Time now to update cupboard
Published 4:22 pm Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Have you looked -really looked - at the foods in your kitchen cupboards lately? Is it time to bid some foods a fond farewell? Should others be moved to a better location and/or storage container? Can you “revive” some aging foods so they still can be used? Read on for tips to help you decide whether to toss, move or try to save common kitchen cupboard foods.
Storing Kitchen Cupboard Foods
The following storage tips are based on food stored at a room temperature of about 70 degrees. The times are those generally cited for maintaining best food quality. A range of times and the more conservative recommendations are given to allow for age of the product when purchased, how long it has been open, etc. Read lablels carefully - they often contain important storage information and recommended “use by” dates.
Baking Powder – 12 to 18 months or expiration date on container.
Storage Tip: Store tightly covered in a dry place. Make sure measuring utensils are dry before dipping into the container.
Testing for Freshness: Mix 1 teaspoon baking powder with one-third cup hot water. If it foams vigorously, it still has rising power.
Baking Soda – 12 to 18 months or expiration date on container
Storage Tip: Store tightly covered in a dry place. Make sure measuring utensils are dry before dipping them into the container.
Testing for Freshness: Place one and one-half teaspoons in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar. If it fizzes, then it will still help leaven a food. If it doesn't fizz, use it as an odor catcher in the refrigerator.
Canned Foods – 1 to 2 years
Storage Tip #1: The Canned Food Alliance mealtime.org recommends eating canned food within 2 years of processing for best quality. Many cans will include a “for best quality use by” date stamped somewhere on the can. In a well run and busy store there should be a fairly constant turnover of canned goods, with cans on the shelf only a short time before you purchase them, according to the Canned Food Alliance. Some products contain a code, which varies among companies, that identifies the production date. If you have a concern over how old a food is, call the company's toll-free number (if listed on the can) or write to the address on the can.
Storage Tip #2: Avoid refrigerating opened canned foods in their can. Food can develop an off-odor from the can, once opened.
Honey – 12 months
Storage Tip: Honey stores best at room temperature. It tends to crystallize more rapidly, a natural process in which its liquid turns solid, in the refrigerator
Revitalizing Crystallized Honey: The National Honey Board recommends revitalizing crystallized honey by placing the jar n warm water and stirring the honey unstill the crystals dissolve.
White Flour – 6 to 12 months
Storage Tip #1: Store in a cool, dry place. It's important to store flour in an airtight container or freezer bag to preserve the flour's moisture content. Exposure to low or high humidity will affect the flour's moisture content and may influence the outcome of a recipe.
Storage Tip #2: For longer storage, keep white flours in the refrigerator in an airtight container. All-purpose and bread flour will keep up to two years at 40 F in your refrigerator, according to the Wheat Foods Council www.wheatfoods.org. They can be stored indefinitely in the freezer.
Storage Tip #3: As a general rule, if measuring flour from refrigerated or frozen flour, allow your measured portion to come to room temperature before using it in baked goods. Remove the flour for your recipe a few hours before use, so it doesn't affect the action of other ingredients such as baking powder or yeast.
Popcorn (other than ready-to-pop microwave popcorn) – 2 years.
Storage Tip #1: Store in an airtight glass or plastic container in a cool place, such as a cupboard.
Storage Tip #2: The National Popcorn Board
Shortening – 3 to 8 months opened; 8 to 12 months unopened
Storage Tip #1: Store in a tightly closed container in a cool, dark place.
Storage Tip #2 Shortening that has been stored too long will go rancid and develop an undesirable taste and odor. If you haven't used a shortening for a while, smell it before using it in a recipe.
Spices and Herbs – 1 year for herbs or ground spices, 2 years for whole spices.
Storage Tip #1: Air, light, moisture and heat speed flavor and color loss of herbs and spices. Store in a tightly covered container in a dark place away from sunlight, such as inside a cupboard or drawer.
For open spice rack storage, choose a site away from light, heat and moisture. Keep moisture out of containers by: Avoiding storage above or near the stove, dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, sink or a heating vent. Always use a dry spoon to remove spices or herbs. Never sprinkle directly from the container into a steaming pot.
Brown Sugar- 4 months to 6 months for maximum flavor
Storage Tip: It's very important to store brown sugar in an airtight container to retain its moisture and prevent it from becoming hard. Either store it in its original plastic bag, tightly closed, or transfer to an airtight container or a heavy moisture-proof plastic bag, such as a freezer bag.
To Soften Brown Sugar: Brown sugar becomes hard when the moisture in it has evaporated. Several methods have been suggested to help restore the moisture to brown sugar; here's an overview of those mentioned most frequently: +Oven Method. Heat the brown sugar in a 250 oven for a few minutes Watch itcarefully and as soon as it is soft, measure the amount you need. When the sugar cools, it will become hard again. Warning: the sugar will be very hot.
+Microwave Method. Place brown sugar in a microwave-safe container and cover loosely with a clean, white, wet (but not dripping wet) paper towel. Microwave on high (100 percent power) and check about every 30 seconds.
When the sugar cools, it will become hard again. Warning:
the sugar will be very hot.
+Candied Orange Slices. Place brown sugar in a plastic sandwich
bag with a few pieces of candied orange slices. In a matter minutes, brown
sugar lumps will soften (source: Heloise)
White Granulated Sugar – 2 years
* Storage Tip: Store sugar in an airtight container or a heavy
bag, such as a freezer bag. Properly stored sugar keeps indefinitely.
+To Soften Hardened White Sugar: When white granulated sugar absorbs
moisture, it becomes hard. Here are some possible suggestions for
breaking up hard sugar:Put hard sugar in a sturdy food-quality bag and pound it with a hammer, meat pounder or flat side of a meat mallet.
Break up small pieces in a spice grinder.
Vegetable Oil – 1 to 6 months opened; 6 to 12 months unopened
Times vary according to type of oil, method of processing, etc. Some
companies recommend up to 1 year opened and 2 years unopened for
certain types of oils. Some of the oils with a shorter storage time,
include walnut, sesame, hazelnut and almond oils. Oil that has been
stored too long will go rancid and develop an undesirable taste and
odor. If you haven't used oil for a while, smell it before using it in a
recipe. You can prolong the life of oils by storing them in the
refrigerator. Some, such as olive oil, may become cloudy in the
refrigerator but usually clear after sitting at room temperature to warm
Source: Alice Henneman, MS, RD, Extension Educator, Cooperative
Extension in Lancaster County.
Issued infurtherance of Cooperative Extension work in agriculture and
home economics, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, and other related
acts,in cooperation with the U. S. Department of Agriculture. The
Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn
University) offers educational programs, materials and equal opportunity
employment to all people without regard to race, color, national origin,
religion \, sex, age, veteran status, or disability.