HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

Discussion

Items that last for weeks Or months in the fridge?

As the weather turns cold, I am interested in what foods (NOT recipes, NOT spreads or condiments) last for months in the fridge.

For example:
-apples
-potatoes
-onions

What other foods or items last multiple weeks (even months, if that is possible) through the winter?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Don't store potatoes in the frige. It changes the flavor and they'll shrivel/rot faster. Potatoes are best stored in a dark cool cabinet.

    1 Reply
    1. re: weezieduzzit

      According to the eminent Harold McGee, the temperature threshold is 47F: below that, potato starch increasingly converts to sugar, and potatoes stored in such conditions should not be fried, et cet., as they will scorch.

      IIRC, if you give potatoes a couple of days at room temperature after refrigeration, the conversion process can be somewhat reversed.

    2. Winter squashes (butternut, acorn), turnips & rutabagas, leeks. Also, smoked meats (turkey or pork parts) and some cheeses (I have 1/3 of a whole stick of smoked gouda from last year, wrapped well and in the coldest part of the fridge) that has yet to see mold or have it's flavor change.

      I second keeping potatoes in the fridge, especially red potatoes. Some people swear by not keeping them in the fridge; I have never had a problem with them in the bottom crisper.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Cherylptw

        I kept ours in the fridge for years b/c there was no where in the house to store them without them going rotten in about 3 weeks. And I couldn't get through a 5lb bag fast enough. The smell of rotten potatoes is just brutal so in the fridge they went.

        Now in our new house we have a dedicated cold storage area. It's worked out well so far although last night I did notice the potatoes starting to sprout. And I haven't seen that in yrs (since we always kept them in the fridge). I heard throwing an apple in there should help. I hope so or back in the fridge they go. I just can't eat potatoes that often to keep up with them turning.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            5lb is the smallest I can find. Not to mention our favorites ones, I can only find at a grocery store in our old neighbourhood. I was trying to stock up on them and now that they are starting to strout that may be backfiring on me. Hmmm. I threw an apple in their yesterday. Have to wait and it's unusally warm this winter so the cold store area isnt' as cold as I'd like.

            1. re: livetocook

              There are only two of us. I buy individual potatoes. It is more economical than having 1/2 a 5 lb bag go bad. I don't refrigerate potatoes.

              1. re: livetocook

                Can't you select and buy loose potatoes?

                1. re: mcf

                  I can and may do it but, the wee one likes this brand the best. It's bizarre. She'll eat other potatoes but she wolfs these ones down like they are going outta style. And funny enoug, I find they taste way better then so many others I've bought so I kind of don't mind it.

                  Makes me a little proud that she has that discernible of a palate to know which potatoes are the yummiest (although this is also a frustration for any parent when they just want their kid to eat what's in front of them too. A potato is a potato for peeks sake. ;o))

                  1. re: livetocook

                    Well, please share what variety they are! And lucky you to have more than reds or whites to choose from. (I actually have reds, whites and yellows to choose from.)

                    1. re: sueatmo

                      Well, I'm in Canada so this probably won't help if you are american or even from eastern canada (they don't necessarily get the same as us in the west). The brand is Adora and it's from Manitoba. Don't really know what type they are but, they are yellow. I could probably get almost any kind here in our city if I look hard enough, especially at the Farmer's market where I've even seen the blue/purplely ones (??)

                2. re: livetocook

                  oh, dear! am sorry, lol. had read that as a 50 pound bag! sorry!

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    meh, whateves. It made me think, "why DON'T I just buy less?" Kind of something new to me right now is wasting less. So I'm thinking about everything in my house and seeing those potatoes sprouting really ticked me off.

                    Found the Adora website. Still doesn't say what type of potato it is. Ooh but they tout them as "gourmet" lol

                    http://www.adorapotatoes.com/west/ind...

                    1. re: livetocook

                      The description makes them sound a bit like Yukon golds.

          2. Cryovac ham. Or any meat that is cryovaced, look at the sell by date.

            Cream cheese, and other factory wrapped cheesed, ditto.

            Or are you just talking about produce?

            1. Are you talking about storage so that the food remains safe to eat, or remains good (or tasty) to eat?

              Like a head of broccoli can last in the fridge for a month and remain safe to eat, but whether it is still good to eat -- that I'm not so sure about.

              13 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                i moved last year and my new fridge seems to have magical keeping capacities. even iceberg lasts a month and is still just fine. i realize this is not the norm.

                cheese, eggs and yogurt have always been long keepers for me in all cases.

                i do not store onions or potatoes in the fridge.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  What is the make and model of this magical fridge?

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  Hi, I am talking about storage so that the food remains safe to eat.. semi-joking, I put hotsauce on a lot of items, so it's not like I am really going to notice if it is EXTREMELY tasty.

