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May 17, 2008 06:56 AM

Shelf Life of Refrigerated Products?

I was reading Everyday Food and came upon a short piece about the recommended shelf life of opened refrigerated products. Here's what it said:

Ketchup and Barbecue Sauce - good for up to 4 months
Salsa - good for up to 1 month
Mustard - good for up to a year
Jam/Jelly - good for up to 6 months
Maple Syrup - good for up a a year
Pickles - good for up to 2 months
Mayonnaise - good for up to 2 months

I go through considerable amounts of mustard, so that's not a problem. But, I rarely use the ketchup, jam, syrup, or mayonnaise - they are in the refrigerator mostly for the rare instances they are needed in a recipe. I do discard products when they've past their expiration dates - but some of the items above don't have expiration dates (ketchup, salsa, syrup)

Do you follow these guidelines?

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  1. I probably follow the guidelines due to use for all the items above except for these two:

    Pickles - good for up to 2 months
    Mayonnaise - good for up to 2 months

    How do pickles only have a shelf life of 2 months?

    1. It depends on whether you care about taste or safety, IMHO. Some things lose flavor over time but aren't a danger to the eater. We keep items in the refridgerator well past their expiration dates (and past the dates listed above) and never have a complaint. I toss things only when they are no good - the salsa molds, the pickles get mushy, etc.

      1. Thank you for posting this. It is very useful information. As a single woman, I usually only have condiments in my fridge, and I never know how long I can keep them after they have been used. I just tossed a 3/4 full bottle of ketchup because I think it dates from last year. I figure with summer and bbq season approaching, it is time to spring for a new bottle. I buy small bottles of mayo, unless I need it for a recipe, so mayo is not a problem. But I've always wondered if I should toss jam and bbq sauce after a couple of weeks, and it is good to know that they will last months.

        1. I safely eat everything in my fridge no matter the expiry date: unless it obviously smells off or dab on the tongue feels wrong in terms of flavour/texture. In the case of mold I scrape it off and apply the smell and taste tests. Never in all my years have I got sick from food in my fridge (or pantry). I trust my senses to warn me and so keep them tuned.

          1. Mayo for only two months, not true. Mayo and most other condiments have a "use by" date on them. This means "use by" weather the product is open or unopened. This differs from "sell by" dates. Once opened, the sell by date is no longer valid. And 1 month for salsa seems a bit extreme in the other direction. Personally, I wouldn't eat opened salsa a month later. Maybe 5-6 days max.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ranger05

              I guess with salsa, you need to distinguish between fresh and preserved (like Pace or Ortega)...the fresh stuff that comes in the plastic tub will definitely not last a month...but in my experience, Pace will last almost forever...