We don't really understand how you could forget about a jar of peanut butter in pantry, but it's bound to happen to someone. No one wants to throw out food that is still good to eat. So how long do pantry foods last before they are spoiled or, in many cases, just lose their freshness and flavor?
The shelf life of any food depends on certain basic factors. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) gives general guidelines for storing food on our shelves at home.
Temperature: Keep all foods stored in a cool, dry place with limited light and heat. Some appliances can produce heat.
Time: Canned foods and staples have a relatively long shelf life, but USDA recommends only buying what you expect to use within the time recommended on the label for each product. At home, put the date on each package and use the oldest first. Your geographic area will affect recommended storage time: warm and humid climates can shorten shelf life.
When you buy: Purchase fresh-looking cans with labels that are not torn or dusty. This may indicate old stock. Carefully check for dents in cans before buying. Do not purchase bulging cans, says USDA.
But what about our favorite foods—peanut butter, peanuts and peanut products?
Peanut butter’s shelf life may depend on the way you store it. Follow the guide above and remember to store peanuts in airtight containers. An open jar of peanut butter stays fresh up to three months in the pantry. After that, it’s recommended to store the peanut butter in the fridge (where it can maintain its quality for another 3-4 months). If you don’t refrigerate, oil separation can occur. Here’s a run-down.
|Food||Average Shelf Life in Pantry|
|Peanut Butter, unopened||6-9 months||Refrigeration not needed|
|Peanut Butter, opened||2-3 months||Lasts 6 -9 months in refrigerator|
|Peanuts: Bagged, in the shell or out||1-2 months||Lasts 4-6 months in refrigerator|
|Peanuts: in cans or jars, unopened||2 years|
|Peanut Flour, unopened||1 year|
|Peanut Flour, opened||2-3 months||Lasts up to 9 months in refrigerator|
|Peanut Oil, roasted, aromatic, unopened||9 months|
|Peanut Oil, roasted, aromatic, opened||2 months||Lasts 4-6 months in refrigerator|
|Peanut Oil, refined, unopened||1 year|
|Peanut Oil, refined, opened||4-6 months|