                  1. re: GraceW

                    If that's the case, it might be easier to ask for items that will NOT last in the fridge.

                    Let me give you an example.

                    I once had a supermarket rotisserie chicken in my fridge for nearly a year (probably around 10-12 months). Popped it open, and while it was a bit dry, it was not moldy and still clearly edible. Let's put it this way, it was extremely tasty if you considered it "chicken jerky".

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Well the rationale behind the question is.. I essentially live out of my freezer for different protein options and shop multiple times a week for fresh produce (besides canned goods in a pinch), but as the weather turns colder, I feel the need to Not constantly shop for produce... so I am trying to find more options that keep for longer.

                      1. re: GraceW

                        Apples, oranges and bananas last almost forever in the fridge.

                        Things with a soft, or edible, skin like grapes, berries, etc., can easily go up to 2 weeks, if not more.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I'm lucky if strawberries last more than 5 days! I have this problem even when they are in season. A week in and I'm throwing many away

                          (But blackberries last about 10 -14 days. Same with Blueberries)

                          1. re: livetocook

                            Store unwashed berries (all types of berries) in a glass jar. They will last longer.

                            1. re: Cathy

                              That works for washed ones, too... just blot them and air dry for a while before putting in the jar.

                              1. re: livetocook

                                Keep them in the freezer... I know this kind of ruins the fresh factor, but frozen blueberries and semi-frozen strawberries are actually delightful. (And I am a fruit addict, so if I keep it in the freezer, I don't eat all of my good berries at once.)

                            2. re: GraceW

                              broccoli, cabbage, red peppers and jalapenos, celery and carrots all last a few weeks at least.

                      2. The carrots from my CSA have an incredibly long shelf life in my fridge. A couple winters ago, we got an abundance of them (think 10 lbs when all was said and done) and didn't use the last of them until the following fall.

                        I can get a month out of well wrapped celery. I find that beets, turnips, kohlrabi, cabbage all have a very long life in the fridge too.

                        I also keep buttermilk for much longer than the expiry date suggests.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: agoodbite

                          Nearly embarrassed to admit it (esp. given the thread on food waste), but I just found & unwrapped (from foil) celery from Thanksgiving--good heavens, it's still crispy. I also keep buttermilk, even after it's "clabbered," which is what my Mom always used for biscuits.

                        2. I'm probably going to draw fire here, but I can keep butter for long periods of time in the fridge. I also can keep eggs for a long while. Yogurt for me does not keep indefinitely, nor does cottage cheese or regular cheese. We refrigerate the natural peanut butter after opening and stirring, and it keeps forever, as does commercial salad dressing (Hellmann's). But the OP does not want condiments in the list so I won't mention mustard and such. Mr. Sueatmo insists on refrigerating the jam, and naturally it keeps quite well there too. (Not sure where this insistence comes from, but he is quite firm on this. I think it is sort of funny, actually.) Apples will store for several weeks in the crisper drawer. I do not refrigerate bananas, potatoes, winter squashes, onions or garlic.

                          15 Replies
                          1. re: sueatmo

                            not sure why you thought you'd "draw fire" for that post, but i've also been known to keep eggs in the fridge for a *very* long time. and yes, butter keeps pretty much indefinitely, though if not wrapped well it can absorb odors, thus compromising taste/quality.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              Yup - me too! I keep both butter and eggs for long periods of time and have never had any problems.

                              1. re: sueatmo

                                butter keeps forever. although not around here, lol.

                                1. re: sueatmo

                                  Butter keeps forever, so do eggs and unopened yogurt... the older it is, the lower the carbs, too. I've kept yogurt for months, have yet to unseal a bad one yet, even after months. Plain, only. Olives keep well in the fridge, though are better fresh and room temp, they're still good. Regular cheese, properly rewrapped or placed in a container, will often last a very long time.

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    How long is forever with eggs? A few years back my brother called me and asked, " how far past the expiry date can I eat eggs?" I said, "I've gone a month with no problem." His response," Oh. Well, I guess 6 months is probably too long then"

                                    I was like, "Do NOT feed that to your daughter!" (She was 6 at the time)

                                    Would he have been OK?

                                    1. re: livetocook

                                      At 6 months, I'd imagine the eggs are probably inedible.

                                      Not because they are unsafe -- but because most of the albumen had probably evaporated so that you essentially only have an empty shell with some remnants of yolk.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Okay that would be pretty gross but, at least they wouldn't have been rotten .That was my worry let alone salmonella poisoning his girl.

                                        I couldn't help but, laugh and said, "not much of a egg person, are yah?"

