Among six types of mustard, a jar of mystery jam and countless other condiments, you’re trying to shove a Costco-size bottle of soy sauce into your refrigerator door. Does soy sauce actually need to be refrigerated, though? Suddenly you’re not so sure (and it’s not just because your fridge is too full). Friend, you’re in luck, but allow us to explain.
Does soy sauce need to be refrigerated?
The short answer? Nope, soy sauce doesn’t need to be refrigerated…most of the time.
One of the cool things about fermented foods like fish sauce and miso is that they can technically be left out at room temperature for some time without spoiling. Those microorganisms hanging out in the food don’t just give it flavor; they actually help preserve it, too.
Soy sauce is made from a fermented paste of soybeans, roasted grains, brine (aka saltwater) and a mold called kōji. The process takes months, and the salty brown liquid actually brews for extended periods at room temperature. So no, it doesn’t need to go in your fridge. It won’t go bad at room temp (think about the packets that you get with your Chinese takeout—they’re not usually cold). It might lose some flavor but it won’t spoil, with a few caveats.
An unopened bottle of soy sauce can last as long as two or three years (basically forever), and you can safely leave an opened bottle out of the refrigerator for up to one year. But if a bottle lasts longer than that in your household, you should probably make room among your other refrigerated condiments to preserve that soy sauce’s savory, tasty flavor.
How should I store soy sauce at room temperature?
Just like olive oil and coffee beans, soy sauce should be stored away from heat and direct sunlight. A cool, dark cabinet is a better nesting choice than beside your stovetop or on the window sill because light and heat will degrade its quality much faster. And if for some reason you went all out with a gallon jug of the stuff, we suggest decanting it into a smaller bottle and storing the rest in the fridge (you know, if it will fit in there).
Are there other condiments that I can take out of the fridge?
You bet. Hot sauce, another fermented condiment, can stay in the pantry (and that includes sriracha). Same goes for honey, which will actually crystallize at cold temperatures. And although peanut butter and olive oil will both last longer in the fridge, they can technically hang at room temperature just fine. What’s that? You need to go organize your refrigerator? Fine, we get it.