Prudent Food Storage

The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down. - Proverbs 21:20

Section 5 Shelf Lives
C. Shelf Life of Common Foods


FOODAt 70° F.
Keep the product:
Baking powderTill can dateSealed & bone dry
Baking soda2 yearsSealed & dry
Biscuit, brownie, muffin mix9 monthsSealed, cool, dry, weevil proofed
Bouillon, cubes or granules2 yearsSealed, cool and dry
Cake mixes,  regular 
angel food
9 months 
1 year 
Sealed, cool, dry, weevil proofed
Sealed, cool, dry, weevil proofed
Canned food:  metal can, non-acidic 
metal can, acidic
glass jars
2 years 
12-18 months 
2-3 years
Cool & dry
Cool & dry
Dark , cool & dry
Chocolate, semi-sweet or unsweetened,
bars or chips
18 monthsCool and dark
Chocolate syrup2 yearsCool & tightly sealed
Cocoa, powder or mixes8 monthsSealed and cool
Coffee, regular
2 years
1-2  years
Cool, dry and sealed
Coffee creamers, powdered 9 monthsSealed and cool
Cornmeal 1 yearKeep dry & weevil proofed
Cornstarch18 monthsKeep dry
Crackers3 monthsKeep dry & weevil proofed
Flour, refined white
whole wheat
8-12 months
4-6 weeks 
Dry & weevil proofed
Keep dry, refrigerate or freeze for longer shelf life
Frostings, canned
3 months
8 months
Dry and cool
Fruits, dried6-12 monthsCool, sealed, weevil proofed
Gelatin, all types18 monthsProtect from moisture
Grains, whole2 yearsDry and weevil proofed
Hominy, hominy grits, masa harina1 yearDry and weevil proofed
Honey2 yearsCool, tightly sealed, dark
Jellies, jams, preserves2 yearsDark, cool, tightly sealed.
Molasses & syrups2 yearsTightly sealed
Mayonnaise6 monthsCool & dark
Milk, condensed or evaporated
non-fat dry
1 year
6 months
Turn over every 2 months
Bone dry and cool
Nuts, vacuum canned
other packaging
in shell
1 year
3 months 
4 months
Cool and dark
Cool and dark – better refrigerated or frozen
Cool, dry and dark – better refrigerated or frozen
Pancake mix6-9 monthsDry and weevil proofed
Pastas (macaroni, noodles, etc)2 yearsDry and weevil proofed
Peanut butter6-9 monthsSealed, cool, dark
Peas and beans, dry (not soybeans)2 yearsDry and weevil proofed
Potatoes, instant6-12 monthsDry and weevil proofed
Pudding mixes1 yearCool and very dry
Rice, white
flavored or herb
2+ years
3-6 months
6 months
Dry and weevil proofed
Dry and weevil proofed, better refrigerated or frozen
Sealed, dry and weevil proofed
Salad dressings10-12 monthsSealed, dark, cool.  Better refrigerated
Salad oils6 monthsSealed, dark, cool.  Better refrigerated
Sauce and gravy mixes6-12 monthsCool and dry
Shortening, solid1 yearCool, dark, tightly sealed.
Soup mixes1 yearCool, dry, and weevil proofed
Sugar, brown
2 years
18 months
Tightly sealed, dry
Tightly sealed, dry
Syrups (corn syrup based)8-12 monthsSealed and cool
Tea, bags
18 months
3 years
2 years
Sealed and dry
Sealed, dark, dry
Sealed and dry
Vegetables, dried1 yearCool, dark, dry, weevil proofed
Vinegar2+ yearsSealed
Yeast (dry)Pkg expiration dateCool, sealed, dry.  Better frozen

Updated: 9/18/96; 4/16/97; 7/21/97; 10/20/97; 9/15/98; 11/02/99; 12/01/03

Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003. Alan T. Hagan. All rights reserved.

Excluding contributions attributed to specific individuals or organizations all material in this work is copyrighted to Alan T. Hagan with all rights reserved. This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the entire text, mine and the contributor's names and this copyright notice remain intact, unless my prior express permission has been obtained. This FAQ may not be distributed for financial gain, included in commercial collections or compilations, or included as a part of the content of any web site without prior, express permission from the author.

