Friday, February 22, 2013

Time to Toss: Food Expiration Dates

 
I can guarantee that almost everyone reading this right now, has a  jar of something pretty old lurking  in the back of the refrigerator. And that mystery jar usually contains some sort of ooey, gooey condiment. Regardless of the fact that I'm naturally a tosser and am constantly purging to satisfy my OCD, most all the condiments in the Dawson refrigerator get used on a consistent basis. Thanks partly to my hopeless attempts of drowning food my kids claim they hate but have never tried with ketchup or ranch.

But for the sake of this post, I went to my refrigerator to unveil my mystery jar. And there she was. The Vegenaise spread. Think yellow-tinged mayo. Funny thing is I'm not Vegan. Nor do I intend to be. But for some reason something was telling me I should be. So I went out and spent a sh*t pot of money at Whole Foods only to walk out with an itty-bitty bag of "alternatives." That are sadly now past their prime but because I know how much money I spent on them, I can't pull myself to throw them away. Umph.

Which got me thinking about the shelf life of the other condiments stocked in my pantry and sitting in my refrigerator. Curious to know? You've come to the right spot. I've picked a handful of staples but for further reading on thousands of other items, check out StillTasty’s guidelines.

Ketchup

Unopened: 12 months in the pantry.
Opened: 6 months in the refrigerator, 1 month in the pantry.

While you see opened bottles of ketchup sitting out on restaurant tables, it’s best to store your own ketchup (which probably gets used less often) in your refrigerator.

Mayonnaise

Unopened: 3-4 months after the sell-by date on the package.
Opened: 2-3 months after the sell-by date on the package.

Sell-by dates represent the manufacturer’s estimate of how long the product will be at peak quality. In most cases, opened food is safe to consume after a sell-by date if it has been stored properly and continuously refrigerated.

Barbecue Sauce

Unopened: 12 months in the pantry.
Opened: 4 months in the refrigerator. One month in the pantry.

Store opened barbecue sauce in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life. Toss any sauce that develops an off color or scent.

Mustards - All types

Unopened: 2 years in the pantry.
Opened: One year in the refrigerator. 1-2 months in the pantry.

Opened mustard has a very long shelf life (one year!) when stored in the refrigerator. Toss any mustard that develops an off color or scent.

Relish

Unopened: 2 years in the pantry.
Opened: One year in the refrigerator.

Like mustard, opened relish has a long shelf life when refrigerated. If relish develops an off color, odor or appearance, discard it.

Creamy Salad Dressings - Ranch, Blue Cheese, Thousand Island

Unopened: 12-18 months in the pantry.
Opened: 6-9 months in the refrigerator.

Creamy dressings must be refrigerated after opening. If mold appears, discard the entire product.

Vinaigrette Dressings - Italian, Balsamic

Unopened: 12-18 months in the pantry.
Opened: 6-9 months in the refrigerator.

If your salad dressing develops an off color, odor or appearance, discard it.

Pickles - All types

Unopened: 2 years in the pantry.
Opened: 1 year in the refrigerator.

If your pickles develop an off color, odor or appearance, discard it.

Salsa - Fresh, store bought in the refrigerated section

Unopened: 10 to 14 days (or date on package) in the refrigerator, 1 to 2 months in the freezer.
Opened: 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator or 1 to 2 months in the freezer.

Fresh store-bought salsa should ideally be eaten when you open it. If you do have leftover salsa, freeze it in an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag.

Salsa or Picante Sauce - Store bought, sold unrefrigerated

Unopened: 12-18 months in the pantry.
Opened: 1 month in the refrigerator, 1 to 2 months in the freezer.

Jarred salsa is cooked, so it has a longer shelf life than the fresh kind. Discard salsa or picante sauce with an off color, odor or appearance.

Tartar Sauce

Unopened: 12 months in the pantry.
Opened: 6 months in the refrigerator.

Creamy condiments should always be refrigerated when opened. Discard tartar sauce with an off color, odor or appearance.

Hot Sauce - Most brands

Unopened: 5 years in the pantry/
Opened: 5 years in the refrigerator.

Discard hot sauce with an off color, odor or appearance.

Olives - Ripe in oil

Opened: 2-3 months in the refrigerator

Keep olives submerged in liquid after opening. Discard if they develop an off color, odor or appearance.

Olives - Green or black, canned

Unopened: 2-3 years in the pantry.
Opened: 1 year or date on can.

Keep olives submerged in brine after opening. Discard if they develop an off color, odor or appearance.

Doesn't cleaning out the refrigerator sound so fun this weekend!?!?!


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