While cleaning out my fridge recently and dealing with the jumble of condiment bottles and jars on my refrigerator door, I realized I didn’t know how long bottles and jars lasted once opened. Several were two or three months old. The point when I usually start throwing stuff out. Needing a break from the cleaning job, I decided to do some research to see if I really needed to discard of some of them.
I stumbled upon Still Tasty, a handy website that tells how long foods last. I only listed times for opened containers for the condiments I am most likely to use, but the website also has time periods for many more, plus times for unopened condiments. They have other food categories too, so be sure to check them out.
The following list shows how long you can keep opened containers of common condiments in your refrigerator. These are commercially produced products, sold unrefrigerated, found on your grocer’s shelves. I’m sure you already know that homemade condiments generally only last a few days to a couple of weeks.
Shelf Life of Opened Condiments
- BBQ Sauce: 6-9 months
- Chili Sauce: 6-9 months
- Chocolate Syrup: 12-18 months
- Cocktail Sauce: 6-9 months
- Dip – Bean: 3 -4 days
- Dip – Cheese: 2-3 weeks
- Dip – French Onion: 7-10 days
- Horseradish (prepared): 3-4 months
- Hot Sauce: 5 years
- Ice Cream Topping/Syrup: 12-18 months
- Jam and Jelly: 1 year
- Ketchup: 9-12 months
- Maple Syrup (100% pure): 1 year
- Mayonnaise: 2-3 months after the “Use by” or “Best by” date
- Mustard (all types): 1 year
- Olives: 1 year, 2-3 months (from the deli)
- Pickles: 1 year
- Relish: 1 year
- Salad Dressing: 6-9 months (if sold unrefrigerated), 6 months or date on package (if sold refrigerated)
- Salsa:1 month (if sold unrefrigerated), 5-7 days (if sold refrigerated)
- Soy Sauce: 2 years
- Steak Sauce: 2 years
- Sweet & Sour Sauce: 1 year
- Syrup (artificial flavored): 12-18 months
- Taco Sauce: 1 month
- Tartar Sauce: 6 months
- Teriyaki Sauce: 1 year
- Worcestershire Sauce: 2 years
Now, seriously, I doubt we have many condiments last that long, but it’s good to know that I don’t need to throw out half-full bottles after only 2 or 3 months.
What about those little fast food condiment packets? When we get take-out or drive-thru food, we ask for 1 or 2 packets of our favorite sauce or condiment, but invariably they will throw a handful in the sack. I never know what to do with the extras. The trash always comes to mind, but I can’t bring myself to throw them out. So I end up with a container full. I always try to keep them organized to use them first in, first out. But when the containers started overflowing, I would pitch them all in the trash, determined not to accept any more than exact the number of packets we ask for. Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked too well for me.
Well, my intentions are good anyway…..
Then for another dilemma, do they go in the fridge or is it okay to put them in the cabinet. They are under the counter in fast food restaurants, but they probably hand out hundreds of packets a day, so unlikely they ever get near their expiration date. I finally researched it and found out they are shelf stable, so they are perfectly safe keeping in the cabinet.
The folks over at The Outdoor Herbivore did all the research, including checking with manufacturers’ about their”best by” dates, to determine how long those little fast food condiment packets will last. Before using, make sure the packages are not damaged and that the product looks and smells good. Any questionable packages should be thrown out.
- BBQ Sauce, Cocktail Sauce, Ketchup, Mayonnaise, Nut Butters, Salad Dressings, Tartar Sauce: 1 year for best flavor.
- Jelly/Preserves, Mustard, Soy Sauce, Parmesan Cheese, Taco Sauce: 1-2 years for best flavor.
- Pepper, Tabasco Sauce, Vinegar: 3-4 years.
- Honey, Salt, Sugar: Indefinitely.
Instead of putting the date on the bottle or jar of when I open them, I think I’m going to start putting an “use by” date based on this list. That way I don’t have to do the math when I see the opening date.
Hope this handy list is helpful for you!