In the Cupboard

How long do nonrefrigerated foods keep their quality? That depends on how carefully you store them. For safe, dry storage, store food for keeps!

  • Keep your cupboards and pantries clean, dry, dark, and cool—preferably away from heat-producing appliances. Ideally 50° F to 70° F is the best storage temperature range. High temperatures (over 100° F) lower the quality of canned foods.
  • Organize your cupboards with older cans up front for first use. The good news is: canned foods do have a long shelf life. Stored properly, most unopened canned foods stay edible and keep their nutritional quality well beyond two years. Although the food is still safe to eat for a long time, the color and texture of the food may change after a while.
  • Be alert for food spoilage. Never use food from cans that are cracked, bulging, or leaking or that spurt liquid when opened. Food may be contaminated with deadly botulism organism. Toss—don't taste!
  • Store opened packages of food in dry, airtight containers. That keeps out insects and rodents and keeps food from absorbing odors.
  • Store foods away from kitchen chemicals and refuse. As important, keep chemicals and refuse away from places where food is prepared and eaten.
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