DISCLAIMER: Safe and effective food storage requires attention to detail, proper equipment and ingredients. The author makes no warranties and assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in this text, or damages resulting from the use or misuse of information contained herein. This FAQ is not intended for, nor should it be used in, any commercial food applications.

Placement of or access to this work on this or any other site does not necessarily mean the author espouses or adopts any political, philosophical or metaphysical concepts that may also be expressed wherever this work appears.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements & Foreword

Section 1 - Shelf Lives

  1. Time, Temperature, Moisture, Oxygen and Light

Section 2 - Foods

  1. Common Storage Foods

A. Grains & legumes

  1. Grains & Grain Products
  2. Legumes
  3. Availability of Grains and Legumes
  4. Storing Grains and Legumes

B. Dairy Products

  1. Dry Milks
  2. Canned Fluid Milks and Creams
  3. Butter
  4. Cheese

C. Eggs

  1. Dry Eggs

D. Sugar, Honey and Other Sweeteners

  1. Granulated Sugars
  2. Honey
  3. Cane Syrups
  4. Corn Syrup
  5. Maple Syrup

E. Fats and Oils

  1. Buying & Storing Oils and Fats
  2. Extending Shelf Life By Adding Anti-Oxidants

F. Cooking Adjuncts

  1. Baking Powder
  2. Baking Soda
  3. Herbs & Spices
  4. Salt
  5. Vinegar
  6. Yeast

G. Infant Formula

  1. Alternatives to Breastfeeding
  2. Selecting and Feeding An Infant Formula
  3. Storing Infant Formulas and Baby Foods

H. MREs - Meals, Ready to Eat

  1. U.S. Military MREs
  2. U.S. Civilian MREs
  3. British/Canadian MREs
  4. Other Self-Heating Ready To Eat Type Products

I. Ration Bars

  1. Ration Bars

Section 3 - Specific Equipment Questions

A. Storage Containers

  1. What is Food Grade Packaging?
  2. Plastic Packaging
  3. Metal Cans
  4. Glass Jars
  5. Mylar Bags
  6. Reusing or Recycling Packaging

B. CO2 and Nitrogen

  1. Dry Ice
  2. Compressed Nitrogen

C. Vacuum Sealing

  1. Vacuum Sealing Considerations

D. Freeze Treating

  1. Freeze Treating

E. Oxygen Absorbers

  1. What Is an Oxygen Absorber?
  2. How Are Oxygen Absorbers Used?

F. Moisture in Packaging and Food Storage

  1. Why Moisture is Important
  2. What Is A Desiccant?
  3. Types of Desiccants
  4. How Do I Use Desiccants?
  5. Where Do I Find Desiccants?

G. Diatomaceous Earth

  1. What is Diatomaceous Earth?
  2. Where Do I Find DE and What Type Should I Buy?
  3. How Do I Use DE in Food Storage?

Section 4 - Spoilage

A. Insect Infestations

  1. Pests of Stored Grains, Legumes and Dry Foodstuffs
  2. Control of Insect Infestations

B. Molds in Foods

  1. Minimizing Molds
  2. Molds in Canned Goods
  3. Molds in Grains and Legumes

C. Bacterial Spoilage

  1. Botulism

D. Enzymatic Action in Food Spoilage

  1. Enzymatic Action

Section 5 - Shelf Lives

A. Food Product Dates

  1. "Best Used By", "Use By" and Other Food Product Dates

B. Closed Dating

  1. Closed Dating Codes Used by Some Food Manufacturers

C. Shelf Lives

  1. Shelf Lives of Some Common Storage Foods

Section 6 - Resources

A. Books

  1. Books

B. Pamphlets

  1. Pamphlets

C. Electronic-online

  1. Information sources
  2. Software sources

D. Organizations

  1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - LDS Family Cannery Guidelines

E. Food and Equipment Suppliers

  1. Mail Ordering Storage Foods What You Should Know
  2. Addresses of Suppliers