Summer is just around the corner and so are the picnics, barbecues, family gatherings and impromptu parties. Last year’s condiments may not be up to snuff. Find out which condiments to keep, which to toss and how to keep track of the opened condiments. Start by cleaning out the doors in the fridge, checking the dates. Stock up the cabinets with these must-have summer picnic beverages, condiments and snacks.
Most of last year’s condiments, the ones that you keep storing upside down in hopes of getting more out of the bottle, need to be tossed out. Grocery stores tend to reduce prices on condiments at the beginning of summer and throughout the barbeque season.
Check your pantry for any of these condiments and note the shelf life of each.
* Mayonnaise – If you eat a lot of sandwiches at home or serve pasta salads that won’t be sitting in the sun for long, you’ll want to buy a couple of jars of mayo, one at the beginning of the summer and one in the middle. Unopened, mayo will last three months, and only two months once it’s open.
Good for up to one year, unopened:
* Ketchup – Look for low-sodium or non corn fructose versions, or any other of the new and improved versions of the tasty red condiment. Once ketchup is open it will last six months.
* Mustard – Stock up on spicy and regular yellow mustard. They’ll last up to a year once they’re opened.
* Worcestershire sauce – Drizzle on steaks while cooking and right before serving
These versatile ingredients have an even longer shelf life when unopened:
* Teriyaki sauce – Store this strong sauce for up to three years unopened or one month once it’s open. Brush on chicken or pineapple slices before grilling.
* Vinegar – Vinegar is a must-have ingredient for any homemade low-sodium condiment or dressing. Store it unopened for up to two years, or one year once opened.
Beverages have a long shelf life. Use any room you have to stock up when you can. Store beverages under the stairs, in a closet or in the garage. You can’t go wrong with a strong supply of soda, diet soda, bottled water, juice boxes and seltzers.
* Store unopened soda cans or bottles and juice boxes for up to six months.
* Bottled iced teas can be stored for up to a year.
The salty, crunchy snacks your family craves with their grilled meals should be less than three months old. Purchase crackers, chips, pretzels and tortilla chips whey they’re on sale and stash the bags and boxes away. Once open, store the snacks in air-tight containers and eat within two weeks.
Food Storage and Preservation, U.S.D.A.
“Kitchen Companion: Your Safe Food Handbook,” Food Safety and Inspection Service
“Heed Safe Cooking and Food Handling Advice For The Summer Grilling Season,” Food Safety and Inspection Service
The Vinegar Institute