Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Jun 26, 2011 12:50 PM


This is about food, but I couldn't figure out another board to post this on.

We returned home after a 2 week vacation to find that our power had been off for quite some time - exact time unknown, but everything was very very warm, and of course everything in both freezers was mush and thrown away immediately.

I tossed everything in the fridge that contained oil such as a brand new jar of mayo, salad dressings, butter etc. - the usual stuff..

Can I still use items in jars and bottles like pickle relish, vinegars, mustard, soy sauce, unopened canned fruit, ginger in sherry, sesame seeds, catsup, cocktail sauce, jams, syrup and that kind of stuff? They are sitting (off to the side) in the fridge, waiting to be tossed or kept. All of the jars/bottles have been opened.

I am trying to save a big shopping trip and some $$, but I don't want to risk my life (and stomach) to save a few bucks.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Can I still use items in jars and bottles like pickle relish, vinegars, mustard, soy sauce, canned fruit, ginger in sherry, sesame seeds, catsup, cocktail sauce, and that kind of stuff

    Yes, you can still use them. No need to toss.

    In fact, hardly any of those items need refrigeration.

    Canned fruit? Is it opened? If it's never been opened there's no reason to refrigerate it in the first place. If it's been opened, I would toss.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Thanks - no the canned fruit hasn't been opened, I leave a can or two in the fridge, so that it is always cold when I eat it. I never leave anything in opened cans. My mother 'convinced' me as a kid that I would die if I ate anything from an opened can :-)

      The labels on most jarred or bottled items say to refrigerate after opening, so that is why I put these things in the fridge.

      1. re: Canthespam

        Those items say "refrigerate after opening" to ensure freshness, not to prevent spoilage or rancidity.

        I never refrigerate soy sauce, mustards, ketchup, or any type of vinegars. The acidity in those things will prevent spoilage for a long time when left at room temp.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          I have limited cabinet storage space and I guess I tend to put things in the fridge for that reason. I do find that refrigerating vegetable oil and sesame seeds prolongs their lives., and of course I want my food to stay fresh as long as possible.

          If things don't smell, as most of these items don't, how can you tell if they are 'past their prime" during normal storage, fridge or shelf?

          I am starting to feel a little better about the spoilage of these items ... thank you.

          1. re: Canthespam

            Smell them. If they start smelling musty, Then they're not fresh, but not spoiled.

            Of course refrigerating items will prolong shelf-life. But in your case, even a full 2-week hiatus out of a temp-controlled refrigerated environment will not be cause for spoilage.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I was so lucky that I had no perishables - fresh fruit, veggies, milk etc... It was cleaned out for our trip.

    2. After that long, I'd toss everything just to be on the safe side. About the only things on that list that I'd be sure were safe were the vinegar, soy sauce, and jams, because none of them really need refrigerating in the first place.

      Oh, and the oils are probably fine - one sniff will tell you if they've gone rancid.