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May 18, 2009 11:01 AM

What condiments can I keep at room temp for several days prior to moving?

We're moving out of our house prior to it being rented but will probably stay in the area for a number of days to take care of some business. We'll be staying with a friend and I'm sure among several people I can find room for any frozen items. But I have, as any proud CH does, way too many condiments. I keep almost all of them in the fridge as I actually have more room there than elsewhere. I'm sure not all of them need to be there. I'd appreciate any advice of what does or does not need to be refrigerated. And I imagine something that has already been open may have different requirements than unopened. I'm talking hot sauces, ketchup, mustard, horseradish, etc. Also opened jars of capers, sundried tomatoes, Kalamata olives. The things that need to be kept chilled that won't fit in our friends places, I suppose we can use a large cooler and just keep replacing the ice. It's also going to possibly be in the 90s (ugh) a little of that time. I'm guessing you're going to say keep it all chilled which is fine but figured I'd try to cheat where I can. Thanks in advance.

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  1. Most condiments do not need refrigeration. The oils, salts and vinegars in them are preservative enough to withstand a chunk of time out of the refrigerator. The refrigerator just makes them last longer. I'd use anything on your list without hesitation although I'd probably ensure that the olives were covered in oil.

    There will be other pointing to the label "Refrigerate After Opening" but to me that's just about the same as "Use Before Date" - CYA.

    1 Reply
    1. re: alwayscooking

      I agree. All of those should be fine for a few days. People in other countries where they don't have massive refrigerators would be astonished to know what we consider mandatory to keep in a fridge.

    2. Mayo is about the only "condiment" that I would say absolutely has to be kept refrigerated. All the other things you list should be fine for a couple days; even if previously opened. Provided they aren't *left* opened on the counter for longer than necessary to make a sandwich or whatever. Anything pickled or in any kind of oil or vinegar especially does not need to be refrigerated. Honey definately not.

      3 Replies
      1. re: KiltedCook

        Right. Honey never goes into the fridge -- you think beehives come equipped with Subzeros? Olives are an ancient preserved food and there's no reason to keep them in the fridge -- just think of all those olive bars where they're sitting out at room temp all the time. Vinegar never goes in the fridge. Oil only goes in the fridge if it's a very expensive specialty oil I use in small amounts that might not get used up before it gets rancid. I tend to keep stuff in the fridge that really doesn't need to be there, because, well, what else do you put on those shelves in the door? But I'll take them out if I need the space for something else. Right now there's a bottle of salad dressing on my desk and some sriracha in a container in the drawer -- I'm not worried about either of them.

        1. re: KiltedCook

          I'm not even so sure about mayo. Most commercial mayo has sufficient preservatives that it should be ok. Although your question takes me back to the jar of mayo that someone left out on the counter right after I had my first baby. In my hormonal insanity, I was ballistic that anyone would do something that could kill us all.

          Most jellies and jams should also be ok for a couple of days, also.

          The 90s is a bit warm, so that cooler might come in handy for anything you're concerned about.

          1. re: KiltedCook

            Commercial mayonnaise will be fine without refrigeration for a couple of days. The notion that mayo spoils or goes bad when left out too long is from the days before commercial mayo.

            Mustards will be fine, as will ketchup. Jams and Jellies if opened, should be kept in a cool place, but a couple of days out of the fridge won't hurt them. Capers will be fine. Olives will be fine. If the sundried tomatoes are in oil, I'd try to keep them cool. Hot sauces will be fine (I refrigerate open jars of salsa, but never put sriracha, tobasco, etc. in the fridge). Horseradish will be fine.

          2. With the expecption of ketchup (I've had some of the bad stuff left out on resto tables), ditto to everyone else's input unless they are going to be stored in the trunk of your car or some closed up, unairconditioned storage facility. Once opened, I would not want to expose them to any unnecessary heat and then use them.

            2 Replies
            1. re: CocoaNut

              I have never refrigerated ketchup - having seen it left out in restaurants I just assumed that with all the acid it was okay. So I was very surprised when after decades I noticed the RAO caution on the label; but by then I ignored it. Perhaps the bad stuff you had in a restaurant (never heard that from anyone before) had been contaminated by fingers or a utensil that had been in other food or someone's mouth.

              c.oliver, I suggest you nearly fill plastic jugs and soda bottles with water and freeze till solid. This may take several days. But likewise, they take a very long time to thaw. Much easier than continually replacing faster-melting ice. You can keep 2-3 bottles/jugs in rotation: when one is partially thawed, refreeze, replacing it with one from the freezer. Also, no water accumulates in the bottom of the cooler this way. It's a good idea to keep a jug 64 oz or larger, in your freezer all the time, (but especially if you're away traveling) as insurance in the event of a power failure. Also a glass jar tightly sealed with an ice cube inside. If you return from a trip you'll be able to tell from the jar whether things melted and refroze.

              1. re: greygarious

                Now aren't you the clever one, greygarious! Great ideas. And I hope you've been having a nice day :)

            2. Thanks to all. Hopefuly the temps will go down by the weekend. I also have a couple of galvanized wash tubs from my horsey days and I'm thinking I could put some ice in one of those just for the chilling effect.

              2 Replies
              1. re: c oliver

                When I was growing up (born in 1965), we never, and I mean never, refrigerated mayo. Now I don't know what happens once it has been refrigerated and then you take it out for a prolonged period.

                1. re: roro1831

                  Oh you child! (Born in '47) I don't have a problem with keeping some things chilled and would do mayo simply because the thought of warm mayo is so unappealing :) I think what's happened people have gotten extremely cautious about many things. There have been many discussions about mayo and I'm not starting one. It WILL be kept cool, children :)

              2. Just think about what you have seen left out on the table at restaurants. Ketchup, Mustard, Hot Sauces, Relish, and yes, even Mayo. If you look, nowhere on the packaging does mayonnaise say "refrigerate after opening" If you have a cooler, fine - you wont have to keep things super chilled. I admit the idea of 90 degree mayo is not especially appetizing on a sandwich.