Ina Garten Always Keeps This 1 Surprising Ingredient in Her Fridge: ‘I Might Take Hell for This’

Ina Garten is a reliable source for cooking knowledge and she also knows a thing or two about stocking her refrigerator and pantry. There’s one item that most people keep in their pantry that, surprisingly, Garten stores in her refrigerator.

Ina Garten on the Today show October 10, 2018
Ina Garten | Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Ina Garten keeps this surprising ingredient in her refrigerator

In a September 2020 interview with Food & Wine, Garten shared some of her favorite items to keep on hand in her refrigerator and pantry. She acknowledged that one ingredient she “might take hell” for keeping in her fridge as most people stock it in their pantry.

The interviewer noted that, in addition to the typical refrigerator items, Garten keeps “a broad assortment of vinegars,” including apple cider, balsamic, red wine, and champagne vinegars, in her fridge.

“For anything I’m making, if it has like a little splash of vinegar, it just gives it an edge and wakes everything up,” Garten shared. “And I keep them in the fridge.”

She continued, “I know a lot of people keep them in the pantry. I might take hell for this, but I just find that they don’t develop bacteria in the fridge.”

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Do you need to refrigerate vinegar?

Though Garten keeps her vinegar chilled, it’s not a requirement to refrigerate vinegar. In the FAQ section on The Vinegar Institute website, the answer to the question “How Long Does Vinegar Last?” indicates that refrigeration is not necessary.

“The Vinegar Institute conducted studies to find out and confirmed that vinegar’s shelf life is almost indefinite,” the site explains. “Because of its acid nature, vinegar is self-preserving and does not need refrigeration.”

“White distilled vinegar will remain virtually unchanged over an extended period of time. And, while some changes can be observed in other types of vinegars, such as color changes or the development of a haze or sediment, this is only an aesthetic change,” the site notes. “The product can still be used and enjoyed with confidence.”

Ina Garten keeps some dinner staples on hand in her pantry

Garten also shared some of the contents of her pantry and said she’s always got it stocked with store-bought pasta and sauce to pull together a quick dinner.

“Because you have to make dinner every night, and you can’t always go shopping,” she explained. “I like to keep shopping to a minimum, so if I have a lot of pasta sauces and pastas, I can always make dinner.”

Garten’s go-to tomato sauce is Rao’s. She told Bon Appetit in 2018 why she likes the store-bought sauce in her pantry. “I think you can spend the entire day making good marinara sauce, or you can buy Rao’s Marinara sauce, which I think is just fantastic,” she said. “It’s great for lasagna. It’s great for pasta. It’s great for putting together a really fast dinner.”

Garten also shared her preference for boxed pasta over fresh. “I have basically two categories of pasta. I most often used De Cecco pasta, which I think is really good quality,” the cook explained. “I’ll use any shape, like fusilli, penne, bow ties, whatever I’m in the mood for.”

She continued, “But for a really luxurious dish, I love Cipriani Tagliarelle. It’s basically linguini. It tastes like fresh pasta, but better (I don’t happen to love fresh pasta. I find it, very often, a little too doughy for me). It cooks in three minutes, and it’s just fabulous.”