Whether you do a yearly kitchen cupboard clear-out, or more of an adhoc blitz when you spot something past its shelf-life, there could be some items in your larder that need to go even if they’re still in date.
It’s well-known we’re a nation of food wasters, so instead of buying bulk loads of self-raising flour to make scones, for example, when we realistically only bake them every other month, go for smaller quantities and top up more regularly if you need to – flour tends to taste dusty if not fresh.
Also, many items we think of as ‘store cupboard essentials’, like jam, ketchup, jars of olives and chutneys, should actually live in the fridge once open, which will increase their shelf-life. After all, there’s nothing more annoying than having to scrape the mould off a pot of strawberry jam.
Here are a few things you might want to bin now and rethink how you buy and use in future…
1. Dried herbs
These usually have a shelf life of around a year, as they lose their potency after that, but you can get the most out of them by making sure the lid’s always screwed on tight.
2. Vegetable oil
Keep this in a cool, dark place, like the back of your store cupboard and away from your cooker, as the heat will make the oil go funny. Don’t worry if it starts going cloudy though, that’s normal, it just means it’s got too cold, but it’s still OK to use.
Handy to have around the house as a healthy snack, nuts might give you a tummy ache if left open for more than a month, as they tend to grow mould. Keep in an airtight container.
So hard you’d think it could survive a nuclear apocalypse, but no, pasta softens over time if not kept in an airtight container after opening. Bin after a year.
5. Stock cubes
Same deal as herbs here – they’ll lose their flavour, so keep them wrapped tightly in their packaging and use them within a year of buying.
6. Dried fruit
Shelf life here is about three months, as once opened, currants, raisins and their cousins, sultanas, tend to go rock hard – and no-one wants to break their tooth on a scone do they?
No one likes throwing out teabags – and some of us even dry ‘em out after making a brew and reuse them. But generally speaking, unopened they’ll last a year, and this drops to just three months once they’re open, so don’t buy in bulk.
8. Nut butter
The old sniff test is quite reliable here, as the nut oil starts to smell rancid when it’s past its best. Once opened, peanut butter and co usually last around three months.
There’s a lot of debate around whether honey should be kept in the fridge or not, so it’s a personal choice, but runny honey tends to crystallise in the fridge and Manuka honey should be kept at temps between 18-25 degrees. Honey has a reputation for lasting forever, but should be good for around two years. Once opened, make sure it’s kept out of direct sun, keep the lid clean and use a separate knife or spoon to serve, so you don’t end up with butter (and bacteria) in it.