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New Year, New Food Storage

The New Year is here, and it’s time to go through your pantry and fridge for a total clear-out. From vintage vinegar to seven-year-old spices, it’s time to send out the old and bring in the new.

 Spices & Herbs 

Did you purchase a spice or dried herb for one specific dish, never to use it again? Now that the ingredient has been sitting cozy on your shelves, how do you know if it’s still good to season with? While spices and herbs don’t go bad per se, most begin to lose their flavor after two to three years. Whole spices that you grind yourself last longer because their aromatic oils have not been exposed to air. If your spices are no longer aromatic, it’s time to replace them. As a New Year’s resolution, make sure to write down the date that you purchased the spice on the bottom of the bottle. And, if it’s a spice you know you won’t use often, buy the smallest quantity you can.

 
Condiments 
Many of us accumulate a few too many condiments in the fridge over the course of the year. Before you toss out all your jars, it’s very important to understand the distinction between a “best-by date” and an “expiration date” when clearing out your fridge. A best-by date does not mean that as soon as that date passes, your food is no longer safe. It simply means its flavor is past its peak. So, if you’ve got mustard in your fridge with a best-by date that’s a few months past, it does not automatically mean it has to go. Give it a taste, and if it’s still good, keep it. However, if it’s over a year, you may want to toss it and re-up. 

 

Oils & Vinegar 
If you have a nice bottle of extra virgin olive oil in your pantry that you use sparingly for special occasions, it might not be so fresh anymore. Extra virgin olive oil is best within the first year of it being pressed. You can use it after that window, but the flavor will continue to dwindle. So, the next time you get a fancy bottle of olive oil, start using it! Vinegar is self-preserving, so it can last in your pantry for a while. Give it a whiff, and if it seems to smell good as new, go ahead and keep it! 

 

Baking Ingredients 
Sifting through your sugar and flour shelf can be confusing. Opened all-purpose flour can last in your pantry for about a year. Sugar is a little more lenient, as it can last in your pantry for at least two years. Baking soda and baking powder are best used within six months, as they are more effective the fresher they are.