7 foods you should always refrigerate

10 Foods You Should Never Refrigerate
10 Foods You Should Never Refrigerate

Ever wondered whether it's okay to keep butter out of the fridge, or what to do with jam after you open it?

Wonder no more.

First, when it comes to perishables, the FDA recommends refrigerating or freezing them right away. And as a general rule, meat, seafood, eggs, and certain kinds of produce should never be kept at room temperature for more than two hours (or more than one hour if it's hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit).

But what about soy milk? Jam? Read on to find out what you should be keeping in the fridge for optimal enjoyment.

Note: This is not intended as a substitute for public-health recommendations.


It goes without saying that you should refrigerate milk to slow the growth of harmful bacteria.

The FDA recommends that you never keep milk out of the fridge for more than two hours. Pasteurization (heating milk to kill bacteria) does not mean you don't need to refrigerate it.

Fresh meat/fish

Like milk, you should always refrigerate raw (or cooked) meat and separate it from other foods to prevent cross-contamination.

Here's how long meat is good for in the fridge: Raw ground meats, all poultry, seafood, and variety meats: one to two days; raw roasts, steaks, and chops (beef, veal, lamb, and pork): three to five days; and cooked meat, poultry, and seafood: three to four days.

Meat will last several months or more in the freezer.


You should always refrigerate eggs in the US to prevent the risk of infection from salmonella bacteria, according to the USDA. But the UK and other European countries don't refrigerate eggs, because the eggs are processed differently.

Some people say you can keep certain organic eggs at room temperature, but when in doubt, it's probably safest to keep 'em in the fridge.

Cheese (except for aged)

Some kinds of cheese, especially soft cheeses such as brie or ricotta, should always be refrigerated. Others, such as pasteurized or aged cheeses like Parmesan or Romano, may not need to be refrigerated (but consult package instructions).

Butter (optional)

The USDA recommends refrigerating butter, and freezing butter if you're not going to use it within one to two days. But many people keep butter in a covered dish outside the fridge. Since it's made from pasteurized milk, it's less likely to grow bacteria, according to the blog Care2.

Soy milk (after opening)

Soy milk does not need to be refrigerated before opening, and it will last at least a year on the shelf. (The reason it's in the refrigerator aisle at the supermarket is primarily for marketing!)

Once opened, soy milk should be refrigerated and consumed within five days.

Jam/condiments (after opening)

Jams, condiments, salad dressings, and similar foods can usually be kept in the pantry until opening, but, as most of these say on the package, "refrigerate after opening." Pretty straightforward.

Apples (optional)

Apples keep for about a week at room temperature, or longer if you put them in the fridge.

Some kinds of apples can be stored for much longer (several months) when wrapped individually, kept in an insulated container, and stored in a cool place.

Bananas (optional)

Most people store bananas at room temperature. You can store them in a paper bag with an apple or tomato to make them ripen faster.

Storing them in the fridge will make them turn brown, but they will still be good.

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Originally published