Checking the expiration date of food items that we buy has become a common and necessary practice these days. The risk of getting sick from food that’s past its prime is well and truly real. Not all foods, however, have a short shelf life. If stored or fermented properly, many everyday food products can last for months and even years. In fact, many of these foods only get better with age.
You must have already heard a number of times that cheese and wine last really long and taste better with age. Apart from these two, there are a number of other food products that are safe to eat and retain their quality even after a long time. Here is a list of 9 such long-lasting foods that retain their taste and quality for months, if not years.
Pickles are great, aren’t they? You can use them as a side dish to flavorful meals, as an added ingredient on sandwiches, and even as an evening snack. The good thing about them is that they last really long as well – almost 1-2 years past the expiration date printed on the jar. Keep in mind, though, that this will also depend on how you store them.
If the pickles are refrigerated or properly sealed in the pantry, they will last for up to 18 months easily and will remain fresh before they are opened. Once the pickle jar has been opened, it will remain good for at least a few months. However, if you notice that the pickles are appearing to be slippery, excessively soft, or the pickle water becomes a lot cloudier, then it’s time to discard them.
2. Coffee Beans
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. While most of us buy coffee in powdered or ground form, there are many purists who prefer the process of grinding the coffee beans on their own. You will be surprised to know that roasted coffee beans have a long shelf life.
Since the beans are dry, the risk of bacteria, yeast, or mold growth is minimal. Storing the coffee beans for about a month in the pantry and 3 to 6 months in the freezer will ensure optimal freshness. Packages of roasted beans have a best-by date, but they should remain safe for consumption for months or even years after the date if they have been stored properly.
3. Cooked Vegetable Soup
For a chilly day, a hot bowl of soup works wonders on the body and the mood, doesn’t it? However, did you know that making the soup a couple of days in advance can really enhance its taste? Leading chefs have said that letting soups sit for a while before eating enables the flavors to soften and mix more evenly.
If stored properly, cooked vegetable soup will last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. You can further extend the life of a vegetable soup by freezing in airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. In the freezer, it will remain good for consumption for about 4 to 6 months. Do note that this soup should be kept constantly frozen at 0°F in the freezer to retain its quality.
4. Uncooked Rice
If it is kept free from any contaminants, the shelf life of most uncooked rice can be indefinite. White, wild, arborio, jasmine, and basmati rice are some of the more popular rice varieties that can all have a remarkably long shelf life if stored properly. The only exception here is brown rice, as it has a higher oil content.
For keeping uncooked rice fresh, store it in a cool, dry area. Once the package has been opened, keeping the rice in a sealed airtight container is the best way forward. You can also keep it in the original package, but in that case, it should be placed inside a resalable durable freezer bag.
Honey isn’t just healthy and tasty; it is also an incredibly long-lasting food item. Pure and raw honey (not processed, heated, or filtered) has an indefinite shelf life, but it needs to be stored properly as well. The best part of honey is that it doesn’t spoil and it doesn’t need refrigeration. Honey has low pH, has almost no water content, and is filled with sugar. Thus, any bacteria that attempt to make its home in honey are driven out.
All you need to do to is to ensure that you don’t drop any food particles inside the honey jar and not to leave the lid open. Unopened honey will stay perfectly fine for years to come. Heavily processed honey, however, will begin to deteriorate slowly over time. This is where you need to choose your honey smartly. The best way to store honey is to keep it at room temperature.
Vinegar’s shelf life is quite long, and it usually does not even expire. All types of vinegar – white, red wine, apple cider, white wine, balsamic, or even tarragon – are by nature self-preserving. Studies have been conducted on it by the Vinegar Institute and it was confirmed that vinegar’s shelf life is almost indefinite. The primary reason for this is its acid nature, which repels germs. Best of all, this useful condiment does not need refrigeration.
Distilled vinegar will remain almost unchanged over an extended period of time. There might be some changes seen in a few types of vinegar in terms of taste, but they will still be safe and usable. Bear in mind, however, that if not stored well, the quality of vinegar will decline over time. Store vinegar in the pantry or cabinet away from light and abrupt changes in heat.
For those who may not know, Sauerkraut is a type of fermented cabbage with great health benefits. This food item originated in China more than 2,000 years ago and has survived the test of time to become a famous side dish, and even a condiment in many countries.
There is a lot of conflicting information regarding sauerkraut’s longevity. Like other fermented foods, sauerkraut has a best-by date or sell-by date on the label. It can be stored in the refrigerator or kept in the pantry or kitchen cabinets. As long as the package is unopened, sauerkraut can easily last for 6 to 8 months.
An opened can of sauerkraut that is kept at room temperature will last 5-7 days, or even twice as long if kept in the fridge. Because it is preserved in a sugar and vinegar solution – which is known to extend the shelf life of any dish – sauerkraut doesn’t spoil easily. Its pickling solution also inhibits bacterial growth and the product will only go bad if it isn’t stored properly.
Kombucha, the fizzy drink that has become extremely popular in recent times, is basically a fermented tea that has been consumed for thousands of years. It is a healthy drink that is rich in beneficial probiotics.
The store-bought variety of Kombucha usually has a best-by date on the label. However, if you keep it properly refrigerated, it can last for at least 3 months in the fridge. Beyond that, its taste might alter a little. Keep in mind that, if you notice mold forming in the Kombucha bottle or near the cap, then you must discard it.
Mustard is a well-known condiment and is generally considered as the famous sidekick to ketchup. However, not many know that it can outlast ketchup in terms of shelf life. Since mustard is pretty acidic in nature, it can easily last for a few months past its best-by date. An unopened bottle of mustard will easily last for a year, while an opened bottle should stay fresh for about 8 -12 months in the fridge. But if the jar isn’t tightly sealed, the mustard might become dry on the edges very soon.
Where you store mustard after opening is an important factor in its longevity. Storing it in the fridge will be better than a cabinet in the kitchen, as it can retain good quality for much longer in the colder environment. There are a number of varieties of mustards out there today. Do remember that the mustard with a higher amount of acid will last longer than milder varieties, like honey mustard.