Here's Why You Should Never Store Cured Meats In Your Pantry

While some food items are extremely shelf-stable — think non-perishable goods like honey, powdered milk, salt, vinegar, etc. — others are much more finicky and subject to spoilage. Foods like berries, avocados, and cooked vegetables last only a couple of days before they start to go bad (via Eat This, Not That).

But those items are easily stored in their "proper" place, be it the pantry or the refrigerator. Most people know that yogurt, for example, should go in the fridge. But what about those gray-area food products, like maple syrup, opened wine, and cured meats? Where do those go?

Here's a hint: not in the pantry. That's right. If you're currently storing items like salami, bacon, or pepperoni in your pantry, you should probably relocate them to your fridge. You might be thinking, cured meats are displayed at room temperature at the grocery store, what's the difference? It's all about freshness and food safety, folks.

Unsealed cured meats deteriorate more quickly than you'd expect

Cured meats may sit out at room temperature at your local grocery store, but they're also sealed in airtight packages. Once you open those cured meats, it's a whole different story. Exposure to oxygen quickly starts to dry the cured meat out (via Eat Cured Meat).

Rather than store your cured meats in the pantry, you should keep them in the fridge once opened. Eating Well recommends rewrapping cured meats to limit oxygen exposure and storing them in the same drawer as your cheese. In general, cured meats are best kept somewhere cold and dark.

However, not all cured meats need to be refrigerated. Jerky and biltong, for example, can be kept in the pantry, but you can also store it in the fridge to maintain what little moisture is left in the meat (via Simply Called Food). A good rule of thumb is to check the packaging of your cured meat, as it will usually tell you how it needs to be stored.