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Are the Spices in Your Kitchen Too Old?

 


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For many people, the start of spring and fall mean a thorough cleaning of their home - both inside and out. Often, this includes cleaning and organizing areas like the basement, garage, spare bedroom, etc. But what about the kitchen?

Spring or fall cleaning is an excellent time to do some organizing and clean-up of many different areas of your kitchen. Getting rid of extra storage containers, or orphan lids, cracked or chipped plates and glasses, over-used cookie sheets, etc. is just one way to clean up your act in the kitchen.

But what about the food in your cupboards? This is the perfect time to take a look at what is in your cupboards, and to determine whether you should save it, toss it, or relocate it to a more appropriate area of your kitchen.

Many of the standard pantry items have a freshness shelf life, and often the container lasts in the cupboard much longer than that time frame. Here are some suggestions on shelf life, and the best place to store these food items:

Baking Powder

  • Good for 12 - 18 months, or until the date listed on the container.
  • Store tightly covered in a dry location.

Baking Soda

  • Good for 12 - 18 months, or until the date listed on the container.
  • Store tightly covered in a dry location.

Shortening

  • Good for 3 - 8 months if opened, or 8 - 12 months if unopened.
  • Store in a tightly closed container in a cool, dark place. If stored too long, shortening will go rancid and smell funny. Smell it before using it in a recipe.

Canned Foods

  • Good for 1 - 2 years.
  • Don't store open cans in the refrigerator - they'll develop a funny odor from the can.

Popcorn (not microwave varieties)

  • Good for 2 years.
  • Store tightly closed in a cool place, but not in the refrigerator.

Herbs and Spices

  • 1 year for herbs or ground spices, 2 years for whole spices (like cloves).
  • Store in a tightly covered container in a cool, dark place. Avoid storing above or beside appliances. If there's no smell or aroma, toss it - it's lost its potency.

White Flour

  • 6 - 12 months
  • Store in a cool dry place, or store in the refrigerator. Allow refrigerated flour time to return to room temperature before using in baked goods.

Whole Wheat Flour

  • 1 - 3 months at room temperature. 6 months in refrigerator, up to 1 year in the freezer.
  • Allow refrigerated / frozen flour time to return to room temperature before using in baked goods.

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