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

Jamie 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
Pantry:
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.

Cereal
Pantry: 1 year (unopened); 3 months (open)

Chocolate, bar for baking
Pantry: 6 months

Chocolate chips
Pantry: 1 year

Cocoa
Pantry: Indefinitely (unopened); 1 year (open)

Coconut, shredded
Pantry: 1 year (unopened)
Freezer: 6 months (open)

Coffee, beans
Pantry: 1 year (unopened can); 4 months (unopened vacuum-packed bag); 2 weeks (open)
Note: Do not keep coffee beans in the refrigerator or freezer. Condensation and odors from other foods can damage the flavor.

Coffee, ground
Pantry: 1 year (unopened can); 4 months (unopened vacuum-packed bag); 1 week (open)
Note: Do not keep ground coffee in the refrigerator or freezer. Condensation and odors from other foods can damage the flavor.

Cornmeal
Pantry: 1 year (unopened and open)
Refrigerator: 1 year (unopened and open)

Cornstarch
Pantry: Indefinitely if kept in a dry place

Corn syrup
Pantry: 3 years

Dried fruits
Pantry: 6 months (unopened); 1 month (open)

Flour, white
Pantry: 1 year

Flour, whole-wheat
Pantry: 1 month
Refrigerator: 6 months
Freezer: 2 years

Grains
Pantry: 6 months
Note: Keep unprocessed whole grains, such as wheat berries and hulled barley, in the pantry for 1 month or freezer for 6 months.

Grits
Pantry: 1 year

Herbs, dried
Pantry: 2 years

Oats
Pantry: 6 months

Pancake and biscuit mixes
Pantry: 15 months

Pasta, dried
Pantry: 2 years
Note: Fresh pasta will keep for 2 days in the refrigerator and 2 months in the freezer.

Popcorn, kernels
Pantry: 2 years (unopened); 1 year (open)

Popcorn, microwave packs
Pantry: 1 year

Rice, brown
Pantry: 1 year (unopened); 6 months (open)

Rice, white
Pantry: 2 years (unopened); 1 year (open)

Rice, wild
Pantry: 2 years (unopened); 1 year (open)

Shortening, can
Pantry: 1 year (unopened); 1 year (open; in a cool, dark place)

Spices
Pantry: 3 years (whole, such as nutmeg and cloves); 2 years (ground)

Sugar, brown
Pantry: 4 months (tightly wrapped)

Sugar, confectioners’
Pantry: Indefinitely if kept in a dry place (unopened); 2 years (open)

Sugar, granulated
Pantry: Indefinitely

Sugar substitutes
such as Splenda and Equal
Pantry: 2 years

Tomatoes, canned
See Can Cans Last Forever?

Vanilla, pure extract
Pantry: Indefinitely

Yeast, active
Pantry: Until the use-by date (unopened)
Refrigerator: 4 months in an airtight container or until use-by date if that comes first (open)

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