No judgment here, you stuck those crackers in the fridge, didn’t you? All of us at some time have the brain moment, “why can’t I put chips and crackers in the fridge?” Everyone has a legitimate reason why they need to put crackers in a fridge. How will those crackers fare in the morning?
Let’s spend a little time with the idea of storing crackers in the fridge…
Why crackers go stale in the refrigerator
Sorry, folks. The fast answer is that crackers go stale in refrigerators. If you understand the “why” you can prevent it from happening.
Crackers go stale in the fridge if they are uncovered or stored in the same container with moist food. Crackers absorb the moisture of anything in the fridge, causing the crackers to lose their crisp quality.
In short, crackers go downhill pretty fast, losing their crispness and peak flavor. If the crackers are stored on a meat and cheese tray, they can get a very unappealing soft texture. You might as well thought the crackers away because no one wants to eat a soggy cracker.
Put money back in your pocket and learn how to keep those refrigerator crackers crisp, read on!
How to prevent crackers from going stale in the fridge
Further below, I discuss the success of Lunchables. This popular lunch kit company figured out how to keep crackers and cookies crisp. How can we mimic their success?
The key is putting the crackers in an air-tight container. Some people opt to leave the crackers out of the fridge and add them to the lunch bag in the morning. That works, too.
If you have multiple lunch bags to pack (for school lunches) every short cut counts. If you’re using a Ziplock bag, do your best to expel all of the air when sealing the crackers (or chips) in. I’ve had to hack the Ziplock snack bags, because they haven’t worked the best for me, I’ve resorted to bag sealing clips, which are crazy simple, cheap, and work incredibly well. You can also purchase air-tight containers, small enough for a lunch bag.
Sealing bag clips work perfect to reseal cracker sleeves, Ziplock bags, or any bag.
In the above picture, the yellow sealing bag clips are 2 1/4″. I show using them with soda crackers and graham crackers. It’s possible to fold over the bag plastic if it is really wide, and then use a smaller clip. I’m not sure if that affects the integrity of the seal, probably.
For things like resealing Ziplock bags, it doesn’t matter to me. I just don’t want to fiddle with the wimpy seal when on a road trip. The pink bag sealing clip is 3″ – the clip on the dried cranberry bag is 4 1/4″ and the jumbo purple clip is 7″. In the picture, I have a bag of nuts and cranberries I mixed myself and then put in the Ziplock snack bag, followed by snapping on a bag clip.
I started with a variety pack of bag sealing clips to try the sizes out, and then went back and ordered more 4″ clips as a good middle-of-the-road choice. For Christmas, I do a “mom’s favorite things” basket (kind of like Oprah) and am planning to give these to my kids (I’m a very practical mom!).
Why keep crackers in a refrigerator?
As I said, no judgement. There really are reasons that one would put crackers (or chips) in a refrigerator. With a quick thought fest, here are reasons I came up with:
- meat and cheese tray
- prepacked lunch
- keep pests away from crackers
Meat and cheese trays in refrigerators
Crackers are to meat and cheese trays as peanut butter is to jelly. If your food is served at a public event at a restaurant or food service, there are Food Services and Retail Establishments Codes & Regulations that have to be followed. If the food has been on a buffet, it has to be thrown away after the event.
If you purchase a meat and cheese tray for an event from a retailer, it’s up to you to uphold best safety food practices. This event could be a meet-and-greet at a company party, or a family baby shower. Regardless of the type of event, always be on guard for food safety.
For example, here are party food trays from a popular grocery store in Iowa, Fareway. They don’t put crackers on their trays. Best practice is to offer crackers on a separate tray or in a bowl.
If the buffet is for a get together with family and friends, the FDA has wonderful best practice advice for serving buffets safely.
The reality of homemade meat and cheese trays
I’ve made some food platters in my home, and have included crackers on the same plate. It’s informal. If the time gets late after guests leave and I get tired, I’ve been known to chuck the whole thing in the fridge. What do I get? Stale crackers in the fridge the next day.
What bothers me is the crackers touching the other food on the platter. How do I know that it didn’t touch a piece of meat? I get nervous, you should, too. The crackers in this case should be refrigerated to make sure they remain food safe. Cover the tray with plastic wrap to seal it to keep the air out, or slide into a jumbo size Ziplock bag.
I often throw disposable shopping bags over a big platter and close with a clothespin or bag sealing clip. I’m tired, remember?
Don’t forget to follow FDA guidelines for serving food in the home. They recommend how to chill the food and how many hours to allow the food to be out before it needs to be refrigerated.
A better approach is to always serve crackers in a separate bowl. After eating, put the crackers in a Ziplock bag or air-tight container to prevent them from going stale and losing their crispness. Do not put the crackers back in the original container.
Here are ideas for air-tight containers for crackers. Remember, even for daily use, once the crackers are pulled out of a sealed, plastic bag, they are exposed to air and will quickly go stale. Or use sealing bag clips, my new favorite way to easily seal opened bags. They work like a hair barrette, I love them and use them all the time.
The four-inch size covers most things. If you buy a variety back, some are really tiny! I found out those are specifically made for cracker sleeves!
Prepacked lunches in refrigerators
Many people put packed lunches the night before in a refrigerator. Whether for work or kids’ school lunches, this is a great time saver for busy mornings. You have two options, pack the crackers in the lunch bag that goes into the fridge, or add the crackers the next day (and risk forgetting them).
I would fall into the “forget to put them in” category. Invest in small, lunch-box size, air-tight containers for crackers. The beauty of these are that they are reusable.
Ziplock bags came out with snack-size bags, perfect to pack your lunch bag. I’ve found that these little bags are hard to seal. Since the key use is for brief use (not long-term freezer food storage) the seal is a little wimpy.
On a recent road trip, I was glad to have these sealing bag clips, my new favorite way to easily seal opened bags.
As mentioned earlier in the article, they work just like a hair barrette. Rather than mess with the delicate operation of trying to reseal the Ziplock snack-size bags, I just in a flash, close the snack bags with the bag clip.
Do Lunchables go stale in the fridge?
Funny, the first thing when pondering crackers going stale in the fridge was the thought of Lunchables®. You, know, the handy little, individually-packaged snack meals. These are the Lunchables® facts:
- crackers share the same container as meat and cheese
- the meat and cheese need to be refrigerated
Upon closer inspection, each compartment of Lunchables® is sealed on top of the dividing walls. I will add “super sealed” because I bought one and attempted to peel off the plastic – it put up a good fight. The resistance assured me that the seal was air-tight.
Lunchables® figured it out. We can mimic the same success in our daily lunch-packing routine. By using air-tight containers for crackers. bags with seals like Ziplock, or nifty gadgets like sealing bag clips, we can achieve an air-tight or close to air-tight seal.
Besides putting crackers in air-tight containers, we can opt to leave the crackers out of the fridge. Simply add them to the lunch bag in the morning. That works, too.
If you have multiple lunch bags to pack (for school lunches) every short cut counts. If you’re using a Ziplock bag, do your best to expel all of the air when sealing the crackers (or chips) in.
Keep pests out of crackers
The last reason to put crackers into a refrigerator is to keep pests out of them. Maybe you have a pantry moth problem, bugs, or mice. Until you get the pest issue under control, why not put them safely into the fridge where they will be sealed and protected?
Honestly, I’ve been a little sloppy in my food safety. This has been a good reminder to me of best practices when serving crackers in conjunction with other fresh food.
A few easy steps can assure enjoying crisp crackers later in your lunch or next day’s meal!