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How do you keep it fresh?


plk
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When I started living with people outside my immediate family (various roommates, my significant other who is now my husband), one of the first things I noticed was how much we would differ on deciding what to refrigerate. For instance, when we first moved in together, I thought it was really strange that he refrigerates peanut butter. Not only natural peanut butter, in order to keep it from separating, but also the regular supermarket stuff, like Jiff. It would never have occurred to me to do that because I don't think it's going to go rancid, and cold peanut butter is hard to spread. But I do keep butter refrigerated because I know it does go rancid, and I have tasted rancid butter (my mom keeps a stick out, unrefrigerated); it is awful.

That said, I'm sure that refrigeration customs vary greatly cross-culturally and regionally, and I'm curious to see what other people do or don't refrigerate. So, my partial list:

I do refrigerate:

Eggs

Butter

Opened jams and jellies

Opened or homemade condiments (mayo, mustard, relish, ketchup, horseradish, chili sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, garlic chili paste)

"Natural" peanut butter (the kind that separates)

Milk and all milk products (yogurt, cheese, sour cream, buttermilk, creme fraische) (and yes, I realize the irony there since most of these were developed in order to preserve milk without refrigerating it)

Meat and anything with meat in it

Fresh fruit and vegetables that aren't going to be eaten within a few days

Lettuce, regardless of when it will be eaten

I don't refrigerate:

Bread

Molasses

Honey

Flour

Sugar

Oils

Nuts

Onions

Potatoes

Banannas

Coffee beans

Other stuff that is dry (beans, polenta, cereals)

So, what do the rest of you do? Do you just follow the FDA food safety guidelines (I'm pretty sure I don't)? Do what your parent(s) taught you? Something else?

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i keep all nuts and flours with high fat contents (nut, bran, some wheat) in the freezer. otherwise i'm with you - except fruit - i rarely ever refrigerate fresh fruit at all. i prefer the flavors at room temp, and i'm also better about consuming fruits in a timely fashion if they don't go into the black hole that is my fridge.

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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Good point about the fruit disappearing in the fridge. Ours usually stays out at least a few days, but we tend not to eat it fast enough, and then it ends up in the compost.

It really interests me how people keep dairy at room temperature. I've seen somewhere butter containers (kind of like salt cellars) for keeping butter unspoiled at room temp. And I also have a little butter serving dish brought back from Africa that you fill with ice on the bottom and spread the butter in the lid on the top. Probably this is all more successful with salted butters. The sweet butter I get is pretty perishable.

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