14 Pantry Goods That Basically Never Expire

The pantry—originally a room to store bread—dates back to medieval times, though today this cool, dry spot keeps a much wider variety of foods safe to eat. With the right conditions, many pantry staples can sit for years or even decades and still be perfectly edible, which is nice to know if you’re stocking up for emergencies! While you should always use your best judgment before eating something you bought years ago, take some peace of mind from the fact that these 14 pantry goods pretty much never expire.

  1. Most Canned Food

    Canned Foods Expiration Dates

    Because the canning process locks out oxygen, canned food will stay fresh for years—often far beyond the printed expiration date. Remember, though, that eating improperly stored canned goods can cause botulism, so if your cans look rusted or have deep dents or bulges, don’t eat what’s inside.

    Related: 11 Things Never to Keep in Your Garage


  2. Salt

    Salt Expiration Dates

    When stored in an airtight container, this natural preservative will last forever. So, go ahead—shake that salt shaker.

    Related: 10 Low-Cost Cures for an Overstuffed Fridge


  3. Honey

    Honey Expiration Dates

    It may be a liquid, but this viscous sweetener has a very low water content, which helps it last for years. Even when honey changes color or crystallizes, it's still good—as long as the container is sealed.

    Related: 12 Kitchen Gadgets People Always Regret Buying


  4. Sugar

    Sugar Expiration Dates

    All kinds of sugar, including brown sugar, powdered sugar, and white sugar, will last indefinitely. Sugar can harden over time, but it's still safe to eat if you don't mind the texture. If the lumps really bother you, try softening the sugar by putting it in a plastic bag along with a damp paper towel and microwaving it for about 15 seconds.

    Related: 10 Things You Didn't Know Your Microwave Can Do


  5. Maple Syrup

    Maple Syrup Expiration Dates

    Just like honey, pure maple syrup has low water content and can last for ages—which, given how much it costs, is a huge relief!


  6. Alcohol

    Alcohol Expiration Dates

    Distilled liquors like tequila, vodka, gin, whiskey, and rum last indefinitely, even after they've been opened. The only downside to keeping an opened bottle of spirits on the shelf is that it will slowly lose its flavor over time.

    Related: 10 "Sober" Alternative Uses for Alcohol at Home


  7. Vanilla Extract

    Vanilla Extract Expiration Dates

    Pure vanilla extract (not the imitation stuff) is mostly alcohol, so a bottle of the stuff will stay fresh for years as long as it's been properly sealed after use. 

    Related: 10 Instant Cures for Any Kitchen Odor


  8. Distilled White Vinegar

    White Vinegar Expiration Dates

    This high-acidity liquid is a preservative for a reason: Distilled white vinegar will last forever in a cool, dark place.


  9. White Rice

    White Rice Expiration Dates

    Inside an airtight container, all varieties of uncooked white rice will last forever (just keep an eye out for pantry pests). Alas, brown rice has a shorter shelf life than its white cousin.


  10. Oats

    Oatmeal Expiration Dates

    Another dried grain with a long shelf life, dried oats will last for years when stored in an airtight container.

    Related: How to Grow Fresh Produce from Your Leftover Groceries


  11. Dried Pasta

    Dried Pasta Expiration Dates

    Although pasta manufacturers stamp an expiration date on the package, the truth is, an unopened package of dried pasta can last for years beyond that date. To ensure lasting freshness, keep pasta in a cool, dark place, and watch out for bugs.


  12. Dried Beans

    Dried Beans Expiration Dates

    Though they may take longer to get tender when you finally cook them, many varieties of dried beans remain edible basically forever.

    Related: 10 Gadgets for Every Lazy Cook's Kitchen


  13. Cornstarch

    Cornstarch Expiration Dates

    Keep cornstarch well sealed after you’ve opened it, and this low-moisture thickener can last for years.

    Related: Start Fresh: 10 Things in Your Kitchen You Need to Toss ASAP


  14. Powdered Milk

    Powdered Milk Expiration Dates

    As long as it’s sealed, an unopened package of powdered milk can last indefinitely.

    Related: 9 Signs You Need to Replace Your Fridge


  15. Time to Toss

    Things To Throw Away

    These pantry items might have long-lasting dates, but not all home goods do—including non-edible stuff. Check out this guide to figure out what things are okay to keep and what needs a fresh replacement.


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