/ Food & Drink

Where do you keep ketchup?

Tomato ketchup on shelf

Following a poll on Twitter that divided opinion pretty much straight down the middle, a branch of Asda has started stocking bottles of tomato ketchup in the fridge as well as on the shelf.

The poll of over 2,600 people saw 54% vote in favour of the cupboard and 46% the fridge, and led to quite a heated debate on social media.

Cupboard love

Naturally, the news sparked our own mini discussion about what should go in the fridge and what shouldn’t, so we figured it would make a perfect topic for convo.

When it came to ketchup, we were firmly in the cupboard camp.

Despite the fact that it says: ‘After opening refrigerate and eat within eight weeks’ on the bottle, I never have. Neither has my mum and nor did my nan (who used to call it ‘red sauce’ and certainly didn’t get through a whole bottle of the stuff within eight weeks!)

It’s a preserve (OK, it’s actually a condiment, which, in my opinion, amounts to pretty much the same thing). It’s packed with vinegar, sugar and salt, and was invented way before fridges existed. Surely keeping it in the fridge is a bit like shoving pickled onions or jam in there. To me, it defies logic.

In or out?

Once we’d concurred with each other on the matter, we got round to discussing other food ‘essentials’ – and it wasn’t as clear cut.

With mayonnaise, we all agreed it should live in the fridge and are wary of eating it if it hasn’t been kept in one. However, we weren’t so sure about eggs and butter.

With cheese, we decided it depended on provenance, and with chocolate, we said you risked destroying its consistency or breaking your teeth if you chilled it.

As for actual tomatoes? My foodie friend assures me they should be kept out on the worktop, something I’ve always scoffed at.

But it seems she’s right. According to research, chilling them below 12ºC inhibits their ability to generate substances that contribute to aroma and flavour.

So, to chill or not to chill, that is the question. What foods should definitely go in the fridge and what should be kept in the larder?

Where do you keep your ketchup?

In the fridge, like how it tells you to on the bottle (56%, 114 Votes)

In the food cupboard (44%, 90 Votes)

Total Voters: 204

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With most things these days, once it is opened it goes in the fridge. Our exceptions are honey, peanut butter, Lea & Perrins, oils and vinegars.

Whether it is necessary or not, I think it is better to be safe than sorry just in case something goes off because it is not refrigerated. I am sure things last longer if kept in the fridge.

We don’t always eat things within the time stated and use common sense whether it can still be consumed. I didn’t know it said with 6 weeks for ketchup and ours usually lasts several months !!! 🙂

I have always refrigerated eggs although my mum used to keep them on a marble slab. Butter would soon go rancid if left out so is refrigerated.


we keep our tomato sauce on the table – occasionally, if we tidy up, it goes in a deep kitchen drawer.

The problem with fridges is you can easily overlook the contents. The shelves are too deep. I’d design a fridge with deep shelves on the door and shallower ones fixed in the cavity, so you have more chance of seeing the contents.

Eggs – on the worktop.
Cheese – in the fridge, but if you want to eat it with crackers or bread, best to get it out to reach room temperature. Apparently its structure changes when cold.
Bread – I’m told you shouldn’t but we find it keeps much better. However, we don’t but pappy white loaves.
Chocolate – never refrigerate. it’ll try to break your teeth and the whole point of chocolate is to melt gently in your mouth at tongue temperature.


In the fridge. Ketchup should be cold. 😉


Doesn’t it lose its gloop and go stiff if it’s kept in the fridge? I like it a bit runny so we keep it in the cupboard.


Tomato ketchup is an everyday example of a time-dependent non-Newtonian fluid. Some people shake the bottle and pour out the sauce without even thinking about the concept of shear-thinning. And yes, the rheological properties are also temperature-dependent, hence the change in gloopiness when stored in the fridge.


We need a shaking head emoji. The first time I take a peek at this topic and see the exhilaratingly mind-boggling lines “Doesn’t it lose its gloop and go stiff if it’s kept in the fridge? I like it a bit runny so we keep it in the cupboard.”. Not having read the header I started wonder to which reality I’d been transported.


I was very impressed by Wavechange’s scientific discourse until I arrived at “gloopiness” and I burst out laughing! Still very impressed, but also amused. Perfect.


Thank you Sophie, but it was inspired by John’s post. I enjoyed your comment about Dante and his usurers in the banking topic, but that’s off topic right now.


