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The Shelf Life of Pantry Foods

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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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IngredientShelf LifeResources
Baking Supplies  
Baking powder18 monthsHow to Make Baking Powder
Baking soda2 yearsHow to Tell If Baking Soda is Still Good
Chocolate, baking6-12 months 
Chocolate chips, semi-sweet2 years 
Chocolate chips, milk chocolate16 months 
Cocoa1 year 
Corn meal6-12 months 
Corn starch18 months 
Cream of tartar2-3 years 
Flour, all-purpose6-8 months 
Flour, self-rising6-8 monthsHow to Make Self-Rising Flour
Flour, wheat6-8 months 
HoneyIndefinitely 
Milk, evaporated1 yearHow to Make Evaporated Milk
Milk, powdered1 year 
Milk, sweetened condensed1 yearHow to Make Sweetened Condensed Milk
Molasses2 years 
Nuts, shelled4 months 
Nuts, unshelled6 months 
Oil, canola2 years unopened, 1 year opened 
Oil, olive6 months 
Oil, vegetable spraytwo years 
SaltIndefinitely 
Sugar, brownIndefinitelyHow to Soften Hard Brown Sugar
Sugar, granulatedIndefinitely 
Sugar, powderedIndefinitelyHow to Make Powdered Sugar
Vanilla extract (imitation)3 years 
Vanilla extract (real)IndefinitelyHow to Make Vanilla Extract
Yeastfollow expiration date on package How to Proof Yeast
Herbs & Spices (dried and ground)  
Allspice2-3 years 
Basil1-3 years 
Bay leaves1-3 years 
Black pepper2-3 years 
Chili powder2-3 years 
Cinnamon sticks3-4 years 
Cinnamon, ground2-3 years 
Cloves, ground2-3 years 
Coriander seed3-4 years 
Coriander, ground2-3 years 
Cumin2-3 years 
Dill1-3 years 
Dry mustard2-3 years 
Garlic (minced)2 years, unopened 
Garlic (whole)3-4 months 
Garlic powder2-3 years 
Ginger, ground2-3 years 
Marjoram1-3 years 
Nutmeg2-3 years 
Onion powder2-3 years 
Oregano1-3 years 
Parsley1-3 years 
Rosemary1-3 years 
Sage1-3 years 
Savory1-3 years 
Thyme1-3 years 
Dried Goods  
Beans, dried1 yearDried Bean Cooking Times
Cereal6-12 months unopened, 2-3 months opened 
Dried fruit (raisins, apricots, etc.) 6-12 months 
Jerky, commercial packaged12 months 
Jerky, homemade1-2 months 
Lentils1 year 
Oatmeal1 year 
Canned & Jarred Goods   
Applesauce12-18 months 
Beans, canned2-5 years 
Broth, beef2-5 years 
Broth, chicken2-5 years 
Broth, vegetable2-5 years 
Canned fruit12-18 months 
Canned meats (tuna, salmon, chicken, etc.) 2-5 years 
Home-canned foods12 months 
Pumpkin puree12-18 months 
Soup (except tomato)2-5 years 
Soup, tomato12-18 months 
Tomato paste12-18 months 
Tomato sauce12-18 months 
Tomatoes, crushed12-18 months 
Tomatoes, stewed12-18 months 
Tomatoes, sun-dried (oil-packed)12-18 months 
Tomatoes, whole12-18 months 
Pasta & Grains   
Cookies, packaged2 months 
Crackers 8 months 
Pasta2 years 
Popcorn2 years 
Pretzels/Chips2 months 
Rice, basmati2 years 
Rice, brown6 months 
Rice, jasmine2 years 
Rice, white2 years 
Rice, wild6 months 
Condiments   
Barbeque sauce1 year 
Hot sauce5 years unopened 
Jam2 years 
Jelly2 years 
Ketchup1 year 
Maple syrup, artificial1 year 
Maple syrup, real1 year unopened 
Mayonnaise3-4 months after package date 
Mustard2 years 
Peanut butter 6-9 months unopened, 3 months opened 
Pickles1 year 
Salad dressing12-18 months 
Salsa12-18 months 
Soy sauce3 years unopened 
Vinegar, apple ciderBest used in 2 years, safe indefinitely 
Vinegar, balsamicBest used in 3 years, safe indefinitely 
Vinegar, maltBest used in 2 years, safe indefinitely 
Vinegar, red wineBest used in 2 years, safe indefinitely 
Vinegar, riceBest used in 2 years, safe indefinitely 
Vinegar, whiteIndefinitely 
Vinegar, white wineBest used in 2 years, safe indefinitely 
Worcestershire sauce1 year 
Drinks   
Coffee, ground and vacuum-packed1 year unopened, 1-2 weeks opened 
Coffee beans (roasted). Not vacuum-packed1-3 weeks 
Coffee, freshly ground1-2 weeks 
Coffee, instant1 year unopened, 2-3 months opened 
Iced tea mix3 years unopened, 6-12 months opened 
Juice boxes4-6 months 
Juice, bottled or canned 12 months 
Soda3 months after expiration date 
Tea, in bags18 months unopened, 1 year opened 
Tea, loose2 years unopened, 6-12 months opened 
Water, bottled1-2 years 
© Erin Huffstetler FrugalLiving.About.com  

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

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