Food storage will vary from an item to item and from place to place (varies by climate). The best approach to seal the freshness is to buy the goods only when you need it. An every week grocery shopping would be just perfect. But, we all like to store few things for a year round supply, right! So, my personal advice is to apply a bit of common sense and to read the labels carefully. It should certainly say the expiry date and storage methods! Take the advice from an experienced home-cook, they are the best.
Temperature has much to do with how long and well the dried goods will be stored! According to USDA statement, “Each 5.6 C. (10.08F) drop in temperature doubles the storage life of the seeds.”
- Brown rice – Stores well for only six months on average conditions. Since it has lots of essential oils (barn / unpolished nature) it easily reacts with the oxygen and goes rancid very quick. My suggestion is to bring the temperatures down and store them in refrigerator to prolong the shelf life.
- White rice on the other had, due to its polished nature, it should last longer than you’ll need. It stores up well in 70 degrees F for more than 8-10 years.
- Soft Grains like Barley, Oats, Quinoa have a very soft outer shell, ill-suited for storing them for longer period. With a neat sealed containers…it should last for at least few years(2-3 years) at stable 70 F.
- Hard Grains like wheat, buckwheat, millet, corn, short grains should ideally store well in a cool dry place for at least the minimum 10-12 years. However, if you decide to bring down the temperature, one can store them even longer.
- Legumes – They typically lose their oils by age. Its best to put it to use instantly or grind them up to seal their active nutrients! However, in a well sealed compartment, its storage life isn’t that bad…8-10 years under ideal conditions (70 F)
- Flours – Whether it be millet or wheat flour…their outer shells isn’t present to protect the contents. It could deteriorate much easily. Put them into better use than storing them forever! If stored at a cooler temperature, it should last for five years, tops!
- Salt and sugar should keep well if stored in a moisture free cabinets. There is no saying…how long this could last!
- Nuts – Okay, my trick to store the nuts is buy them raw and seal them in an air-tight jars. Also try to use them up as fast as you can. The roasted ones are the ones that get rancid fast. Grinding them up is also a good idea to prolong shelf life. In my opinion, it could last for at least 6-8 months tops!
- Spices – Now am talking, it depends what kind of spice it is. Typically the moisture free (dry spice) can be stored well as long as 8-10 years under ideal conditions. Like peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon should even last longer. And, regarding the flavor. There you go…there is going to be much change in it. The cool and dry place, in a dark bottles are my choice.
- Dried Herbs are really a great choice for cooking…when we run out of the fresh herbs in off season! To seal the freshness…store them in a dark bottles, typically cool and dry place in my opinion. The dry mint and curry leaves are really put into good use for more them three years. I suppose it could last even longer.
- Honey – probably you heard it before…its the only product that keeps fresh (when sealed properly and stored in cool-dry place) for “Forever”. Yeah, I mean it. They even unearthed a jar of honey…so very fresh from the pyramids of Egypt. Isn’t that something.
As a general rule, most pantry staples stay fine if they are placed in airtight containers and stored in dark dry pantry shelves.
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