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31 foods that should always be kept in the fridge

If any of these items are in your pantry, it's time to move them to the fridge. Even if they haven't killed you yet! We'll explain why.

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Taylor Martin
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1 of 34 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Chances are, you probably refrigerate some things you shouldn't. Likewise, there are probably some things sitting on your kitchen counter in your cabinets or pantry, or even in your medicine cabinet, that should be refrigerated.

Forget what your parents told you, and put these things in your refrigerator.

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Try keeping these foods in the fridge

Some things are just better if you keep them in the refrigerator.

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Mustard and horseradish

There are no ingredients in mustard that will spoil, but Dijon and horseradish mustards will "lose their distinct flavors if not refrigerated," according to French's.

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Ketchup

Ketchup doesn't technically need to be stored in the refrigerator. But if you go through ketchup fairly slowly (specifically, slower than monthly) you should keep it in the fridge to inhibit bacterial growth.

Organic ketchup and varieties made without preservatives should always be kept in the fridge.

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Chocolate syrup

It's safe to store chocolate syrup in the pantry for two to three years. After it's opened, however, move the chocolate syrup to the refrigerator, where it should remain safe to consume for up to six months. Visible mold or separation or a rancid smell are all indicators of chocolate syrup that has spoiled.

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Pure maple syrup

Believe it or not, pure maple syrup (the good stuff) can and will spoil. It has no preservatives in it, so when stored at room temperature, it can develop mold on the surface. For long-term storage, it's best to put it in the refrigerator after it's been opened.

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Soy sauce

Like most condiments, soy sauce can be left unrefrigerated. Even though the bottle recommends refrigerating, it won't spoil at room temperature, thanks to its high sodium content.

That said, if soy sauce is left out of the refrigerator, it will begin to lose its freshness and its flavor will change. If you don't plan on using the entire bottle of soy sauce within one or two months, it's best to keep it in the refrigerator.

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Avocados

Storing your avocados in the refrigerator will keep them from ripening, which can be quite useful. Leave them on the counter until ripe, and if you don't eat them right away, place them in the refrigerator to keep them from over-ripening.

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Corn on the cob

Corn on the cob will begin to lose its sweetness shortly after it's harvested. To capture as much of the sweet flavor fresh corn is loved for, it's best to store it in the refrigerator to slow the chemical process that destroys the flavor.

The best method of storing corn in the refrigerator is to leave it uncovered at 40 Fahrenheit (4.44 Celsius), where it should keep for five to seven days.

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Ripe bananas

Don't store unripe bananas in the refrigerator, as it will disrupt the ripening process, which may not resume even if you remove them from the refrigerator later. However, if you place a ripe banana in the refrigerator, it will keep it from over-ripening. The peel will turn a dark brown, but it will still taste like a perfectly ripe banana.

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Nut flours and whole wheat flours

Whole wheat flour should be stored in the refrigerator after opening, as the wheat germ will spoil and go rancid far faster than other types of flour. Same goes for ground nuts, like almond or cashew flour.

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Lemons, oranges and limes

While it's not completely necessary, oranges, lemons and limes will keep for up to four times longer if stored in the refrigerator.

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Butter

Some people leave butter out of the refrigerator to make it easier to spread. It should keep for one to two weeks at room temperature, so it's best to only leave a small amount out at a time while storing the rest in the refrigerator.

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Some cooking oils

Some cooking oils need to be kept cool in the refrigerator while others do not. Olive oil, for instance, will keep for quite a while between 50 degrees F and 70 degrees F (10 degrees C and 21 degrees C). It will last even longer in the refrigerator, but it will also become thick and cloudy until you remove it from the cold. If you buy in bulk, consider using a smaller container to keep on hand while storing the larger bottle in the fridge.

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Organic nut butters

Unprocessed, natural peanut butter (like other nut butters) should be kept in the refrigerator if it isn't going to be consumed in a matter of a few weeks. At room temperature, the oils will separate and can become rancid, and the peanut butter will spoil far more quickly than if you store it in the refrigerator. However, refrigeration will also make the peanut butter hard and difficult to spread, so remove the jar roughly an hour before you plan to use it, if possible.

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Soy and nut milks

Many soy, almond and other nut milks do not need to be refrigerated prior to opening. While still sealed, they're shelf-stable and can be stored at room temperature in the pantry until the expiration date on the carton.

However, after being opened, soy and nut milks should be refrigerated and consumed within a week.

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Nuts and nut oils

Likewise, nuts and nut oils that aren't going to be consumed in a few months should be stored in the refrigerator. Nuts can keep for up to four months at room temperature, up to a year in the refrigerator and even longer in the freezer, since they have very little water content.

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Grapes

Grapes should be refrigerated quickly after you get them home, to extend their shelf life.

