We’re all concerned about the safety of our food. We want to know where it comes from, how it’s made and we want reassurance that it’s fresh. But food safety isn’t limited to how something is grown, handled or distributed. Safety begins at home, and that brings me to today’s question:
When was the last time you really looked at the expiration dates on your condiments?
If you’re like most people, you have several bottles of mustard in your refrigerator; you might have a few bottles of olive oil, jam or jelly, hot sauces and marinades. And you certainly have a variety of bottled salad dressings.
That being the case, it’s time to assess what needs to be tossed and replaced. Here are your guidelines:
- Mayonnaise: The refrigerated shelf life of mayonnaise is just two months. If you can’t use it fast enough, buy a smaller container. It might be slightly more expensive, but you’ll save more in the long run by decreasing waste.
- Mustard: Whether you have Dijon, spicy brown or gourmet mustard, it will only last six to eight months in the refrigerator.
- Salsa: This might surprise you: salsa only lasts one month (opened) in the refrigerator. After that, mold spores begin to grow.
- Salad Dressing: After being open for three months, your salad dressing is done. Time to go.
- Jam & Jelly: Jams and Jelly have a bit more longevity. They’ll last one year, opened, refrigerated.
- Olives: I fall victim to buying too many olives and not eating them fast enough. Refrigerated, they only last one month.
- Hot Sauce: See salsa, above.
- Ketchup: Believe it or not, ketchup will only keep for one month, opened and refrigerated. Unopened in your pantry, it will last a year.
- Olive Oil: Once opened, most olive oil will keep for four to six months.
- Baking Powder: In our pantry, we each have a little orange box of this product that’s been open for a while, so throw it out if it’s older than three months.
- Flour: I store my flour in a canister which I label and date. If I don’t use all the flour within six to eight months, I throw it out and start again.
- Cocoa and Cocoa Mixes: These last one year, opened.
Bottom line? Buying in bulk isn’t necessarily better. Smaller condiment jars and bottles can save you money and keep you and your family safe from food borne illnesses.