Many years ago I came across this article, kept it and I have been using it ever since. Now, I want to share it with you. Often times we have no idea about the shelf life of a product and to play it safe we just trash it. There is so much food wasted in our country, such a sad fact. Please read it and use it at your convenience. It has helped me to check my expiration dates more frequently.
Expiration dates on Assorted Products:
According to the Food Marketing Institute, “While dates are printed on many food products, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to discard that product once that date has expired. A calendar date may be stamped on a product's package to help the store determine how long to display the product for sale. It is not a safety date." There are several types of dates:
Sell-by date - tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
Best if Used By (or Before) - recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
Use-By - the last date recommended for the use of product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
Closed or Coded Dates - packing numbers for use by the manufacturer in tracking their products. This enables manufacturers to rotate their stock as well as locate their products in the event of a recall.
For more information on product safety and to find the shelf life of a food item not specified here, visit the Food Marketing Institute.
Butter: In the Freezer: 4 months Butter absorbs flavors so it should be stored away from any strong odors and in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Check your butter's freshness by cutting off a small slice. If the outside is a darker color than the inside, the butter has oxidized and should be replaced.
Baking Powder/Soda On the Shelf: 6 Months
Store in a dry place. Leavening agents lose potency quicker than most manufacturer claims so replace baking powder and soda regularly.
EggsIn the Shell: 3 to 5 Weeks
Hard cooked: 1 week refrigerated.
Keep eggs in the carton, which holds in moisture and protects against the strong odors of other foods nearby.
Bottled Salad Dressing Unopened: 10 to 12 months
Opened: 3 months (refrigerated)
Once opened, salad dressings should be kept in the refrigerator.
Flour All Purpose: 6 to 12 months
Whole Wheat: 6 to 8 months in the refrigerator, 1 year in the freezer
All-purpose flour should be transferred to an airtight container to protect it against humidity. Whole wheat flour should be transferred to a zipper-lock bag and stored in the freezer.
Honey On the Shelf: 1 year
Don't store your honey in the refrigerator as it can cause it to crystallize. If it does, fill a pan with water, open the jar and heat it until it reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
Olive Oil Unopened: 1 year
Opened: 3 months
Don't buy olive oil in bulk; once opened, it has a very short shelf life. Be sure to keep all oils away from the heat and areas with sunlight to prevent spoilage.
Other Oils: Replace the following oils six months after opening: canola, corn, peanut, vegetable, sesame and walnut. Sesame and walnut oils should be stored in the refrigerator.
Soy Sauce On the Shelf: 1 year
Pasteurized soy sauce, which is the most common type sold in stores, should be stored in the pantry. Unpasteurized soy sauce should be stored in the refrigerator.
Spices Whole Spices: 1 to 2 years
Ground Spices and Dried Herbs: 6 months
It's better to buy spices in smaller quantities, so don't buy more than you need. Store your spices in glass jars in a cool, dark place.
Sugar,Granulated Sugar: 2 years
Brown Sugar: 4 months
Confectioners' Sugar: 18 months
Store granulated, brown and confectioners' sugars in airtight containers.
Vinegars Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 12 months
Color changes and the development of haze or sediment doesn't mean the vinegar isn't good. "The product can still be used and enjoyed with confidence," the Vinegar Institutes says.
Chocolate Unsweetened and Dark Chocolate: 18 Months
Milk and White Chocolate: 6 Months
Don't store chocolate in the refrigerator. The cold can cause chocolate to sweat when brought to room temperature and alter its ability to melt properly.
Vanilla Extract Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 1 to 2 years (if properly stored)
Vanilla extract should be tightly sealed and stored at room temperature, according to Nielsen Massey Vanillas.
Maple Syrup, Glass Container: 1 year (refrigerated)
Plastic Container: 3 to 4 months (refrigerated)
Maple syrup should be refrigerated to ensure freshness (even if the bottle hasn't been opened). You can also freeze maple syrup to extend its life.
Canned Fruits and Vegetables Unopened Vegetables: 2 to 5 years
Unopened Fruits: 12 to 18 months
Cool and dark storage conditions will increase the shelf life of your canned goods. Never use cans that are leaking or badly dented as they may be tainted with botulism.
ABOUT THE Author
I am a blogger, a photographer, a jewelry designer, a gourmet cook, and a recipe book writer. I am also a flea market flipper, an avid gardener, an interior/ outdoors designer, an avid golfer and traveler.