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Kitchen Cupboard Makeover

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Kitchen Cupboard Makeover

Have you looked, really looked, at the foods in your kitchen cupboards lately?  Is it time to toss out a few items?  Should others be moved to a better location or storage container?  Below are a few items that often get overlooked and underused. The following storage tips are based on food stored at room temperatures of about 70 degrees F.  The times are those generally cited for maintaining best food quality.  Read labels carefully!  They often contain important storage information and recommended “use by” dates.

Baking Soda and Baking Powder: Store tightly covered in a dry place.  Make sure measuring utensils are dry before dipping into the container. Baking soda and baking powder can be stored 12-18 months or expiration date on container. To test baking soda for freshness, place 1 ½ 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. To test baking powder for freshness, mix 1 teaspoon baking powder with 1/3 cup hot water.  If it foams vigorously, it still has rising power.

Canned Foods: These can be stored 1-2 years.  The Canned Foods Institute recommends eating canned food within 2 years of processing for best quality.  Many cans will include a “for best quality use by” date stamped on the can.  Avoid refrigerating opened canned foods in their can.  Food can develop an off-odor from the can once it is opened.

White Flour:  All-purpose flour can be stored 6-12 months.  Store in a cool, dry place.  It is 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 affect the outcome of a recipe.  For longer storage, keep white flour in the refrigerator in an airtight container.  All-purpose and bread flour will keep up to two years at 40 degrees F in your refrigerator. They can be stored indefinitely in the freezer.  As a general rule, when measuring flour from refrigerated or frozen flour, allow the measure portion to come to room temperature before using it in baked goods so it doesn’t affect the action of other ingredients such as baking powder or yeast.

Honey:  Honey may be stored up to 12 months.  Honey stores best at room temperature.  It tends to crystallize more rapidly in the refrigerator.  This is a natural process in which the liquid turns solid.  You can place a jar of crystallized honey in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve.

Shortening:  Shortening can be stored 8-12 months if not opened; 3-8 months once opened. Store in a tightly closed container in a cool, dark place. Shortening that has been stored too long will go rancid and develop an undesirable taste and odor. If you haven’t used shortening for a while, smell it before using it in a recipe.

White Sugar:  This be stored up to 2 years.  Store in an airtight container or a heavy moisture-proof plastic bag such as a freezer bag. To soften hardened white sugar, place in a sturdy freezer bag and pound it with a meat pounder or hammer.

Vegetable Oil:  Vegetable oil can be stored 1-6 months after opening; 6-12 months unopened.  Store in a tightly closed container in a cool, dark place. Oil that has been stored too long will go rancid and develop an undesirable taste and odor.  If you haven’t used oil in a while, smell it before using it in a recipe.  You can extend the life of oil by storing it in the refrigerator.  Some may become cloudy in the refrigerator but usually clear up after sitting at room temperature to warm up.

Spices:  These can be stored in a cool, dry place, but will lose their flavor over time.  This won’t necessarily be a safety issue as much as a quality issue.  To ensure the best flavor, pay attention to the date on the label.

There are a few more tips to help you save money while getting the most bang for your buck, provided by “Food Reflections” and “Cook it Quick” from University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension Service:

1)      If you threw away portions of expired food, buy a smaller container next time.

2)      Practice “first in, first out” for foods.  If you have purchased several containers of the same type of food, arrange the containers so that you reach for the oldest package first.

3)      “Use by” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality.  (For fresh produce, such as bagged salads, discard after the “expiration” date.) The date has been determined by the manufacturer.  A “sell-by” date tells the store how long to display the product  for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires. “Best if used by” dates are recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.

Closing Thought:

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”  Bruce Lee


Johanna Hicks

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Family & Consumer Sciences

1200-B W. Houston

P.O.Box 518

Sulphur springs, TX 75483

903-885-3443 – phone

903-439-4909 – Fax

[email protected]

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Author: Staff Reporter

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