Spring has sprung and that means one thing: It’s time to get organized and purge last year’s clutter! But when you get to spring cleaning the kitchen, keep in mind that some things might not need to go into the garbage as soon as you think.
Wait... Don’t throw those spices out!
Chances are you have food in your pantry that has been there for some time. While expiration dates should be heeded for some items, others may have a longer shelf life than the label would have you believe. Keeping these tips in mind when spring cleaning your freezer and pantry can reduce waste and save money.
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In the pantry
Spices and dried herbs
There has long been the misconception that herbs and spices last only a few months, but that isn’t the case. Before wiping out your entire spice cabinet, do a simple smell test. Since these items don’t technically expire, but do lose their potency, taking a sniff will tell you if your herbs and spices still pack a punch. Even if dried herbs have lost their color but still have a strong smell when crushed in the palm of your hand, they are fine to use. Stored properly in an airtight container and in a dry, cool place, whole spices can last as long as four years, with ground spices and herbs lasting two to three years.
Disregard that date stamped on the top of the honey jar, because honey doesn’t actually expire. Although the honey can become darker or crystalized after long-term storage, it is still perfectly good. To reverse the crystallization, simply heat the jar slightly until the sugar dissolves. Keep honey tightly sealed and stored in a dry, dark cabinet for best results.
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In the freezer
If you’re throwing away a lot of freezer-burned meat from the depths of the freezer, a vacuum food sealer might be a good investment. Vacuum sealing allows for longer frozen storage by removing all the air from the bag, eliminating freezer burn and also letting you buy in bulk at a better price. It also creates a smaller package to store, since you can remove any bulky trays or containers and seal only the meat. With less volume per item, your freezer can be better organized.
Nuts are usually good for months after their recommended best by date, but you can make them last even longer by putting them in the freezer. Storing most nuts in the freezer can extend the shelf life for at least a year, and depending on the type of nut, up to several years.
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