reason behind this? Unlike commercial peanut butter, the oils present in natural peanut butter could separate from the solids– something that doesn’t happen with commercialized peanut butter because of the hydrogenated oils.
That being said, if you cannot finish a jar of natural peanut butter within a month or two, or you live in a place where the climate is usually hot, then it’s highly advisable to refrigerate your peanut butter. The oils can go rancid if not kept cool over a certain period of time, and this will definitely affect the taste.
Also, if the label instructs you to refrigerate after opening, then follow the given instructions. Furthermore, if you have noticed that there is some mold growing in your peanut butter, don’t think twice, but throw it right away. If the spreadability is stopping you from refrigerating your peanut butter, know that you can always let it sit out at room temperature hours before using it.
7. Cooking Oil
Unless you’re going to use this right away, it’s best to keep your cooking oils inside the fridge to prevent them from going rancid.
Although cured meats, such as salami are less likely to harbor bacteria than other fresh meats, it doesn’t mean they’re 100% safe at all times. In a 2006 study, it was discovered that Italian salamis left outside were contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes.
Aside from that, they can also get infected by other harmful bacteria, such as E. coli. So, in order to be safe then sorry, always store your cured meats inside the fridge right after purchase.
9. Ripe Bananas
Lastly, although it’s fine to leave ripe bananas over the counter, the problem would be, that the ripening process will continue and they’ll eventually rot.
So, to prevent that from happening, once your bananas are good for eating, put them inside the fridge and they’ll last for a long time. Even though their skin will turn brown, their taste will stay the same.
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