13 Foods You're Probably Storing Wrong

How long kitchen staples last (and how good they taste) often depends on location, location, location.

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Nope, Not There

Are you guilty of popping onions into the fridge? Do you stash maple syrup in the cupboard? These missteps feel innocent enough, but certain staples could lose flavor and spoil faster if you store them in the wrong spot. To get the most out of your basics, take a good look around your kitchen and consider some smart relocation.


These will stay crisper and fresher in the fridge than on the counter — but stow them in a plastic bag, and don’t store them in the same drawer as your lettuce. Apples produce ethylene, a ripening gas that can make some vegetables go bad more quickly.

Brown Sugar

Some people keep this baking staple in the refrigerator, thinking it will help keep it soft. But actually, the trick to moist, pliable brown sugar is placing it an airtight container. Do that, and you can store it at room temperature.

Coffee Beans

Skip the fridge, which introduces moisture and can kill the flavor of your favorite brew. Beans will last at room temp in an airtight container, an open bag or a can for one week. Reserve the freezer for beans you want to store long term.

Dried Herbs and Spices

Heat, light and moisture will degrade the flavorful oils in many seasonings, which means keeping them on top of the refrigerator (which has a warm motor) or over the stove is a bad idea. Try a drawer or cabinet instead. Some exceptions: Sesame seeds, poppy seeds and Urfa peppers all do better in the fridge.

Ground Flax Seeds

As convenient as it sounds to keep it next to the cereal, ground flax should actually be frozen to maintain its healthful properties. After one month, however, the quality will diminish, so don’t store or grind too much at once.

Hot Sauce

Free up some space in the refrigerator door. Your collection of hot sauces will be perfectly fine at room temp for up to three years.

Maple Syrup

If you've invested in the pure stuff, move it to the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to six months. "Pancake syrup" and other artificial varieties are happy in a cabinet.


Thanks to the oils in almonds, pecans and walnuts, they'll last for only two weeks at room temperature. If you want to keep them for longer, store them in the fridge for up to nine months or in the freezer for two years.

Onions and Garlic

Your mother may have stowed them in the refrigerator produce drawer, but for maximum shelf life and flavor, they need a dry place out of the sun, where lots of air can circulate — a mesh bag or basket in your pantry will do the trick.

Peanut Butter

Processed PB is fine in the cupboard, but if you choose the all-natural variety, keep it in the refrigerator.

Sesame Oil

It goes to reason that if you should keep sesame seeds in the refrigerator, you should put toasted and plain sesame oil there too. It goes rancid faster at room temp.


Sorry, fridge, but you’re making our tomatoes mushy. We’ll keep 'em on the counter instead.

Whole-Wheat Flour

Blame the healthy oils in the germ of this baking basic. At room temp they can go bad — an off odor and darker color are signs that your bag is past its prime. For maximum longevity, keep whole-wheat flour in the fridge for up to eight months or in the freezer for up to two years.

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