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How to Store Pantry Items

Consult these storage techniques and guidelines* before cleaning out your pantry.

By Elizabeth Passarella
Bag of coffee beansJamie Chung   

Most of these items, once open, can be kept at room temperature in their original packaging in the pantry. Exceptions include baking goods in bags, such as flour, sugar, and cornmeal, which should be transferred to airtight containers as soon as you bring them home, and dry items, such as grains and rice, which should be transferred to airtight containers once open (see below). For items with active ingredients, like baking powder and yeast, follow the use-by dates.

Baking mixes
such as brownie and cake mixes
Pantry: 1½ years

Baking powder
Pantry: 6 months (unopened); until the use-by date (open)

Baking soda
Pantry: 1½ years (unopened); until the use-by date (open)
Note: If you keep baking soda in the refrigerator as a deodorizer, replace it in 1 month or by the use-by date if that comes first.

Beans, canned
See Can Cans Last Forever?

Beans, dried
2 years

Bread crumbs
Pantry: 6 months (dried); 2 months (panko)
Freezer: 6 months (dried and panko)
Note: Fresh bread crumbs should be kept in the freezer and will last for up to 6 months.

Broth, boxed and canned
Pantry: 5 years (unopened)
Refrigerator: 4 days (open)
Freezer: 3 months (open)

*Real Simple consulted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), food scientists, food manufacturers, and a host of other experts—including fishmongers, cheese sellers, coffee roasters, bakers, and bartenders—to establish these storage guidelines. The first consideration was safety. But because you want your food to be delicious, too, for some products, Real Simple chose the conservative storage time for optimum freshness.

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