This is the year. You are going to rummage through the depths of your pantry and check cans, boxes and bags for expiration dates, and reach into the back of the fridge and read the fine print. Why do you have to do that? Well, things get old, right?
With age, spices lose potency, nuts go stale and cereal clumps together (especially the higher sugar ones). However, not everything needs to be tossed out right after the clock strikes midnight on the expiration date. This isn’t about wasting food, it’s about food safety and preserving the nutritional value of what you eat.
1) Check out spices. Most packaged spices have expiration dates. Check “Best by” dates and store in a cool, dry and dark space in your pantry. They are not harmful if they are old, they are just not as flavorful or as beneficial for health. In other words, they lose their potency, however don’t throw them away. You can add old spices with new ones until they are gone.
2) Seal nuts and seeds. The key with storing nuts and seeds is keeping them in tightly sealed containers and keeping them in a cool, dark place. You can store them in the fridge and freezer, too, especially ground nuts and seeds as they can go rancid more quickly. Typically, they can last in your pantry for 3 – 6 months in a tight container.
3) Refrigerate flour. Keep flour in an air-tight container (to keep insects out, too) and it will last longer in a cool, dry place. You can refrigerate or freeze it.
4) Smell milk. Don’t toss it if past due date. Do the “smell” test. If it smells sour, it usually is. Sour milk isn’t going to hurt you, but it’s not pleasant going down. :-
5) Test eggs. Keep them in the carton that you bought them in and store them in way back of the fridge; the coldest part. Eggs can last weeks after their expiration date. I have a carton in my fridge that is over due by 1 month! One way to tell if an egg is still good is to do the “Sink or Float” test. If an egg sinks, it’s good; if it floats, it’s built up air and gases and it’s not good to eat.
6) Wipe out the white, high sugar products (white flour products like cookies, cakes and donuts): Stock your pantry with high fiber, whole grains. You’ll get more nutritional value and feel better!