How long do pantry staples really stay fresh?

pantry staples in kitchen pantry

We’re often told to stock our pantries with the ‘essentials’ – staple items we’ll need again and again such as flour, sugar, pasta and rice. We need these on hand because, theoretically, we’ll be using them regularly. But how long do these items really last?

With the holiday season upon us, kitchens all over Australia will be hives of activity. And ‘smart’ cooks will have a stockpile of staple items, saving them those annoying emergency trips to the supermarket. Staple pantry items tend to be longer-lasting products, but some last longer than others, while others can change in flavour or texture over time.

To get the best out of your essential pantry items, here are some general rules of thumb for the shelf life of goods, according to HGTV.

Read: How to clean an oven with pantry staples

Lasts indefinitely

It might surprise you to learn that there are some items in your pantry that will virtually last forever. Pure honey and maple syrup will keep, as will white rice and cornflour.

Sugar, salt and baking soda also fit into this category along with instant coffee (not fresh beans) and long-life UHT powdered milk.

Lasts up to two years

These items are very long-lasting but won’t last forever. Grains and grain products feature heavily here with dry pasta, oats and popping corn all examples of grains that will last up to two years given airtight conditions.

Most dried spices (chilli, paprika, turmeric, etc) will keep for two years, but dried herbs generally don’t last as long.

Read: Nutritionists reveal their pantry staples

Olive and vegetable oils will also keep for around two years, if stored correctly. Make sure to keep the bottle away light as that can degrade the oil more quickly.

One that might surprise you is bottled water, which will last this long if the bottle remains unopened.

Lasts up to one year

These items form a crucial part of your pantry stockpile but should be used within 12 months to be safe.

Brown rice will only last a year in a sealed container, unlike the white variety. While olive and oils in liquid form can last up to two years, when compressed into cooking spray they have a shelf life of around 12 months.

Most bottled condiments such as barbecue sauce, tomato sauce and mustard can last about a year if they remain unopened.

Read: Surprising uses for cornflour outside the kitchen

Lasts up to six months

Not lasting too long but just long enough to make themselves a pantry staple item are foodstuffs that can last up to six months.

This includes fresh produce such as nuts, which can last between three and six months if stored in an airtight container.

Most fruit juices, again if the bottle remains unopened, can last up to six months, making stocking up on juice worthwhile. Especially if it’s on sale.

Fresh coffee beans and tea leaves will also last a few months, although they do begin to lose flavour after a month or two.

What are your go-to pantry staple items? What else would you put on the list? Why not let us know in the comments section below?

Written by Brad Lockyer

Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.

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