The fridge and freezer are your friends here.

By Clarissa Buch
August 12, 2020
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No one wants to see a jar of mustard exploded in their cabinet or dried-out prosciutto on their pantry shelf. Learn from some of the country’s top chefs, including Judy Joo, Donatella Arpaia, and David Lee, who all made the mistake of storing at least one of these items in their pantries instead of the refrigerator or freezer.

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From cured meats and maple syrup to mustard and fish sauce, these ingredients should be thrown back into the fridge or freezer before it’s too late. (And check out these incredible jarred foods that chefs always have in their pantries.)

Any type of nuts

“Peanuts, walnuts, pine nuts, and to be honest, all nuts should not be stored in the pantry. If not stored properly in an airtight container, nuts will go stale. And let's be real—we usually grab our nuts from the pantry during a rush and might have wet hands while grabbing from the container or not closing it properly after use. Just a small amount of moisture will cause the nuts to grow bacteria and leaving the nuts exposed will cause it to go stale. The best place to store nuts is in your fridge or freezer in an airtight container.” — Chef Kyu Yi, corporate chef of Baekjeong  

Maple syrup

“Maple syrup will grow moldy outside the fridge, especially the organic varieties." — Judy Joo, celebrity chef and cookbook author of Korean Soul 

Tamarind pods

“Never store tamarind pods in your pantry. I used to store them there, and then one day I found them bubbling as though they fermented. When I opened one up, it had what looked like maggots coming out of it. Needless to say, I threw it out." — Franklin Becker, chef and founder of 100Pleats.com

Cold-pressed oils

“Cold-pressed oils, such as sunflower oil and truffle oil, have the longest shelf life when kept in the fridge rather than the pantry."  — David Lee, executive chef and co-founder of Planta

Chocolate

"Keeping chocolate in the fridge helps it stay as fresh as possible.”  — David Lee, executive chef and co-founder of Planta

Cured meats

“Cured meats such as hard Italian salami should never be kept in the pantry and should be refrigerated in butcher paper instead. Although many say shelf stable, leaving it in the pantry dries the meat out. In addition, there have been studies showing the presence of food-borne illnesses, so play it safe and put it in the fridge." — Donatella Arpaia, celebrity chef and owner of Prova Pizzabar

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Infused olive oil

“Garlic-infused olive oil should always be kept in the fridge, not the pantry. It may actually freeze in the fridge a bit, but this type of oil may contain botulism—so that’s why it’s important to not store in the pantry but in the fridge instead."  — Anne Burrell, celebrity chef and host of Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America

Peanut butter 

"Peanut butter should also actually be kept in the fridge and not stored in the pantry." — Anne Burrell

Bread

“If you store it in the pantry, it will become moldy—but if you place it in a plastic bag and refrigerate it, it will last much longer. I lightly toast mine, add some great Sicilian olive oil, and then top it with either smoked salmon or imported prosciutto." — Joe Gurrera, owner of Citarella

Mustard

“I brought a stoneware jug of mustard home from a trip to Belgium and was so excited to serve it to friends.  The shop scooped it out of a wooden barrel, so I believed it was somehow protected by its 'old world charm.' Unfortunately, it fermented, and the lid, along with half the mustard, exploded in my cabinet.” — Tom Berry, culinary director of COJE Management Group (Yvonne’s, Lolita, Mariel, and Ruka)

"Mustard will lose its pungency in the pantry, so store it in the fridge to keep its vibrant flavor." — Judy Joo

Chocolate chip cookies

“I never put my chocolate chip cookies in the pantry. Once you eat them straight out of the freezer, you’ll understand why.” — Glenn Rolnick, corporate chef of Alicart Restaurant Group (Carmine’s and Virgil’s Real BBQ)

Fish sauce

"Another item to never store in your pantry is fish sauce. If it spills accidentally, you are never getting rid of that smell.” —Franklin Becker