I love a well-stocked pantry, something about it feels safe. It’s not often that I have everything I need at my fingertips, I wish I was that organised, believe me when I say I try! My pantry, however, is a left-over mix of ingredients for old recipes, new recipes, recipes planned but not executed and a whole bunch of good intentions.
Whipping up evening meals for my hungry family week AFTER week makes my pantry and I’m sure yours one of great importance. However, it can be neglected simply due to lack of time. I can honestly say that I should clear out my pantry more regularly than I do. With me being me it’s neat and tidy, but that’s not why I need to clear it out. The clear out becomes important when we are using ingredients that are past their shelf life. Ingredients that we assume are ok but aren’t!
So, what should you be checking?
Start with last year’s Christmas cooking ingredients. Cooking up a storm at Christmas is intense. You tend to buy ingredients that you wouldn’t use otherwise. Meaning you often don’t store them the way you would day to day items. You are also less inclined to use containers at this time of year because there are never enough containers at Christmas, so the Christmas ingredients can end up at the back of the pantry, open, in original packaging and spoiled.
Rice. White rice has an amazing shelf life. Brown rice, on the other hand, is a whole different matter. Unlike white rice, brown rice tends to spoil quicker due to its oil content. Always keep an eye on the expiry and as a rule of thumb discard brown rice that has been opened after six months. Want to know a little more about the differences between white rice and brown rice? Find out some very interesting differences here.
Open peanut butter. This is surprising. Peanut butter has a minimal shelf-life in the pantry, around three months. To extend its shelf life keep open peanut butter in the fridge. If you eat organic peanut butter or any nut butter for that matter, always keep it in the fridge because it has no nasty preservatives (that’s why it’s best) keeping it cold is important.
Canned goods. I’m not a huge fan of canned goods, but they are in my pantry. My son loves organic baked beans and I cannot cook half of my meals without canned tomatoes, coconut milk and canned legumes, all organic of course. So, I have cans. Take a very quick moment next time you are rifling through your pantry to take a quick peek at the expiry on your canned goods. These little guys can spend years in our pantry being overlooked. If you cannot find the expiry and it’s highly likely that it’s been there for over two years it’s time to throw them away.
The spices! Ok, we are all guilty of keeping these little jars for so much longer than we should. It’s simply too easy to forget about them. Plus, they aren’t cheap. Taking a minute to check the expiry will do you the world of good. Adding expired spices to your cooking shouldn’t cause too much harm but the flavour you think you are adding won’t be there. Spices lose their potency after they expire and after they have been opened longer than a year. Test spices that haven’t reached their expiry by rubbing some between your palms, if they are smelling like the real deal keep them. If they are lacking their kick it’s time to part ways.
Olive oil. This ingredient is tricky. There is a lot of information about the storage of olive oil. Because it’s delicate it can easily turn bad quickly. After opening some say you need to use it within one to two months as long as it’s stored in a dark glass bottle and stored in a cool dark space. Heat, air, and light are the enemies of olive oil. Keep your olive oil unopened in your pantry for its full expiry date, however once opened it’s best to use it quickly to prevent excessive oxidation and rancidity. I have written a post all about oils and which one is best for you, if you would like to read it you can pop over here.
Your pantry should be working for you with ingredients that are fresh and ready to go. Space is a valuable commodity as is our time. Clearing out pantry items that are no longer good for us saves time, clears up valuable space and can prevent some potentially bad food mishaps.
Take a few moments this week to check what’s hiding in your pantry before all that Christmas cooking creeps up on us again!
Love EXPIRED FOOD YOU HAVE IN YOUR PANTRY RIGHT NOW? Or know someone who needs to read this? Please share away!
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