Out With the Old, In With the New: How Long Your Pantry Staples Last

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To start 2017 off on a healthy note, first it’s out with the old! We’re applying this to our home kitchen, cleaning out old and expired foods in order to restock the pantry with the fresh and healthy. How long have those spices been in the back of your spice drawer? Are those bread crumbs still fresh? How often do you find the bottom of your flour jar? Read on to learn how long your staples will last.

Pantry:

  • Whole-grain flours: up to 3 months
  • Chocolate bars: 4 to 6 months (8 months in freezer)
  • Whole-grain rice (brown, red, or black): Up to 6 months (longer in refrigerator or freezer)
  • Bread crumbs: 6 months
  • Spirits: 6 to 8 months (opened bottles)
  • White flour: 6 to 9 months
  • Baking powder: 6 to 12 months
  • Ground Spices: 6 to 12 months
  • Olive oil: Up to 20 months
  • Canned goods: Up to 2 years
  • Dried pasta: Up to 2 years
  • Chocolate chips: up to 2 years
  • Baking soda: indefinitely
  • Milled rice (white, parboiled, pre-cooked): indefinitely

Interesting things to note: processed grains actually last longer than their whole-grain counterparts! This is because the husk and bran are removed, the living part of the grain that will go rancid with time. Same goes with whole grain vs. refined flour.

Also, unless you bake regularly, you probably have some baking powder that’s longer than a year old. To test the freshness of your baking powder, combine some hot water with a teaspoon of baking powder. If the powder fizzes, keep it; if not, toss it – it won’t have the desired chemical reaction in your baked goods.

Refrigerator:

  • White wine, recorked: 1 to 2 days
  • Hard-boiled eggs: 1 week
  • Cheese, soft, opened: 1 to 2 weeks
  • Cheese, soft, unopened: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Fresh eggs (in shell): 3 to 5 weeks
  • Olives and pickles: 1 month
  • Butter: 1 to 3 months
  • Cheese, hard: 6 months

To keep cheese fresher longer, it’s generally a good idea to wrap in wax paper or cheese paper first, and place in a slightly-open plastic bag. Bonus points if you label it with the date of purchase! Store cheese in the bottom vegetable drawer of your refrigerator or on a shelf farthest from the freezer.

Freezer:

  • Bacon: 1 month
  • Ice cream and sorbet: 2 months
  • Fatty fish: 2 to 3 months
  • Soups and stews: 2 to 3 months
  • Cookies, baked or dough: 3 months
  • Bread and cake: 3 months
  • Hamburger: 3 to 4 months
  • Shellfish, uncooked: 3 to 6 months
  • Chicken or turkey, cooked: 4 to 6 months
  • Lean fish: 6 months
  • Butter: 6 to 9 months
  • Steaks, uncooked: 6 to 12 months
  • Fruit: 6 to 12 months
  • Chicken or turkey pieces, uncooked: 9 months

Prevent freezer burn by minimizing the food’s exposure to air. Double-wrap meats and loaves of bread in plastic wrap, wax paper, or aluminum foil, then place in a container or plastic freezer bag. Store smaller items like sliced vegetables or soups in portion-sized containers or plastic bags so the food fills the container entirely with minimal extra space.


So, we encourage you to spend some time taking inventory of what’s in your pantry and refrigerator, and toss the old to make way to for new, fresh, wholesome ingredients. Learn how to read labels and which buzzwords to pay attention to here, and maybe reconsider which spices you really need in your pantry! While you’re at it, consider tossing out or donating the kitchen gadgets you never use and the kitchen sponge that’s gotten a little stinky.

From all of us at California Olive Ranch, we wish you a Happy New Year full of healthy meals!

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