                                        Maybe I should direct him to cstout's thread on wasting food..lol. Well, he has a great lady in his life now. We consider ourselves foodie twins. ;)

                                      2. re: livetocook

                                        I don't eat eggs past the point that the whites are still firm. If the white runs all over when I crack an egg, I consider them done for. That's a different length of time depending upon how they were handled, stored, etc. in the first place. And I never buy enough that they last for months. I prefer egg white to stand up high on the yolk and firm, not running all over the pan when I cook them; that's fresh.

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          I don't think there's a legitimate reason to toss eggs just because the whites are thin.
                                          If that's your preference, fine, but other than perhaps their suitability for whipping into a meringue, or other baking in which the egg provides the rise, they are usable, without a difference in flavor.

                                          Ipse's correct, a really old egg turns into a shell with a hard pellet of yolk rattling around inside. I usually get local eggs, which are brown-shelled and vary greatly in size. So I sometimes get a carton of large white supermarket eggs for more accuracy in baking. I once had a single white egg in the refrigerator door (I know eggs should be kept in the carton but my fridge space is at a premium) for perhaps 4 months. When I wanted to use it, I noticed it weighed next to nothing and heard the yolk rolling around in the otherwise-dry interior. Didn't crack it to see what it looked like, for fear of the possible smell. Only later did I learn that the sulfur is in the whites, so it probably would have been odorless.

                                          1. re: greygarious

                                            Well, to each his own, but once the white is watery, that egg is older and a LOT less palatable than I want it to be. Before the white is all gone, the egg is already old, I don't need the white to be gone to know that.

                                            1. re: greygarious

                                              I store eggs in the fridge door too. Who makes these rules up, anyway? I've never had spoiled egg in decades of cooking.

                                          2. re: livetocook

                                            I test my eggs by putting them ina bowl of cool water. If they float, they get tossed out. I don't know how good my testing is, but this is they way I've always done it. I guess I prefer not to crack open a rotten egg.

                                            1. re: mcel215

                                              A floating egg does not meat a rotten egg. Just means, as noted above, that some of the albumen has evaporated. Plenty fine to eat. Next time you have those floating eggs, send them my way.

                                      3. I don't store apples, potatoes or onions in the fridge. Or any root vegetable.

                                        I suppose the foodstuff that last longest in our fridge wouild be hard cheeses. But, of course, cheeses are intended for storage.

                                        1. Cabbages (especially red ones) keep quite well in the fridge.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: BobB

                                            If you remove one leaf at a time, rather than slicing, cabbage remains pristine in the fridge for months.
                                            Unopened yogurt - I've used it without noticing any deterioration over a year beyond sell-by date.
                                            Shredded coconut
                                            nuts
                                            steel-cut oats
                                            cooked bacon (I bake a pound at a time, then refrigerate)
                                            maple syrup - if mold forms, boil, strain, re-chill

                                            1. re: greygarious

                                              I'd forgotten about maple syrup. And I remembered that I refrigerate olive oil because I don't use it up very fast. Refrigerated it shouldn't ever go rancid.

                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                You're not afraid to taste yogurt that's been in the fridge a year? I've never given it much thought -- I automatically toss it if it's beyond the sell-by date.

                                                1. re: CindyJ

                                                  I've never kept yogurt a year, but have definitely had some go at least a month beyond the "sell by" date, unopened, and be perfectly fine when I did open it. It's easy enough to tell by smell and appearance whether yogurt's gone bad, especially plain Greek-style yogurt, which is all I buy.

                                                  The sell-by date on a food is not intended to indicate that it's not safe to eat after that date, just that it MAY start to decline in quality after that (and in many cases, quite slowly). "Best-if-used-by" dates are closer, but even they are quite conservative, more of a CYA mechanism for food producers and stores than anything based on science.

                                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                                    I haven't had any go a year, but unopened, it's as fresh as can be after 3-5 mos.

                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                      As far as I am concerned, that's unnecessarily wasteful. There are plenty of old fogies like me who can recall the decades before ANYTHING had dates of any kind. Folks used their common sense, plus senses of sight, smell, and taste to determine whether things were safe or not.

                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                        I think I needed clarification on the distinctions between the "sell by" and "use by" dates. And some items that are far beyond those dates (as items in my fridge often are) are not things I'd want to sniff, let alone taste.

                                                2. I left a jar of homemade pickles in my mother's fridge once, long ago. They were hot, so didn't get used. I ate one or two every time I visited. They lasted for several years, and the last one was as good as the first, probably better.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                    +1. I made bhut jolokia pickled peppers and super-hot habanero jelly earlier last year...both are still going strong, and we can only eat small bits at a time due to the heat levels.

