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The Shelf Life of Pantry Foods

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insideofpantry.jpg

Inside of Pantry

Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Learn how long foods stay fresh in the pantry, and you'll know just how much to stock up on, and when it's time to replace key ingredients like baking powder and spices.

The following chart lists the shelf life of common pantry staples. Print a copy for your records, and keep it in the kitchen for quick reference:

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Ingredient Shelf Life Resources
Baking Supplies    
Baking powder 18 months How to Make Baking Powder
Baking soda 2 years How to Tell If Baking Soda is Still Good
Chocolate, baking 6-12 months  
Chocolate chips, semi-sweet 2 years  
Chocolate chips, milk chocolate 16 months  
Cocoa 1 year  
Corn meal 6-12 months  
Corn starch 18 months  
Cream of tartar 2-3 years  
Flour, all-purpose 6-8 months  
Flour, self-rising 6-8 months How to Make Self-Rising Flour
Flour, wheat 6-8 months  
Honey Indefinitely  
Milk, evaporated 1 year How to Make Evaporated Milk
Milk, powdered 1 year  
Milk, sweetened condensed 1 year How to Make Sweetened Condensed Milk
Molasses 2 years  
Nuts, shelled 4 months  
Nuts, unshelled 6 months  
Oil, canola 2 years unopened, 1 year opened  
Oil, olive 6 months  
Oil, vegetable spray two years  
Salt Indefinitely  
Sugar, brown Indefinitely How to Soften Hard Brown Sugar
Sugar, granulated Indefinitely  
Sugar, powdered Indefinitely How to Make Powdered Sugar
Vanilla extract (imitation) 3 years  
Vanilla extract (real) Indefinitely How to Make Vanilla Extract
Yeast follow expiration date on package How to Proof Yeast
Herbs & Spices (dried and ground)    
Allspice 2-3 years  
Basil 1-3 years  
Bay leaves 1-3 years  
Black pepper 2-3 years  
Chili powder 2-3 years  
Cinnamon sticks 3-4 years  
Cinnamon, ground 2-3 years  
Cloves, ground 2-3 years  
Coriander seed 3-4 years  
Coriander, ground 2-3 years  
Cumin 2-3 years  
Dill 1-3 years  
Dry mustard 2-3 years  
Garlic (minced) 2 years, unopened  
Garlic (whole) 3-4 months  
Garlic powder 2-3 years  
Ginger, ground 2-3 years  
Marjoram 1-3 years  
Nutmeg 2-3 years  
Onion powder 2-3 years  
Oregano 1-3 years  
Parsley 1-3 years  
Rosemary 1-3 years  
Sage 1-3 years  
Savory 1-3 years  
Thyme 1-3 years  
Dried Goods    
Beans, dried 1 year Dried Bean Cooking Times
Cereal 6-12 months unopened, 2-3 months opened  
Dried fruit (raisins, apricots, etc.) 6-12 months  
Jerky, commercial packaged 12 months  
Jerky, homemade 1-2 months  
Lentils 1 year  
Oatmeal 1 year  
Canned & Jarred Goods    
Applesauce 12-18 months  
Beans, canned 2-5 years  
Broth, beef 2-5 years  
Broth, chicken 2-5 years  
Broth, vegetable 2-5 years  
Canned fruit 12-18 months  
Canned meats (tuna, salmon, chicken, etc.) 2-5 years  
Home-canned foods 12 months  
Pumpkin puree 12-18 months  
Soup (except tomato) 2-5 years  
Soup, tomato 12-18 months  
Tomato paste 12-18 months  
Tomato sauce 12-18 months  
Tomatoes, crushed 12-18 months  
Tomatoes, stewed 12-18 months  
Tomatoes, sun-dried (oil-packed) 12-18 months  
Tomatoes, whole 12-18 months  
Pasta & Grains    
Cookies, packaged 2 months  
Crackers 8 months  
Pasta 2 years  
Popcorn 2 years  
Pretzels/Chips 2 months  
Rice, basmati 2 years  
Rice, brown 6 months  
Rice, jasmine 2 years  
Rice, white 2 years  
Rice, wild 6 months  
Condiments    
Barbeque sauce 1 year  
Hot sauce 5 years unopened  
Jam 2 years  
Jelly 2 years  
Ketchup 1 year  
Maple syrup, artificial 1 year  
Maple syrup, real 1 year unopened  
Mayonnaise 3-4 months after package date  
Mustard 2 years  
Peanut butter 6-9 months unopened, 3 months opened  
Pickles 1 year  
Salad dressing 12-18 months  
Salsa 12-18 months  
Soy sauce 3 years unopened  
Vinegar, apple cider Best used in 2 years, safe indefinitely  
Vinegar, balsamic Best used in 3 years, safe indefinitely  
Vinegar, malt Best used in 2 years, safe indefinitely  
Vinegar, red wine Best used in 2 years, safe indefinitely  
Vinegar, rice Best used in 2 years, safe indefinitely  
Vinegar, white Indefinitely  
Vinegar, white wine Best used in 2 years, safe indefinitely  
Worcestershire sauce 1 year  
Drinks    
Coffee, ground and vacuum-packed 1 year unopened, 1-2 weeks opened  
Coffee beans (roasted). Not vacuum-packed 1-3 weeks  
Coffee, freshly ground 1-2 weeks  
Coffee, instant 1 year unopened, 2-3 months opened  
Iced tea mix 3 years unopened, 6-12 months opened  
Juice boxes 4-6 months  
Juice, bottled or canned 12 months  
Soda 3 months after expiration date  
Tea, in bags 18 months unopened, 1 year opened  
Tea, loose 2 years unopened, 6-12 months opened  
Water, bottled 1-2 years  
© Erin Huffstetler FrugalLiving.About.com    

Sources: USDA, FDA, Virginia Cooperative Extension, UK Cooperative Extension Service

See Also:

  1. About.com
  2. Money
  3. Frugal Living
  4. Food Savings
  5. Grocery Savings
  6. Stockpiling
  7. The Shelf Life of Pantry Foods

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