This all started when the makers of Sunny Delight insisted that supermarkets put it in the chiller cabinets. There was no actual necessity but it gave the product a more genuine character as if it were a perishable juice.

I have noticed that jams and marmalade now also carry a “keep refrigerated after opening and consume within N weeks” warning on the label. This was never necessary when I was growing up and we had several jars on the go [including mother’s home-made] and some of them were in the cupboard for months after opening. Same with pickled onions and other heavily preserved items. Are the manufacturers scared of the health consequences if someone leaves the lid off or doesn’t screw it back on tightly enough to keep the air out?


Tomatoes are best kept at room temperature, as Melanie says. There is little more disappointing than tasteless tomatoes. Unfortunately, what happens before we buy them may be more important. Unless tomatoes are going to be used within a day or two they are best are stored in the fridge.

Butter and cheese are kept in the fridge but allowed to reach room temperature before use. I don’t want to create mass listeria but is important to keep soft cheeses in the fridge.

Bread goes in the fridge unless it is to be used promptly. Yes it is better if kept at room temperature but it won’t last long in warm conditions. Mould will be present long before you see it growing on bread.

Eggs are kept in the fridge for safety reasons (who can forget Edwina curried eggs), as are preserves and jams after opening jars.

Chocolate is stored in the cupboard and lasts longer if kept out of sight.

I don’t buy ketchup because it is too sweet, though I do use unsweetened tomato sauce in cooking.

My only interest in mayonnaise is avoiding the stuff. ‘No Mayo’ is a welcome food label for me.


4 points for an unnecessary abbrev.


You have a point Malcolm, but I am simply quoting what the manufacturers use on their labels. Marks and Spencer, private limited company sell Egg Mayo and Prawn Mayo sandwiches but I seem to recall that they have some varieties that feature Mayonnaise.


I remember going into a girlfriends house and her mother made some food in the kitchen looking across I saw a bottle of milk on the window sill without a cap , every time I went in it was the same. I remember thinking –flies buzz around window what if a fly falls into the milk or a “creepy crawly ” falls in , even now 55 years later I cant get that thought out of my mind


From the Heinz website:
“Q: Do I need to refrigerate Ketchup?
A: Because of its natural acidity, Heinz® Ketchup is shelf-stable. However, its stability after opening can be affected by storage conditions. We recommend that this product, like any processed food, be refrigerated after opening. Refrigeration will maintain the best product quality after opening. ”

On the basis that bugs can grow in vinegar, and many bugs use sugar I reckon it is a good idea to keep ketchup in the fridge.


Does the label on your ketchup say- tomato concentrate-distilled vinegar- high fructose corn syrup . corn syrup , salt,spice.onion powder as US versions ? quote- most bottled ketchup consists of overcooked tomatoes and a large bolus of sugar , usually in the form of genetically engineered corn syrup .”Natural flavorings ” (US spelling ) which are really flavor boosting chemicals one being MSG . Or are the UK versions fully kosher ? PS- they sell ketchup in cans in the US. I found one US website with the heading -avoid Heinz tomato ketchup like the plague I am sorry the new browser I used to get this doesn’t allow downloads or storage of URL,s etc


Don’t panic, Duncan. Courtesy of Ocado, Heinz Tomato Ketchup contains: “Tomatoes (148g per 100g Tomato Ketchup), Spirit Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Spice and Herb Extracts (contain Celery), Spice”, and says that it is Kosher. I could not find this on the Heinz site.


Are we meaning “kosher” in the sense of compliant with Jewish law, or in the slang sense of “all right” [or “cushtie” as Del Boy had it]? I would imagine that tomato ketchup would pass both tests.


John the American version wouldn’t pass strict Jewish law everything has to be natural , no man made (synthetic ) food nor clothing for that matter (mixed fabrics ) on the other hand “cushtie ” would pass the British version but if you check the “Green ” websites you will find they agree with natural ingredients. I wouldn’t eat tomato leaves/root /stem -poisonous from the nightshade family although tomatoes are supposedly good for the heart.


When you were asking whether the UK tomato ketchup was “fully kosher” I was just wondering in which sense you meant that, because the word ‘kosher’ is frequently used in a slang sense, and indeed I seem to recall you have used the word in that sense in respect of hi-fi equipment.

I am not sure why we are considering the US versions of tomato ketchup. The bottle of Heinz ketchup in our cupboard [address: Hayes, Middlesex] , says it contains no artificial colours, no artificial flavours, no artificial preservatives, and no thickeners. If, as Wavechange reports, Ocado describes Heinz tomato ketchup as Kosher I take that to mean it complies with the Jewish doctrines. As you say, this is important also to many people outside the Jewish faith. I think it is helpful of Ocado to declare it.