                                                  2. I have found that air is the enemy of things like Salsa and Sour Cream. If you can somehow store them upside down so that the product slides down to the lid and create an airlock, they'll keep longer. Sadly, some of the product also leaks out when you do this. I have tried covering the opening with saran wrap before putting on the cover. Only helps a little. I got the bright idea to transfer the sour cream into a mayonnaise container-the squeezy kind where the lid is on the bottom. But it's too much trouble.

                                                    I am still working on a solution. Anyone?

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: pdxgastro

                                                      That's a great observation! I am going to transfer the sour cream into a ziploc baggie and store that in a Rubbermaid container, for extra protection against leakage in the refrigerator.

                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                        Do you do the trick where you stick a straw in between the zipper and suck as much air out of the bag as you can? It's a little tricky with liquid-y type things, because they want to come up the straw. :-D

                                                        1. re: pdxgastro

                                                          Get a FoodSaver vacuum sealer, and some of the jar attachments.

                                                          1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                            Because you can use regular mason jars with them, right?

                                                            1. re: pdxgastro

                                                              They have an attachment for Mason jars, but they also have rigid containers that you can put stuff in, and seal.

                                                      2. re: pdxgastro

                                                        I store Sour Cream, Yogurt and Ricotta Cheese upside down after I have opened the container. No more spoilage on them.

                                                        www.saffron215.blogspot.com

                                                      3. For some reason, grapefruit keeps longer than lemons. Don't know why.

                                                        1. Brown sugar seems to keep indefinitely in the fridge. I stick one of those terra cotta "sugar bears" into the sugar, then seal the plastic bag tightly to keep it soft.

                                                          17 Replies
                                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                                            I'm confused why you keep it in the fridge?

                                                            1. re: livetocook

                                                              Uh.... because my mother did...? I just always thought that that's where you keep brown sugar. No?

                                                              1. re: CindyJ

                                                                Well that makes sense to why you do..lol. I never have and i don't know anyone who does. I have an airtight container with one of those terra cotta disk in it sitting in my lazy susan. I usually get through my brown sugar within 18mths of buying and would think it'd last for years in there had I decided to stop making some super yummy treats :))

                                                                1. re: livetocook

                                                                  Those disks are for suckers. They are quite expensive, and no different than an unused flower pot saucer made of unglazed red clay. Or a wet cotton ball set into a bottlecap.

                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                    I guess that makes me a sucker for spending $1 for something that really works well. I didn't have an unused flower pot saucer (which might also cost $1) that would fit into the box of brown sugar.

                                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                                      haha Cindy, I was just thinking, "well, then my ex MIL was a sucker." I got it as a stocking stuff about 15 years ago.

                                                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                                                        You got a bargain, then. They are on Amazon for from $5-9 apiece, which is the same as I used to see them for in stores like Kitchen, Etc. Still can't beat the free broken pot from the garden center, though!

                                                                    2. re: livetocook

                                                                      Maybe your mom kept the sugar in the fridge because bugs (and other vermin) can't get to it there?

                                                                2. re: CindyJ

                                                                  Brown sugar keeps indefinitely out of the fridge, too. I never heard of storing it in the fridge. It's in my pantry. Has been for decades.....

                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                    Yes, I keep mine for years out of the fridge.

                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                      Well, whaddya know! I don't know whether to be amused -- or embarrassed. :-)

                                                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                                                        Neither... if you have the room in the fridge, what's the harm? I've just never thought of refrigerating sugar. Before I saw your post, I'd guessed your mom kept hers in the fridge. :-)

                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                          a few years back i read to keep it in the freezer to keep it from turning into a brick. it works. i don't use it regularly and had too often wound up with a brown rock that no trick could soften or salvage.

                                                                          i keep all my flours, nuts and such in there anyway.

                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                            I keep nuts in the freezer... If I keep brown sugar very tightly sealed, it doesn't turn into a brick for years, which is how long it takes me to use a box except for the one I use on Thanksgiving. I keep nut flours in the freezer, too. I don' t have other flours on hand as a rule, except for a small shaker of Wondra.

                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                              i know that you eat low-carb (like i do), but i enjoy baking for others.

                                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                I do, too, but the occasion doesn't arise that often, so if it does, I buy small packages of stuff I need for it. I rarely even make low carb treats any more, just don't have the sweet tooth we used to have around here... I make LC rhubarb cobbler with almond flour crust in summer, and very occasional sugar free cheese cake or boule de neige... Thanksgiving all bets are off; Mr. MCF's family loves my very brown sugared and buttered yams and apples...

                                                                        2. re: CindyJ

                                                                          Don't be embarrassed! My mom always kept it in the fridge, too - I thought that's just how you were supposed to store it? I finally had some go rock-hard (even in the fridge) last month, but read that if you put it in a bowl with a damp towel over it, in a couple hours it softens up. It worked! After that, I put it in a tupperware and left it on the shelf of a cupboard, instead of the fridge, because I ran out of room...