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Dried fruits

With much lower water content than regular fruit, dried fruit can last for several months in the pantry. However, if you plan to keep dried fruit for longer than a few months, place it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh for even longer.

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Fruit spreads

Some people don't refrigerate jellies or jam at all, but most labels recommend refrigerating after opening. A jar left out for a day or two should be safe to eat. Smucker's, for example, recommends not eating a fruit spread if it has been without refrigeration for more than 48 hours.

If there is visible mold, it's not safe and should be discarded.

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Aloe vera

Fresh aloe vera needs to be stored in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. However, most of the store-bought gels do not require refrigeration. Still, it's a good idea to keep all aloe in the fridge, especially in the summer, as chilled aloe feels great on sunburns.

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Eggs (primarily US)

Eggs are fickle. Here in the US, you should always refrigerate your eggs, as they undergo a washing process to reduce the chances of salmonella contamination. This process washes away the cuticle, which helps keep chemicals and bacteria out of the egg. This is why refrigeration is necessary.
In most other parts of the world, this washing process is skipped because it can actually transfer salmonella and other bacteria from the outside to the inside of the egg if not done properly. Skipping the wash means that refrigerating eggs is not necessary, which is why you won't typically find eggs in refrigerated dairy section of a grocery store outside the US.

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Most cheese

Hard cheeses like cheddar, American or Parmesan can be safely stored at room temperature. However, unaged or soft cheeses (mozzarella, ricotta, brie, etc.) should be stored in the refrigerator until ready for consumption.

All cheeses will last longer if kept refrigerated.

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Hardy herbs

Some herbs, such as basil, can thrive outside the refrigerator. However, most other herbs should be refrigerated.

According to Serious Eats, hardy herbs -- like rosemary or thyme -- should be washed, arranged on a damp paper towel, rolled up, wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator.

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Tender herbs

Likewise, tender herbs (cilantro, dill or parsley) should be washed, stored in a sealed mason jar with approximately 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) of water and kept in the refrigerator. This will ensure they last as long as possible.

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Tortillas

Tortillas aren't something you would think need to be refrigerated. However, a quick check of the label will reveal that many tortillas come with instructions to refrigerate after opening.

At room temperature, tortillas will remain fresh for approximately a week. If refrigerated, you can extend their shelf life by a factor of four.

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Cured meats

Let's be honest. Most bags of beef jerky or packages of cured meat don't last long enough to require refrigeration. However, it is recommended that you consume all of the cured meat within a few days to a week after opening the package. Otherwise, you should refrigerate the cured meat to prolong its freshness.

After opened, different cured meats will remain fresh for varying lengths of time based on the manufacturer, the type of preparation and preservation and how they are stored.

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Fruit pies

Not all pies are created equal, and not all pies need to be refrigerated.

Fruit pies, for instance, can keep at room temperature for a couple days. After that, if there's any left, you should store it in the refrigerator for a few more days.

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boston cream pie

On the other hand, cream pies or those with egg in the filling -- such as pecan or pumpkin pie-- should always be refrigerated until ready to be served and eaten. They should keep in the refrigerator for four to five days.

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Some medicines

Some medications require refrigeration. Namely, insulin should be kept in the refrigerator, as it loses its effectiveness when exposed to extreme temperatures. Other commonly refrigerated medications are penicillin, aspirin and amoxicillin.

Some people also opt to refrigerate eye drops, but it's not necessary. Chilling eye drops provides a cool effect and can make it easier to tell when the drop hits your eye.

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Opened wine

Opened red wine should be recorked and kept in the refrigerator. This will slow the oxidation process down and keep it from turning into vinegar. The wine should stay fresh for about five days, and it should be removed and brought to approximately 65 degrees F (18.3 degrees C) before serving.

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Champagne

Some people will tell you that champagne should not be stored for prolonged periods in the refrigerator. Science says they're wrong.

Over time, champagne develops a browning compound called 5-HMF. A study performed by Barcelona University discovered that after storing a bottle of champagne at room temperature, in a cellar just below room temperature and in a refrigerator for two years, the refrigerated champagne was almost completely without browning.

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Cream Liqueur

Due to the dairy content, some cream liqueurs are prone to spoiling. Unopened and stored at room temperature, many cream liqueurs have a shelf life of around two years. After opening, even in the refrigerator, they should be consumed within six months.

The exception is Bailey's: The maker guarantees its freshness for two years from the day it was made, opened or unopened, stored in the fridge or not, so long as it is kept away from direct sunlight and between 32 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit (0 and 20 Celsius).

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20 foods you don't have to refrigerate

You might be refrigerating items better stored in the pantry. Here are 20 things you don't actually have to keep in the fridge.

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