Pantry Food Expiration Guide|Shelf Life of Kitchen Staples
If you're anything like me, you probably have a decent number of spices and herbs stashed around your kitchen. I mean, it's not like I don't want to store everything in the same general area, it's that sometimes others in my house use spices and don't put them back in the proper place.
So, when I'm looking for, I don't know, cumin, and think that we're out so I buy, I'm in for a surprise when I reach for something in the back of the pantry months later and discover that's where the cumin I thought we were out of was actually hiding.
If you've got "helpers" in your house, or if you've got a habit of buying in bulk or mass quantity (I mean, a bargain is a bargain, right?) and aren't sure what the actual shelf life is of your kitchen ingredients, this should help.
If the spices are unopened, they'll remain good for two to three. The spices aren't going to suddenly spoil or anything like that past the three-year mark, but after that amount of time, they won't be as flavorful.
Dried herbs basically have the same shelf live as spices, but really, anything older than three years old isn't going to give you much flavor.
The first thing I did after getting an electric pressure cooker was to buy a 50-pound bag of rice. I bought a tall airtight dog food storage container and put the rice in it and that's where it's lived for over a year and it still tastes perfectly fine. The beautiful thing about wild, white, jasmine and basmati rice is that it will keep forever. Just make sure to store it in an airtight container.
Ah! I was cleaning out my lazy Susan, which is where we store all of our baking ingredients and I found a bag of sugar that was nearly 10 years old. It had to be bad, right? Nope. Sugar, all forms of it, last forever. Keep little critters and moisture out by storing it in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.
If you find a great sale on salt, stock up because salt in all of its forms doesn't go bad. Store it in a cool, dry place.
This is such a big cooking staple for me and up until recently, I was storing it in the fridge. Not anymore. I recently learned that Worcestershire sauce doesn't need to be refridgerated. It'll last for three years in your pantry unopened and two years if you've broken the seal.
Remember how I told you I found that sugar that was like 10 years old? Yeah, I also found a huge bag of flour that was about the same age. Unlike sugar, flour will really only last for a year unopened, but you can extend the life after opening it for another year if you store it in the fridge or freezer. Just make sure to put it in a baggie.
We eat pasta way too often for it to sit too long on our pantry shelf, but if you've got a box that you haven't devoured and you're thinking maybe it might be bad, if it's less than three years and hasn't been opened, you're good.
God love him, my husband came upon a can sale and thought he was buying kidney beans (which I use a lot to make chili) but instead he bought pinto beans. 100 cans of pinto beans. Lucky for us, beans last for a really long time in the pantry, five years to be exact.
Whether or not your vanilla extract has been opened doesn't really matter. It'll stay good for about four years.