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Storage Guide: Food Safety

Food Safety Guide for Packing up Your Pantry

How long can I store _________ before its quality deteriorates or it's no longer safe to eat?

It is very important to store food correctly in order to maintain optimum quality, reduce the chances of mold and deterioration and to ensure that you consume food safely. How long you store food depends on the type of food, how long it remained packaged before purchase, the temperature of the food item in the store prior to purchase, how securely it is packaged, the efficiency of your fridge or freezer, and the temperature in your kitchen cabinets or pantry. Although we don’t have control over all of these factors, we can still be cautious by checking expiration dates at the store and purchasing items that were packaged well in advance of the date. Always buy dairy products, meat and fresh fruit and vegetables last when shopping, since they start to deteriorate following a drastic temperature change. Put purchase dates on food items and rotate your supplies on a regular basis. This guide provides a quick reference chart for proper food storage and handling tips. Remember to always use common sense as well. If food smells or looks strange or if you have any doubts about it, exercise caution and throw it out.


Baking powder – 18 months – Store covered in a dry place..

Baking soda – 2 years – Store covered in a dry place..

Chocolate – 12 months – Store in a cool place..

Coffee (cans, opened) – 2 weeks – Store in a tightly sealed container.

Flour (white) – 6 – 8 months – Store refrigerated in an air-tight container.

Honey – 12 months – Keep well sealed. Warm the open jar in water if honey crystallizes.

Pasta (macaroni, spaghetti, etc.) – 2 years – Store in well-sealed container after opening.

White Rice – 2 years – Store well-sealed.

Vegetable Oils - 1 – 3 months – Store in a well-sealed container in a cool, darkened cabinet.

Brown Sugar – 4 months – Store in airtight container with plastic wrap laid over the sugar.

Breads, Cakes, Pastries

Baked quick breads – 2 months – Store frozen.

Muffins – 6 – 12 months – Store frozen.

Baked breads (with no preservatives) – 2 – 3 weeks – Store in refrigerator in sealed bag.

Unbaked fruit pies – 2 - 4 months – Store frozen.

Baked cookies – 2 – 3 weeks – Keep in well-sealed container. Refrigeration not necessary.

Freezer pie shells – 12 months – For open packages, wrap well and store in freezer. Use within two months.

Cookie dough – 3 months – Keep in freezer.

Unbaked cakes (batter) – 1 month – If freezing batter, use double-action baking powder in the mix.

Angel cakes – 6 – 12 months – Keep in freezer.

Fruit cakes – 6 – 12 months – Keep in freezer.

Dairy Products

Margarine – 4 - 6 months – Store well-wrapped in refrigerator.

Butter – 1 – 2 weeks – Store well-wrapped in refrigerator.

Cottage cheese – 2 weeks – Store in air-tight container and refrigerate.

Hard & wax-coated cheese (Cheddar, Edam, Gouda, Swiss) unopened – 1 – 2 weeksWrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Parmesan Romano, grated (opened) – 3 – 4 weeks – Refrigerate in well-sealed container.

Evaporated milk (opened) – 4 – 5 days – Cover the can or transfer milk to sealed container and refrigerate. 

Homogenized milk, reconstituted dry nonfat – 5 days – Store in sealed container and refrigerate.

Sweetened condensed milk (opened) – 4 – 5 days – Cover and store in refrigerator.

Sour cream - 2 weeks – Cover and store in refrigerator.

Yogurt – 7 – 10 days – Cover and store in refrigerator.

Fruits and Juices

Bananas – Several days – Store ripe bananas in fridge, or unripe ones outside.

Apples – 1 – 3 weeks – Discard decaying or bruised fruit. Don’t wash before storing because moisture speeds up spoilage. Refrigerate in crisper drawer.

Berries, cherries – 1 – 2 days – Line box with paper towel, cover and store in refrigerator.

Citrus fruit – 3 weeks – Keep refrigerated.

Juices (canned, bottled or reconstituted) – 6 days (diluted) in refrigerator or 8 months in freezer. – Keep frozen. When thawing, store in refrigerator.

Pre-mixed full strength fruit juice – Several days – Keep in refrigerator. Do not use after the “use by” date on the carton.

Real lemon – 12 months – Keep wrapped in refrigerator.

Cranberry cocktail (canned) – 5 – 6 days (diluted) in fridge or 3 – 6 months in freezer – Seal container and refrigerate.

Melons – 1 week – Wrap uncut pieces in plastic wrap and refrigerate. (PDF)

Other – 3 – 5 days – Keep dry by wrapping in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

  • Store non-refrigerator foods in cool, dark cabinets away from the stove, oven and windows.
  • Use the “first in, first out” rule: packages with the furthest expiry dates are placed at the back of the cabinet, while the closest dates are placed up front. Consume packages from front to back.
  • At the store, be careful not to purchase dusty, dented or damaged canned and packaged products.
  • For refrigerator and freezer storage, use plastic wrap, sealable bags or airtight containers to minimize spoilage.
  • After purchasing fresh produce, remove fruits and vegetables from their plastic packaging. Wrap them in paper towels or brown paper bags and store in the crisper drawers of the fridge. This will extend the life of the food by absorbing moisture.
  • Keep the fridge clean and remove spoiled foods quickly to prevent decay and odor from spreading.
  • The optimal temperature for the fridge is 34 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Consume refrigerated foods in a timely manner, or else divide the food into parts and store some of it in the freezer for later use.
  • Use appropriate containers or storage bags for freezing to avoid freezer burn.
  • The optimal freezer temperature should be 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Don’t overstock the freezer since it may not cool as efficiently if so.