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How Long Should You Keep Condiments?

Those sauces and jams in your fridge won't last forever
How Long Do Condiments Last?
Photo: Tasting Table

We're all guilty of storing condiments in the fridge or pantry only to completely forget about them until months later. Expiration dates are usually solid guidelines for when to throw something out, but even once open, the quality of a product can start to decline. It's also important to keep in mind that anything homemade will have a shorter shelf life than a product purchased at the store.

Below we've put together a guide based on studies and brand recommendations for knowing when to pull the plug. In the end, use your best judgment: If something doesn't smell or look right to you, toss it and open a new bottle.

① Ketchup

While an unopened bottle of ketchup can last up to one to two years when stored in a cool, dark place, an open bottle is probably good for only six months in the fridge before it should be tossed.

② Mustard

According to French's, an unopened glass jar of mustard lasts for two years, and a squeeze bottle for 18 months. Once it's been opened, it's probably good for about a year when stored in the refrigerator. Although mustard does not require refrigeration, it will definitely extend the shelf life.

③ Mayonnaise

Since most mayonnaise is made with eggs or some type of egg substitute, it's essential that you refrigerate it after it's been made or after a jar has been opened. To ensure the best taste, it's recommended that homemade mayonnaise be kept for only one to two weeks and store-bought only two months after being opened. As Hellmann's points out, the use-by date on the bottle is always a good reference.

④ Hot Sauce

If you like spicy food, then you probably have a collection of hot sauces in your pantry. Open bottles of hot sauce kept in a cool, dry place can usually last a couple of years; however, some brands, like Cholula, recommend consuming them within the first six months of opening. There's also some debate over whether or not to refrigerate Sriracha, so we asked our fans and 57 percent so far said it should be refrigerated. While the jury's still out, make sure to give your bottle a good sniff if it's collecting dust in your kitchen.

⑤ Barbecue Sauce

Whether it's store-bought or homemade, you're likely to have a few barbecue sauces left over after grilling season wraps up. Homemade barbecue sauce will not last as long as what you find in the bottle, and the store-bought stuff is usually good for five months or so after it has been opened. 

⑥ Jelly & Jam

Lucky for you and your morning scone, an opened jar of jelly or jam is usually good for about a year when stored properly in the fridge. Smucker's points out on its website that its fruit spreads are good for up to 24 months from the date of production and recommend they are used within one year of being purchased.

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