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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

April 19, 2016 - 9:59am -- Anonymous

While the ups and downs with the weather have created some challenges this spring, it’s been a really good time to get some cleaning done.  I want to be able to get outside when the weather is nice, so meanwhile I’ve tried to tackle some of the less appealing tasks inside.

Have you ever pulled a canned good out your pantry and realized it was 2 years past the use-by date?  I will freely admit that a lot of the time when I’m putting away groceries (not my favorite task), I put the new stuff onto the front of the shelves and push back everything else.  Of course, this action results in a number of items getting “lost” in the very back of the pantry.  Here are some points to ponder as you clean out your pantry:

  • The color, flavor, texture and /or nutritive value may be adversely affected after a length of time.
  • Canned goods should be kept at moderately cool, but not freezing temperatures.
  • Canned goods stored above 70 degrees will have a shorter shelf life.  Do not store canned goods above 95 degrees such as in a shed or garage.
  • If cans are bulging, the food inside is spoiled and they should be discarded.
  • Cans with dents in the side seam or the rim seams mean the food was exposed to air and a good environment for harmful bacteria to grow.  Do not buy or use cans that have leaks or food in rusty cans.
  • Practice the rule, FIRST IN, FIRST OUT. This means you use the oldest products first. Place the newly purchased cans in back of the same products already on the shelf. For best quality, use home-canned foods within one year, and commercially-processed cans within two years.
  • Remember that once a can is opened, it becomes perishable; and, if you are not going to eat it right away, it should be refrigerator-stored or cooked properly and then stored in the refrigerator.
  • Low-acid canned goods. Examples: canned meat and poultry, stews, soups (except tomato), spaghetti (noodle and pasta) products, potatoes, corn, carrots, spinach, beans, beets, peas, pumpkin can be stored 2-5 years.  Remember, the longer you have them, the more the quality diminishes, so for best practice, use within the year.
  • High Acid canned goods like: juices (tomato, orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit); tomatoes; grapefruit, pineapple, apples and apple products, mixed fruit, peaches, pears, plums, all berries, pickles, sauerkraut should be used within 12-18 months.
  • The shelf life of whole spices is 2 years and of ground spices/dried herbs is one year. Do not store spices on the counter close to the stove because heat and light will shorten their shelf life.
  • If you can finish a bag of coffee beans in less than 10 to 12 days, store the coffee in an airtight container on the counter. Keep the coffee beans away from air and light. Freeze coffee beans you plan to keep longer than 12 days.

Here are additional resources for you to utilize as you clean out your pantry.  If you have further questions, give me a call at the Extension Office at 330-264-8722.

USDA Food Safety:

Pantry Food Storage:

Refrigerator Storage:

Freezer Storage:


Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.