It’s not often you can get away with forgetting about an item in your pantry or refrigerator without it expiring. So, if you tend to purchase and forget as I do, you can rely on these items and foods that never go bad or almost never expire.
Make a mental note that these items either won’t ever expire, or have a shelf-life of more than 10 years (when sealed in airtight containers).
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1. Pure maple syrup can be frozen to prolong its shelf life.
Unopened maple syrup can last a very long time in cool, dry places. Although pure maple syrup doesn’t actually freeze, it won’t expire when placed in the freezer. Once opened, store your syrup in the fridge and it’ll still last more than a year.
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2. Cornstarch kept dry can be used indefinitely.
Cornstarch is safe to use for an unlimited period if you keep it dry in a dark place, preferably a pantry. Make sure to always seal the lid and it should keep.
3. Tea stored in a dark, cool place will never go to waste.
Tea keeps when stored properly in dark, cool, sealed conditions; however, all teas will lose their flavor over time. If you’re drinking tea for its health benefits, like green tea, it’s recommended you drink it within six months. But black tea stored under optimal conditions can last up to three years before it’s considered stale or expired.
High-quality tea can last even longer. It’s nice to note that loose-leaf teas have a greater chance of retaining their flavor over time than tea bags, due to the difference in leaf size. The more broken up tea leaves get, the more oxygen they’re exposed to, which also exposes tea to unpleasant flavors.
4. Instant coffee that’s stored in the freezer won’t expire for decades.
When sealed tightly and put in the freezer, instant coffee can last up to 20 years before tasting expired. Coffee beans last up to nine months, and ground coffee beans can last no more than a few months past their expiration date before they lose their flavor.
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5. Food coloring doesn’t expire, but the color may change.
Food coloring doesn’t really expire, because it doesn’t contain raw ingredients. Like all food items, it has to have a labeled expiration date, but that doesn’t mean food coloring isn’t safe to consume beyond that date. So go ahead and use those back-of-the-cabinet food colors for your cookies or homemade play dough. Just keep in mind the color may be different and the consistency changed if you’ve had them for a while.
6. Pure vanilla extract doesn’t go bad.
Does vanilla extract go bad? Not if it’s pure! Vanilla extract has to be pure for it to last infinitely. You will only get two to four years out of the imitation versions. To prevent vanilla extract from expiring too soon, store it away from light and heat.
7. Ghee butter won’t go bad if you keep it away from your stove.
Avoid storing your jar of ghee next to the stove. Olive oil and coconut oil may both be perishable, but ghee, known as clarified butter, can be used for an unlimited time as cooking oil, provided the jar stays free of water and steam.
8. Vinegar of all kinds may taste different if kept for years, but it won’t expire.
If the cap is sealed, all types of vinegar can be kept indefinitely, but when it comes to cooking, the acidic flavor may change over the years.
- Balsamic vinegar can last for unlimited periods, but it’s best to use it within three to four years.
- Apple cider vinegar is best used within five years of opening.
- Red and white wine is guaranteed two years, as is rice vinegar.
- White vinegar, on the other hand, can always be used for cooking or cleaning.
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9. Vodka and other hard liquors can be enjoyed for years.
Most hard liquors, tequila, and whiskey, for example, have an indefinite shelf life. However, manufacturers recommend you use them within a year or two of opening for the best quality.
Not cream liqueur, though! Baileys and other Irish Creams have a two-year guarantee, but should be taste-tested before served. To keep the nice crisp taste of cream liqueur, keep them chilled in the refrigerator.
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10. Honey never expires and will last for centuries.
Honey is so stable, experts have found it still edible after being stored in tombs for thousands of years. Although you may not find centuries-old honey appetizing, if your jar has sat around for a while and started to crystallize, just warm it up and enjoy.
11. Soy sauce has indefinite shelf life if kept unopened.
Unopened, this fermented condiment’s shelf life is indefinite if stored in a cool, dark area like a pantry. Since soy sauce is fermented and is high in sodium, it won’t go bad if left unopened. Even after opening, soy sauce won’t expire for about three years if kept in the fridge.
12. Bouillon cubes won’t expire for a decade if you put them in the freezer.
A great substitute when making broths and soups, bouillon cubes can keep for more than two years once opened. Store them in an airtight container in your fridge and they can keep for another 18 months. Unopened or frozen they could last for more than a decade, but by then you might find the flavor lacking!
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13. Powered milk will never go bad when stored in the freezer.
According to the USDA, powdered milk can be stored indefinitely, and you can use it in baking or in your bread maker. Unfortunately, oat milk and almond milk can expire, as can other dairy products like milk, butter, and yogurt. Keep your powdered milk in a cool place or the freezer to last forever.
14. Baking powder can be used for cleaning long after its expiration date.
Baking soda may lose its potency over time for baking, but it’ll always work as a household cleaner. Its unopened shelf life is two years for baking purposes, and it lasts six months once opened. The good thing is baking soda is relatively inexpensive, so we can bake and clean away!
15. Store dried beans in an airtight container for three years or more.
We’ve always heard of dried beans lasting awhile, but do dried beans go bad, like ever? When stored properly in an air-tight container, dried beans can last more than three years, and are best eaten two to three years after drying. Once they pass that date, they may not be able to soften once soaked.
16. Brown or white rice can be frozen to extend its shelf life.
Kept dry in a storage container, white rice can last up to at least one year, brown rice, six months. Instead, place uncooked white or brown rice in their original packaging inside a zip bag or in vacuum-sealed bags, and freeze for up to two years. To defrost, just place the rice in the fridge or run the package under cold water. Just make sure no moisture gets into the container — this could cause gross and unhealthy bacteria growth.
17. Bottled water will outlast anything in your cupboard, despite expiration date.
Manufacturers have to put expiration dates on bottled water as indicators of quality — not safety. Even if its appearance or taste changes, the FDA claims bottled water is still safe to drink despite expiration date.
18. High-quality wines will last for years.
Aging is usually a red wine game, but some Chardonnays can last two to seven years depending on the quality. Today, all cheaper wines are made to be immediately opened, so make sure to drink them within two to three years, and buy them with a wine coupon to save even more.
As for champagne, expensive bottles can last five to ten years, while non-vintage bottles last three to four years. Once opened, champagne goes bad after two to four days.
19. Sugar won’t expire as long as it’s protected from moisture.
As long as you keep sugar away from water, it won’t go bad. With time, the texture will change and become a little stiff. To soften brown sugar, try breaking it apart or applying light heat. Store sugars in airtight containers, and drop a few marshmallows in to keep it from clumping.
20. Spices and seasonings stored in cool, dark places won’t expire for years.
Seasonings and their spices don’t go bad — they just won’t flavor your food as well. The best place to store spices and seasonings is in a cool, dark place like a pantry. Red spices like cayenne and paprika should be stored in the refrigerator — they’ll keep their flavor and color longer that way.
I make it a rule to replace my whole spices every four years, ground spices every three to four years, and leafy herbs every one to two years. Salt, on the other hand, can last forever. But make sure to look for the non-iodized variety, or it’ll only last for about five years.
21. Vitamins can be taken well past their “best by” date.
Although multivitamins potency is reduced after two years, they still retain about 90% of their daily value! Something to keep in mind when making your next vitamin purchase.
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22. Buckwheat and other hard grains will last for 12 years or more.
Placed in airtight, sealed containers, buckwheat, dry corn, Kamut, hard red wheat, soft white wheat, millet, durum wheat, and spelt have (at least) a 10-12 year shelf life before they expire.