How long can I keep it? Here are answers

March 01, 1992|By John Tanasychuk | John Tanasychuk,Knight-Ridder News Service

One of the most frequently asked questions home economists are asked is: "How long can I keep it?"

The "it" can be anything from leftover turkey to bottled vanilla.

Here's a partial list based on information provided by the Oakland County (Mich.) Cooperative Extension office.

The cupboard:

Store foods in a cool, dry cabinet, not above ranges or refrigerators where warm air can cause products to lose quality. Extended storage may cause flavors to fade and change and reduce nutrients. Always look for dates before using.

* Baking powder: 18 months; see expiration date.

* Beans, dried: 12 months.

* Canned goods: 14 to 16 months.

* Cereal, ready-to-eat, unopened: 6 to 12 months; opened, 2 to 3 months.

L * Coffee, instant, unopened: 1 to 2 years; opened, 2 months.

* Dry soup mixes: 6 to 9 months.

* Fruit roll-ups: up to 1 year.

* Instant mashed potatoes: up to 1 year.

* Jams and jellies: 12 months.

* Microwave popcorn: up to 18 months.

* Pasta, dry: 2 years.

* Pickles: 18 months unopened; 1 month in fridge after opening.

* Popcorn: 2 years.

* Powdered drink mixes: 18 months to 2 years.

* ReaLemon juice: 15 months unopened; 6 months in fridge after opening.

* Salad dressings, unopened: 10 to 12 months.

* Spices and herbs: 1 to 2 years; longer for whole spices.

* Vanilla: 2 years.

The refrigerator:

-! * Keep temperature between 34

and 40 degrees. Keep foods covered and wrapped.

* Canned hams, unopened: 14 to 16 months.

* Cooked meat or leftovers containing meat: 3 to 4 days.

* Cooked poultry or leftovers containing poultry: 3 to 4 days.

* Cooked ham: 3 to 4 days for slices, 7 days whole.

* Cooked soups and stews, vegetable or meat: 3 to 4 days.

* Eggs: 3 weeks.

* Eggs: white and yolks separated, 2 to 4 days.

* Eggs, hard-cooked: 1 week (do not freeze).

* Ground meat or poultry: 1 to 2 days.

* Hot dogs, unopened: 2 weeks; opened, 1 week.

* Lunch meat, unopened: 2 weeks; opened, 3 to 5 days.

* Poultry, uncooked: 2 to 3 days.

* Red meat, uncooked: 2 to 3 days.

* Salad dressings, opened: 1 to 3 months.

* Spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce, opened: 5 days.

The freezer:

Keep temperature at zero degrees or below. Keep food well wrapped in moisture- and vapor-proof materials or in containers. Food that is frozen too long will lose quality.

* Cheese: hard cheeses 6 weeks; cheese foods 4 months.

* Cooked ham: 1 to 2 months.

* Cooked meat: 2 to 3 months.

* Cooked poultry: 4 months.

* Eggs: freeze white and yolks separately, 1 year.

* Fish, except shellfish: 6 months.

* Frozen dinners: 3 to 4 months.

* Ground meat or poultry: 3 to 4 months.

* Hot dogs: 1 to 2 months.

* Ice cream: 2 to 4 months.

* Lunch meat: 1 to 2 months (does not freeze well).

* Poultry, uncooked: 9 months for pieces, 1 year for whole.

* Red meat, uncooked: 6 to 12 months.

* Shellfish: 3 months.

?3 * Whipped topping (Cool Whip): up to 14 months.

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