There are several other makes of tomato ketchup available including supermarket own-label versions. There are also several different varieties of Heinz tomato ketchup with numerous flavours and additives to appeal to particular tastes. The extent to which they contain artificial ingredients might be interesting.


How many people have died from not refrigerating their ketchup? To treat this problem seriously we need some factual analysis that can be passed to Hayes Trading Standards Dept. What about those who cannot read? Those without fridges? Those who prefer warm ketchup? We need to think about others, not just ourselves.


What about those, like Duncan presumably, who pronounce it ‘tom8o’?

My parents always called it ‘tomato sauce’ – when did we start calling it ‘ketchup’? – Is this another annoying invasion from the USA?


Malcolm – From the information provided about Heinz Tomato Ketchup, it appears that refrigerated storage is useful to maintain quality of the product once the bottle has been opened. I’m not aware that there is a safety issue.

The composition of some products has been changed, making them more likely to spoil without refrigeration. For example the sugar content of many jams and marmalades has been decreased, making them more susceptible to mould growth if stored for without refrigeration. Since brands differ it is obviously wise to follow the guidance on the labels.


Even more disgusting is “Catsup”. The English language is perverse but entertaining. They are tomartos, and they are pot8os – I like your concise illustration John. We should resist transatlantic language and uphold true English with all its colour, and our sauces with all their flavour (both words that this Convo wants to Americanise (oops – Americanize)) – just as the Welsh have preserved their language. Unnecessary but life is about more than that.


I’m thinking we shall have to get a little fridge to go inside the food cupboard.


I presume the appeal of ketchup results from the popular sweet/sour combination combined with the bright red colour (due to lycopene in red tomatoes), which makes food more appealing. Brown cooked meat may not be appealing to children without a dose of ketchup.


We buy M&S Tomato Ketchup at half the price and as nice, or nicer, in our view. I wonder how people survive the ketchup stored in plastic tomatoes in cafes? Do you think that having been out in the steamy atmosphere of the greasy Spoon all day they are put in a fridge? All that might do is to arrest the development of whatever until they spend another18 hours out in the warmth the following day. I wonder whether the local councils food inspectors have this on their check list?


It is probably better to supply sachets of tomato and brown sauces because they only get opened and used up.


They are nasty little things that, when you manage to tear them open, seem determined to squirt material in the most inappropriate places. I also dislike tiny packs of frozen butter that never spread on your toast, and are too small to cover it, and little tubs of Jam that lack proper pieces of strawberry. They all waste plastic and add to landfill. I can happily work with a dish or jar of jam, and a decent pot of butter or even those squirls on a dish. I won’t die. 🙂


Hmmm….without wishing to become ostracized or exorcize any linguistic demons might I remind folks that the -ize suffice is originally English and listed in the full OED as the correct spelling.


I don’t like sachets but have no problem with their sauce contents as found in pubs and eating places. Better than dirty bottles or open dishes. I haven’t encountered a squirt problem – I think it’s a question of how you go about opening them; I have seen people try to do it with their teeth.

The problem with the butter packs is that they are chilled and have not been taken out of the fridge early enough for service – a catering malfunction rather than a product deficiency.

Some ‘jam’ sachets seem to contain just jelly. In the UK we prefer places where there is a selection of Tiptree jams and marmalade in little glass jars on the table which the waiters will gladly replenish. What you get overseas is anybody’s guess.


Oxford Dictionaries:
“The situation is slightly complicated by the fact that certain verbs must always be spelled with ‘-ise’ at the end in British English, rather than ‘-ize’: this is generally because they have come into the English language in a different way. You can also check out a list of these verbs. The difficulty in remembering which words belong to this group is perhaps one of the reasons that –ise spellings were adopted more widely in British English.

The dictionary on the UK/World side of our website gives alternative ‘-ise’ spellings at the main entries for all ‘-ize’ words where it’s appropriate. In British English, it doesn’t matter which spelling convention is chosen: neither is right or wrong, and neither is ‘more right’ than the other. The important thing is that, whichever form you choose, you should use it consistently within a piece of writing.

ostracize (also ostracise) exorcise (also exorcize)”


The Americans still keep many of the older English forms and still use the subjunctive mood in both speech and documents.