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7 Items You Shouldn't Store In Kitchen Cabinets

Jul 29, 2023

It's time to revisit what you're throwing in your pantry.

Coming home from the grocery store or farmers market and putting away groceries seems like a pretty straightforward task. Milk goes in the refrigerator, ice cream goes in the freezer, spices go in the cabinet, and cleaning supplies go underneath the kitchen sink — or do they?

Chef Molly Gordon, based in Charleston, South Carolina, says that knowing exactly where to store food and household supplies helps keep items fresher for longer, and maintains food safety in your kitchen. "Some products stay fresher in the refrigerator," Gordon says. "While others are best kept on the counter or in a cabinet."

Molly Gordon is a chef and culinary expert in Charleston, South Carolina

Do you find yourself still throwing everything but dairy and produce into your kitchen cabinets? It's time to reconsider what you're storing in your pantry. Here are seven items that should never be stored in your kitchen cabinets.

Keeping butter on the counter (or in the cabinet) to maintain spreadable texture seems like a no-brainer, but it's important to note the type of butter you're keeping out. Unsalted butter lacks the extra protection provided by salt to ward off bacterial growth. For this reason, it's best to refrigerate unsalted butter unless you plan to use it within a few hours for a recipe.

It might seem like a good idea to toss your bananas in the pantry when you get home from the grocery store, but it will only encourage ripening. While protecting bananas from light is an important part of prolonging shelf life, so is keeping them cool. Ideally, bananas should be stored at 56 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit, making your countertop the best place to store them.

While it may seem convenient to keep cleaning supplies at-the-ready in your kitchen, it's best to keep them in an adjacent room or safer space. Little hands and furry friends can easily get into cabinets, especially those frequently used for cleaning products like under the kitchen sink. Natural cleaners, such as vinegar and baking soda, may be safe, but anything with chemical ingredients should be stored elsewhere.

Wherever you store your cleaning supplies is where all scented products — think scented trash bags and air fresheners — should be kept, too. Because trash bags and air fresheners are not made of food-grade plastic, it's possible the chemicals used to create the scent can be absorbed and contaminate edible products. "Anything that is not edible should not go into your cabinet," Gordon says.

If you're nuts about nuts, keep them out of your kitchen cabinets. Nuts are often a more costly snack item, and grocery stores sell them in the snack aisle, so it would make sense to stow them away in a cabinet, right? Wrong.

Nuts are high in unsaturated, or "good", fats, which break down quickly, causing food to become rancid, and nuts are no different. "I keep any kind of nuts in an airtight container in the freezer," Gordon says. "It keeps out moisture, keeping them fresher, longer."

Unlike maple syrup purchased at the store that may be more shelf stable, pure maple syrup doesn't have any preservatives. For this reason, it is best stored in the refrigerator.

Who doesn't keep a jar of peanut butter handy in the pantry for a late night craving? While big nut butter brands contain preservatives that keep their products shelf stable, the oils in natural nut butters will separate. In the same way nuts can go rancid if kept in a kitchen cabinet, so will natural nut butters.

Molly Gordon