Turns out, they don’t last as long as we thought.
If you’ve been using the same can of baking powder for the past 4 years, then we have some news for you. The shelf life of many ingredients in the cupboard isn’t indefinite, in fact it’s not even as long as many people take for granted. So, this begs the question: how long do things actually last in the cupboard? Well, the answer varies depending on if you’ve opened the packages already.
According to the USDA Nebraska Cooperative Extension Service, many foods that have been opened have a shelf life that is reduced to 30% or less of the unopened shelf life potential. Read on to find out how long these items are actually supposed to last in your cupboard.
- Baking soda: unopened 6-18 months, opened 3-6 months
- Baking soda: unopened 2-3 years, opened 6 months
- Cake and baking mixes: unopened 12-18 months
- Dried herbs: 1-2 years
- Honey: 2 years
- Spices, ground: 2-3 years
- Spices, whole: 3-4 years
- Sugar (brown, powdered, or granulated): 18-24 months
- White flour: unopened 6-12 months, opened 6-8 months, freezing can extend this to 2 years
- Whole wheat flour: 3-6 months, freezing can extend this to 2 years
- Yeast: unopened 2 years or “use by date” on package, opened 4 months
- Bouillon cubes or powder: 1 year
- Canned goods, high acid: unopened 12-18 months or “use by date” provided cans are undamaged
- Canned goods, low acid acid: unopened 2-5 years or “use by date” provided cans are undamaged
- Oatmeal: unopened 12 months, opened 6-12 months
- Oil (vegetable or olive): unopened 6-12 months, opened 3-5 months
- Pasta (dried): 1-2 years
- Rice (brown): 1 year
- Rice (white):2 years
- Tomato sauce: unopened in cupboard 18 months, opened and refrigerated 4 days
- Vinegar: unopened 2 years, opened 1 year
- Boxed cereals (ready-to-eat): unopened 6- 12 months, opened 2-3 months
- Commercially canned meat, poultry or fish: unopened 2-5 years or “use by date”
- Cookies, homemade: 2-3 weeks
- Cookies, prepackaged: 2 months
- Dried fruit: unopened 6 months, opened 1 month
- Peanut butter: unopened 6-24 months, opened 2-3 months
- Popcorn kernels (jarred): unopened 2 years, opened 1 year
- Popcorn (microwave packets): 2-3 months
If you’ve been trying to make cakes with old baking ingredients or putting very old dried fruit or spices in your oatmeal, then the results can be less than spectacular. Have a good look through your pantry and cupboards and you’ll probably find that a lot of the food you thought was perfectly good is long past the window of freshness. Your cooking and baking will most certainly benefit from replacing these pantry staples.