Kate's Cuisine

Jun 14 2009

Shelf Lives of Common Items

It’s easy to turn over a carton of sour cream or milk and check out the expiry date. But what about those noodles or flour in your pantry? Dry goods, although they certainly last much longer than fresh food, certainly have a shelf life and although it may be longer, it’s certainly not unlimited. Here are some common items and the shelf lives you might not have even known they have!

Flour: A bag of flour left unopened will keep for up to a year. But always mark your bag after you open it because it will only keep 6-8 months after that.

Sugar: A bag of sugar that is not open will keep its same flavour for 2 years. Sugar doesn’t go bad but the flavour of it can change.

Brown sugar: Brown sugar is only white sugar that’s had molasses added to it. Because of this, brown sugar still hardly ever goes bad but it does change flavour, and it does happen much faster than white sugar. A bag of unopened brown sugar will only stay good for 4 months.

Confectioners sugar: Good news for bakers! Confectioners sugar, or icing sugar, will keep its delicate and light flavour for 18 months if left unopened.

Solid shortening: Shortening that’s not opened will keep for 8 months. Once opened though, it only has 3 months.

Cocoa: Cocoa is one ingredient that really can sit on your shelf unopened forever and not go bad. And even once you open it, it still has a year before it will start to change.

Baking Soda: Baking soda has 18 months on the shelf if unopened. It will expire after 6 months once it’s opened.

Baking Powder: Baking powder is much more delicate than baking soda. Perhaps this is why powder only stays good for 6 months unopened and only 3 months once it’s been opened.

Cornstarch: Cornstarch usually has 18 months if not opened and about 12 if it has been.

Dry Pasta/no egg: 2 years if not opened, one year if it is opened.

Dry Egg Noodles: Because of the egg in them, these noodles will expire quite quickly once the package has been opened. They only have 2-3 months. However, they can remain unopened in their package for 1-2 years.

Salad Dressing: Think all those bottles will last until you use them up? Once opened salad dressing actually has a pretty short life – only 3 months. They can keep unopened on your pantry shelf for a year usually though.

Honey: Honey goes bad within a year. This is true whether it has been opened or not.

Jams, Jellies, and Preserves: Kept in the pantry, these items will usually last 2 years. Once they are open however, they’ll only stick around for about 6 months.

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