shelf life of food
Some foods may be stored longer than the suggested guidelines however the quality, texture and flavor
will diminish with longer storage. In some cases, longer storage can cause bacteria to develop that can't
be seen or tasted, which becomes a health risk. Foods frozen at 0° may be safely stored for longer
periods of time than the suggested guidelines, but the quality of the food will not be as desirable. "When
in doubt, throw it out".
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Baked goods

3 to 4 days
keep refrigerated


1 week; keep refrigerated. Freeze 1 to 2 months

Baby foods

Follow use date on product. Once opened 1-2 days

Baking powder or soda

18 months

BBQ sauce

4 months


4 days at room temperature and sealed in its original wrapping. Refrigerating bread will cause it to dry out and go stale faster. You can freeze bread for up to 3 months.


1 to 3 months. Best to store in a covered butter dish on a top or middle shelf of the refrigerator, the door of the refrigerator is too warm. Freeze 6 to 9 months.


7 days stored in refrigerator. Freeze frosted cakes (egg-white and whole-egg) up to 3 months. Freeze unfrosted cakes up to 6 months. Egg-yolk cakes freeze up to 2 months. Buttercream frosting freezes well. Custards and egg white frosting do not freeze well.

Canned citrus fruits and juices, berries

6 months

Canned foods (commercial)

For best quality store up to 14 months, once opened transfer to an airtight glass or plastic container and refrigerate for 2 to 5 days

Canned fish

12 months, 2 days once opened (If can is not dented and it has been stored in a cool, dry place it will be shelf stable for up to 4 years.)

Canned meat

Consume within 2-5 years, 3-4 days after opening. If the meat contains high acid foods such as tomatoes it should be consumed within 18 months

Canned poultry

18 months, 2 days once opened

Canned tomatoes

12 months, 5 days once opened. (If stored in a cool dry place, and can is not dented, tomatoes will be shelf stable for 2 to 2 1/2 years.)

Canned vegetables

18 months, 3 days once opened (If can is not damaged with dents, and is not bulging it should be shelf stable for 4 years from the date it was produced.)


3 to 4 days refrigerated. Freeze 2 to 3 months.


Highly perishable, take from the refrigerator 15 minutes before eating and remove lid only at the last moment. Unopened, a container of fresh caviar may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.


See package date; keep in an airtight container after opening


Hard, 1 to 2 months depending on cheese. Toss out if there is any mold present, do not cut mold away and eat cheese. May be frozen 4 to 6 months although it will change the texture of the cheese and make it crumbly. Ricotta cheese is highly perishable and should be consumed within 1 week after opening. Freezing is not recommended as it will affect the texture.


Soft, 1 week after opening


7 days in refrigerator


Solid chocolate products will maintain their freshness if well wrapped and stored in a cool, dry place (55-60F). Cocoa is considered a non-perishable item which should maintain freshness if stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container. The shelf life of confectionery products is generally a year. Ingredients such as nuts will shorten the shelf life. Products kept beyond the recommended shelf life may have flavor loss and texture changes. Chocolate contains cocoa butter, a vegetable fat that is sensitive to heat and humidity. Temperatures above 75 will cause chocolate to melt. The cocoa butter can rise to the surface and form a grayish discoloration called cocoa butter bloom. Condensation on milk or semi-sweet chocolate may cause the sugar to dissolve and rise to the surface as a sugar bloom. Neither bloom affects the quality or flavor of the chocolate and once melted, the chocolate will regain its original color. While refrigerated chocolate is safe to use, it's not recommended. Chocolate kept in the refrigerator may sweat when brought to room temperature and then not melt properly.

Clams, mussels, and oysters (live)

Store in refrigerator, keep damp with clean damp cloth, moist paper towel, or washed lettuce leaves. Do not place them on ice or allow freshwater to come in contact with them and never put them in an airtight container, which will kill them. Freshly shucked oysters, scallops and clams in shells should be stored in the refrigerator at about 32 F. preferably with ice surrounding them.

Coffee, fresh ground

2 to 3 weeks. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Commercially hydrated foods

Approximately 5 years before opening.

Commercially freeze-dried foods

Approximately 12-18 months before opening

Condensed milk

Store unopened cans for up to 15 months. Once opened refrigerate and use within 1 week


Around 6 months, depending on how many times product has been opened. These are OK to store in door of the refrigerator because of preservatives.

Cooked ground beef

3 to 4 days refrigerated

Cooked pork

3 to 4 days refrigerated

Cooked poultry

3 to 4 days refrigerated

Cooked turkey

3 to 4 days refrigerated


Freeze up to 6 months

Cottage cheese

5 to 7 days after opening. Freezing not recommended.

Crabs and lobsters (live)

Store live lobsters and crabs in the refrigerator in moist packages but not in airtight containers. Lobsters should remain alive for about 24 hours.

Cream cheese

1 to 2 weeks. Freezing not recommended however if using in a recipe you can freeze the block of cream cheese for up to 2 months.

Cream, in carton

One week

Cream pie

2 to 3 days in refrigerator.


Use fresh eggs up to 30 days past the pack date on carton. Refrigerate in their original container, not in egg holder of refrigerator. Freezing not recommended.

Eggs, deviled

2 to 3 days refrigerated

Eggs, hard-boiled

1 week refrigerated

Eggs, leftover yolks, or whites

2 to 4 days. May be frozen 9 to 12 months. For yolks, add 1 tsp. sugar for use in sweet, or 1 tsp. salt for non-sweet dishes.

Egg, substitute, liquid

6 days after opening

Evaporated milk

Once opened, 1 week


4 years except for vanilla which is has an unlimited shelf life.


