Most Canned Food
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.
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When stored in an airtight container, this natural preservative will last forever. So, go ahead—shake that salt shaker.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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.
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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.
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Distilled White Vinegar
This high-acidity liquid is a preservative for a reason: Distilled white vinegar will last forever in a cool, dark place.
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.
Another dried grain with a long shelf life, dried oats will last for years when stored in an airtight container.
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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.
Though they may take longer to get tender when you finally cook them, many varieties of dried beans remain edible basically forever.
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Keep cornstarch well sealed after you’ve opened it, and this low-moisture thickener can last for years.
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As long as it’s sealed, an unopened package of powdered milk can last indefinitely.
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Time to Toss
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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