Any pantry of a kitchen that sees regular baking, is full of staples that are used in pretty much all kinds of recipes. But how long have they been sitting on the shelf before they become unfit to use? Find out more.
Most of us are guilty of buying a giant bottle of vanilla extract or a huge bag of flour simply because you managed to get it for a lightning deal. In reality, if you happen to be one of those people who bakes just because they enjoy it, you’d know that expired baking ingredients can greatly alter the taste and texture of recipes. That said, before you dive into your pantry headfirst to extract whatever ingredients that might have been around way past their date, here are few things to look out for, especially with commonly used baking staples.
While flour is usually considered to be a non-perishable product, it only has the capacity to stay fresh for three months, if not stored properly. Any flour that is purchased, comes in paper bags or packets, which, once opened, must be transferred immediately to an air-tight container. Doing so helps extend the shelf life of flour by two more years. Similarly, alternate types of flour like almond, buckwheat or oat, should be stored the same way since they have a chance of going bad much sooner than regular flour.
Unlike flour, granulated white sugar has an indefinite expiration date. Sugar is technically a preservative in jams and jellies, so when it is stored in a dark, dry place, it stays in top condition for a long time. However, ingredients like brown sugar, which has a higher percentage of moisture content compared to regular or superfine sugar, can harden when exposed to air for a prolonged period of time. The ideal way to store brown sugar would be to put it in the freezer and let it thaw for a few hours before use.
Apart from baking, baking soda also has a varied number of domestic uses like deodorizing, removing stains and deep-cleaning utensils and clothes. Baking soda, unlike most other baking staples, has a much shorter shelf life than usual and stays in usable condition only for a span of six months. Extend the shelf life of your baking soda by placing it in a sealed container that is within your pantry or cabinet. To test its freshness, sprinkle a pinch in a bowl of vinegar to see if it turns fizzy.
Similar to baking soda, baking powder also comes with a limited shelf life and is sensitive to being exposed to moisture or humidity. The downside behind using expired baking powder is that your recipe will not have the desired rise or fluff and fall flat, resulting in a dense end product. Storing baking powder in a cool, dry place in an air-tight jar is the best way to maintain its utility for longer.
Vanilla extract is probably one of the most extensively used ingredients in baking and can last for ages, if refrigerated or stored in a cool place, even after a bottle has been opened. It is ideal to smell the vanilla extract if you plan on using it after a long time, to check if it continues to have a potent scent. In any way that it might appear to have reduced or become faint, the ideal way out would be to replace it with a new bottle.