The Crucial Reason You Need To Keep Chili Crisp In The Refrigerator

Chili crisp. It's the bit of oomph you look for in a piping hot serving of congee, the spicy contrast you want in a cold bowl of sweet peanut noodles, and the unexpected — but totally appreciated — textural topping on your nightly helping of ice cream. Whether you opt for trendier chili crisp brands like Fly By Jing or Momofuku, more unique ones such as Barnacle Foods' Kelp Chili Crisp, or a classic container of Laoganma, chili crisp is one of those condiments you'll be reaching for on the daily to add texture, spice, and umami flavor dimension to even the simplest of meals. But no matter if you paid $4 or $20 for it, you're going to want to keep it in the fridge.

When it comes to storing your chili crisp, there are as many different directions as there are brands. However, James Park, food writer and the author of "Chili Crisp" — a cookbook devoted entirely to the Chinese condiment — told Epicurious that it doesn't matter what the labels say: "I always keep my chili crisp in the fridge because I think that locks the flavors and keeps the consistency longer." Studies, like the one published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology in 2016, show that spicy foods preserve impressively well. But Park goes on to explain that even though chili crisp rarely, if ever, goes bad, your refrigerator is where it should go if you want to preserve all of its flavor integrity. 

Taking precautions

Given that, at its heart, chili crisp is always made with a high concentration of spices, and that the majority of brands utilize dried or ground ingredients, you don't typically have to worry about it going bad. But that doesn't mean you should completely neglect it. The fridge is the ideal place to store your chili crisp because it will preserve all of its complex flavors to their fullest — and that's especially true on the off chance that your mixture contains any fresh ingredients. You can go the extra mile by making sure that, whenever you scoop into it, you're always using a dry, clean spoon. Then, when you're done with your chili crisp and placing it back into your fridge where it belongs, take extra care to ensure that you've tightly closed the lid. 

If you follow these three simple steps every time you use your chili crisp, you'll be sure to get the most out of it for as long as possible. Clean, dry spoons will ensure that no moisture or bacteria-growing ingredients get into the jar, preventing potential contamination, and sealing the container tightly will keep air out, reducing flavor degradation over time. Both go hand in hand with keeping your chili crisp in the fridge to ensure that it will not only be safe to eat, but its flavors will always be top-notch — providing that extra umami oomph to everything from your ramen to your fried eggs.