I had neglected my pantry shelf for a while due to work, school, and life in general. It had been a while since I had cleaned it out. I found many boxes of half-eaten cereal, bags filled with a handful of chips, 5 bags of open spaghetti, and various other foods.
Dry, Bulk Items
I invested in a vacuum sealer last year and purchased a mason-jar attachment for it. I put my dry, bulk items in their own mason jar and use the vacuum sealer to remove excess air from the container. It works quite well and prolongs the shelf life by a few months.
What Vegetables Are Okay for Pantry Life?
This is only true for vegetables that have not yet been inside a fridge!
The following vegetables keep well in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area: potatoes, onions, garlic, cabbage, tomatoes (optional: wrap in newspaper), avocados, green peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash. Wrap carrots and celery within tinfoil in order to store outside of the fridge.
Keeping your Baking Products Fresh
Store in a cool, dry place. Test for freshness by adding a spoonful to water–it should fizzle.
If you bake frequently, it is okay to keep it in its store-bought bag; however, keeping it in an airtight container is a good way to keep bugs out of it and keep it fresher longer if you aren’t a frequent baker. If you live in a particularly humid area, it might be a good idea to store it in your fridge within an airtight container. Just make sure that it is at room temperature before you bake with it!
Whole Wheat Flour and Other Flours
As these flours aren’t as processed as the white all-purpose flour, they tend to go “bad” more quickly. Store in an airtight container and entertain the idea of storing it inside the fridge.
Store in an airtight container to keep the moisture balance appropriate. Your sugar may form clumps or harden. If your brown sugar clumps or hardens, place a piece of white bread in your sugar container and leave it in there. If you need your sugar this instant, take a moist paper towel and add it into a bowl with your sugar, then zap it in the microwave for 10-20 seconds. This reintroduces the moisture into your sugar. Alternatively, you can store your brown sugar in a classical counter-top sugar container–use a terracotta trinket, previously soaked in water overnight and blotted dry, inside your container to keep your sugar fresh.
White Sugar or Icing Sugar
Airtight container! Exciting, I know.
As with baking powder, store in a cool, dry place (within a container). Test if it’s active by reliving your childhood on a smaller scale: add a few drops of vinegar to a teaspoon of baking soda and see if it fizzles. Fizzles are good 🙂
I always keep my yeast in an airtight container inside of the fridge. This helps prevent the yeast from being activated through moisture or through higher temperatures. If you’ve used yeast before, you are likely familiar with proofing it, which is how you test to see if it is still active. It is said that yeast only lasts around a year, but I have made good use of yeast for embarrassingly long amounts of time!