Foods that cause confusion and how you should store them

From eggs to veg and cakes and ketchup, we clear up the confusion around which foods should and shouldn’t be kept in the fridge.

Meat, fish and dairy products need to go in the fridge. Rice, pasta and beans are kept in the cupboard. But some foods spark heated discussions and arguments when it comes to where they should be stored.

We clear up the confusion when it comes to the most hotly debated foodstuffs.


The humble egg often generates a fierce debate when it comes to where and how it should be stored. Whole eggs should be kept in a cool dry place until you use them, so the fridge is ideal as it provides the constant cool temperature required. However, despite many domestic fridges including egg trays in the door, this is definitely not the best place for them as the fluctuation in temperature could lead to bacteria growth.


Another everyday item that divides opinion is ketchup. If you’re keeping yours at room temperature, rest assured the acidity levels, salt and sugar means your bottles of red sauce are microbiologically safe. However if it’s open for more than a month it’s not a bad idea to move it to the fridge. That said, in most catering businesses a bottle won’t last that long.

(It’s also worth bearing in mind that the big brand ketchup we all know and love pre-dates household fridges.)



It could be argued this one is all down to personal preference, but officially speaking, the ideal storage temperature for chocolate is between 15 and 17°C and less than 50% humidity.  Wherever you choose to store chocolate, remember it absorbs aromas easily and should be kept away from foods such as herbs, spices, onions and garlic.


According to the ultimate shelf life guide; you should not refrigerate ground coffee, as the temperature fluctuations will affect the flavour.

Even when storing at ambient temperatures your choice of container matters. To preserve that fresh roasted flavour as long as possible, avoid clear canisters which allow light in as this could also compromise the taste.



Fruit and vegetables

Deciding which fruit and veg you should store in the fridge can be a minefield, but think about it logically. Where does the part of the vegetable you eat grow? Taking this approach you can reasonably conclude root vegetables will do better in a well-ventilated cupboard than a fridge.

Similarly, products that ripen in the sun should not be chilled - that includes all soft fruit and tomatoes.

Green leaves and vegetables on the other hand do last longer in the fridge. Give them a wash, dry, then refrigerate in a bag. The bag creates a microclimate which will helps preserve and perk up limp leaves.

Peanut butter

An open jar of peanut butter will last up to three months at ambient temperatures. After that you should store it in the fridge where it will keep for a further three or four months. No, you won’t be able to spread it straight from the fridge, but you also won’t have to deal with the unsightly oil separation that can occur over time.


Jams and marmalades are naturally acidic, which restricts bacterial growth, so do not need chilling immediately. However, if not consumed after around six months, transfer to the fridge.

Remember though, moulds are more resistant to acidity, so fungi can sometimes grow on opened jam. Make sure you always use a clean spoon or knife when using jam as dirty utensils can trigger mould growth.


Many people like to keep butter at a ready-to-spread consistency, and because of its fatty content it can last at room temperature for a day or two. Any longer than this, keep it in the fridge, especially if it is unsalted.


Most cakes, whether decorated or not, are perfectly fine at room temperature in a domestic kitchen for several days in an airtight container (or a microwave if you don’t have one to hand).

However, commercial kitchens can get much hotter during the day. If this is the case, or if you cake won’t be served for more than three days, or contains fresh fruit, whipped cream or cream cheese, it will need to be refrigerated.

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Alex Andersen

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