Before refrigerating, remove fish from it original wrapper, rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Wrap with plastic wrap and place on a plate (to catch any drips) then refrigerate as soon as possible. Keep between 32 to 37 degrees F. If you plan to keep fish for more than 24 hours, place on a rack over a pan, fill pan with crushed ice, and cover tightly. Rinse the fish daily, changing the ice. For longer storage, rinse fish in cold water, pat dry with paper towels, wrap tightly in plastic wrap then aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks.


Replace once a year if it has been stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Or place white flour in the refrigerator for up to 2 years. Whole-wheat and other whole-grain flours should be replaced every six months because they contain oils that can turn rancid. Whole-grain flour can become bitter after a few weeks. To prevent this, place in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator or freezer immediately after bringing it home from the store. Replace it after 6 months.

Frozen citrus fruits and juices

4-6 months. Prepared use within a week.

Frozen dinners

4 months

Frozen (non-citrus) fruit

8-12 months

Frozen vegetables

Up to 12 months, leftover cooked vegetables 2-3 days

Fruit juice

(fresh- squeezed) 3 to 4 days in a covered container in refrigerator.


cooked grains can be stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


1 to 2 days after prepared, store in refrigerator. Freeze up to 3 months.

Herbs, dried

6 months to 1 year, store in cool, dark place. Refrigerate red spices


3-4 years for whole spices and seed, 2-3 years for ground spices, 1-3 years for leafy herbs, and 1-2 years for seasoning blends


Will thicken and darken with age. Best used within 1 year


Use within 7 days after opening. Use homemade hummus within 5-7 days

Ice Cream and sherbet

1 month in freezer

Jams, jellies

6 months after opening, store in refrigerator

Juice, commercial

8 months from production date. 7 to 10 days after opening, (store in refrigerator).


(unopened 1 year) 4-6 months after opening and stored in refrigerator.


Replace baking powder by the use-by date printed on the can. Baking soda should be replaced within a year if it's opened, and will keep 2 years if unopened.


Store live lobsters in the refrigerator in moist packages but not in airtight containers. Lobsters should remain alive for about 24 hours.

Macaroni, spaghetti, dried pasta

1 year; keep in an airtight container after opening

Maple syrup

1 year

Maraschino cherries

3-4 years unopened, once opened 2 weeks at room temperature or 6 months refrigerated


4 months in refrigerator


Indefinitely unopened. 2-3 months after opening and stored in refrigerator.


40 weeks unopened, 3 months opened


May be used 2-5 days after date on container
Once opened, consume within 7 to 10 days. Store on bottom shelf or near the bottom shelf of refrigerator. Keep temperature between 38-40 F


2 years


12 months after opening, stored in refrigerator

Nonfat dry milk powder

6 months; keep in an airtight container after opening


Olive oil 1-2 years; Keep tightly capped away from light and heat. Store in a cabinet or refrigerate, which will cause oil to solidify but will not affect quality. Flavored oils, or oils made with nuts, 5 to 6 weeks. Keep tightly sealed and refrigerated to prevent oil from going rancid


Unopened 3 years, 2 weeks once opened, stored in refrigerator

Orange juice

Use by expiration date and store in the door of the refrigerator. The citric acid and pasteurization of OJ hinders bacterial growth.


Egg pasta 2 years. Non-egg pasta 3 years, if package is not damaged and it's been stored in a dry place.

Pasta cooked

1 to 2 days refrigerated

Pasta salad

2 to 3 days refrigerated

Peanut butter (natural)

unopened 2 years, once opened 6 months; refrigerate or keep cool during warm months.

Peanut butter (processed)

unopened, 2 years, once opened 6 months, (refrigerate after 3 months)


1-2 years unless frozen or refrigerated, opened 1-2 weeks in an airtight container.


Unopened 18 months. 1-2 months after opening, refrigerated


1 to 2 days refrigerated

Potato salad

2 to 3 days refrigerated


Refer to Meats, poultry, fish section

Ricotta cheese

1 week after opening

Rice, white

Indefinite; keep in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate cooked rice in a tightly sealed container for up to 1 week

Salad dressing, commercial

unopened 12 months, 3 to 6 months after opening, stored in refrigerator.


8 months; store in a cool dark place

Soda (regular) unopened in cans or glass bottles

9 months from date on product


5 days refrigerated. Freeze 2 to 3 months.

Sour cream

1 to 2 weeks refrigerated. Freezing not recommended.


3-4 years for whole spices and seed, 2-3 years for ground spices, 1-3 years for leafy herbs, and 1-2 years for seasoning blends.

Steak sauce

Unopened 33 months.

Sugar, brown

4 months; store in an airtight container. To keep brown sugar from getting hard place a moisture disc or a slice of bread inside the package after opening.

Sugar, granulated

2 years; keep in an airtight container after opening

Syrups-corn, maple-flavored, maple

1 year; refrigerate maple syrup after opening

Tea bags

Use within 2 years after opening package.

Tea (loose)

Store at room temperature and use within 18 months after opening.


Use by date on package. Removed from package, store in container of fresh water for up to 1 week. Change the water daily. Or rinse, wrap and freeze for up to 3 months

Tuna (canned)

1 year from purchase date. Opened 3-4 days, stored in container other than can.

Vegetable oil

1 year; keep in an airtight container away from light and heat

Yeast, active dry

Unopened dry yeast has a shelf life of 2 years and should be stored in a cool, dry place such as a refrigerator or cupboard. Once opened it needs to be stored in the refrigerator and should be used within 4 months. It may also be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. Before using, it should be brought to room temperature.


About 2 years after opening.


(Opened) Red and white wine 3-5 days. Store white in the door of the refrigerator. Unopened 3 years from vintage date, store with bottle neck down to keep the cork moist. For fine wines
20-100 years.


1 week after opening stored in refrigerator