Spring is upon us, which means it’s time for everyone’s favorite chore: spring-cleaning! Time to open those windows, air out your house, clean out the closet and inside all those nooks and crannies that have been gathering dust all winter long.
This spring, why not focus on an often forgotten and ignored place that could be in much need of an overhaul—your pantry! Bags of flour and bottles of spices have been on those shelves for who knows how long, and it is time to get organized and clear it out.
Generally speaking, if taken care of properly, most pantry items have a very long shelf life. Proper storage of these items can really save you money in the long run.
First invest in some airtight containers of different sizes; glass or plastic will work fine. If you don’t want to buy containers, simply transferring items to plastic zip bags can work to.
Secondly, find something with which to label your ingredients, such as a label maker, sharpie marker, or a pen and some masking tape. Properly storing and labeling your pantry items will allow you to know how old they are and keep them fresher longer.
Clear It Out
Now you are ready to clear out and clean up. Throw away any items that you know have been there way too long, and check the expiration dates. Throw away anything that is past its date. Next, transfer items into containers and label them. Voila! You instantly have a neat and organized pantry.
Follow these guidelines below for common household pantry items:
Flour: Typically lasts up to 8 months in an airtight container. If you know you won’t use it for longer than that, then store it in the freezer.
Sugars: Sugars last indefinitely when stored properly in an airtight container. Brown sugar may get hard, but this can be remedied by putting it in a baggy overnight with a slice of bread.
Baking soda and baking powder: Often has a best if used by date, but it should be transferred into an airtight container.
Whole Spices: Last 2-3 years in an airtight container. Be sure to label them with the date.
Leafy herbs: Last up to a year. Shake the jar and smell them. If they still smell potent, keep them.
Ground Spices: Last up to 2 years. Smell for potency to see if they still have flavor.
Flavored Extracts: Last up to 4 years.
Oils: Smell the oil. If any seem rancid, toss them.
Nuts and seeds: Smell or taste them. If they seem rancid, throw them away. Also, if you like to have them on hand but don’t use them often, these store better in the freezer.
Now you can move onto the refrigerator and freezer!