Ketchup is reportedly found in 97% of American homes, but where in the home should it be kept?
Can it be stored in the pantry after it’s been opened? Or does it need to stay in the refrigerator in between trips to the dining room table? And if it should be in the fridge, why do restaurants leave it out?
Those are just a few of the questions that we — Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson, the co-hosts of HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast — posed to Kristen Aiken, HuffPost’s editorial director of Life and Commerce, when she recently stopped by to chat about keeping leftovers out of the danger zone.
“There was a huge debate over this a few years ago, and Heinz had to tweet out and explain themselves, but basically, in a restaurant, it’s different than at home, because the turnover is so fast,” Aiken said. “They’ll go through a bottle in a day, maybe, with so many people squirting it on their food.”
But even if you aren’t serving hundreds of guests a day, your ketchup would likely do just fine in the cupboard.
“Heinz, for example, is shelf-stable. You should be able to keep it not refrigerated for a long time. However, [because of specific factors that may vary from home to home like] the temperature of your room or certain storage conditions, they recommend that you refrigerate it after you open it [to maintain quality]. But it really is meant to be shelf-stable.”
That’s thanks to the product’s high level of acidity. However, other brands and homemade ketchup may not have the same acidity level and may need to be handled differently.
“There are all these new fancy ketchup brands that are organic, and they probably are not as shelf-stable, so you just have to read the label,” Aiken advised.
Heinz UK responded to this condiment storage dilemma in a 2023 tweet. After learning that more than a third of respondents to an X (formally Twitter) survey were keeping their ketchup in the cupboard, the company tweeted, “FYI: Ketchup. goes. in. the. fridge!!!”
A spokesperson for the company added, “Although we’re aware many Heinz Tomato Ketchup fans have been storing their ketchup in the cupboard, we do recommend refrigeration after opening. This is the best way to maintain the delicious tangy taste of our Heinz Tomato Ketchup that you know and love.”
So, while it’s probably safe to leave your bottle of Heinz out (and if you do, experts advise you should consume it within 30 days), if you want your ketchup to taste its very best (and who doesn’t?), keep it chilled.
Aiken also chatted with us about what you never want to do when you’re defrosting food, the foods you never want to keep in the door of your fridge and much more. Listen to the full show above or head here to check out every episode of “Am I Doing It Wrong?”
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