Food Storage Chart - Food Storage Guidelines
Shelf Life of Food  - Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart

  Home    |   Recipe Indexes   |   Dinner Party Menus   |   Food History   |   Diet - Health - Beauty

Breads

Breads

 

Room Temperature
(70 F)

Refrigerator
(37 to 40 F)

Freezer
(0 F)

Comments

Breads, fresh

Store at room temperature. Use the date as a guide or use within 3 to 5 days.

Storing in the refrigerator promotes staling.

3 months

Over wrap well to prevent drying out; thaw at room temperature

Bread and rolls, unbaked dough

 

2 to 3 days

2 months

Sometimes dough doesn't rise as well if frozen

Bread Crumbs and Croutons

6 months

 

 

 

Muffins, rolls, quick breads

 

3 days

1 to 2 months

Wrap individually, pick in rigid containers to prevent crushing

Pancakes and waffles

 

2 days

1 month

Freeze with waxed paper between each two. Heat without thawing in a toaster or under broiler

Pastries, Danish, Doughnuts

 

Store at room temperature.  Best used within 1 to 3 days

3 months

 

Tortillas, corn or flour

 

1 week

3 months

Wrap well

Tube cans of rolls, biscuits, pizza dough, etc.

 

Use-by-date

Don't freeze

 

Ready-to-bake pie crust

 

Use-by-date

2 months

 

Cookie dough

 

Use-by-date unopened or opened

2 months

 
 

Baked Goods

Cakes

 

Room Temperature
(70 F)

Refrigerator
(37 to 40 F)

Freezer
(0 F)

Comments

Angel food & sponge cakes

 

3 days

4 to 6 months

Wrap well

Cheesecake

 

3 to 7 days

4 to 6 months

Wrap well

Fruit cakes

   

1 year

Wrap well

Layer cakes

 

Store at room temperature. Best used within 3 to 7 days
 

2 to 4 months

Wrap well. Butter frosting freezes well, fluffy egg white frostings don't

Cookies

Cookies, homemade and baked

2 to 3 weeks

 

4 to 6 months

Pack in airtight container

Cookies, store bought and packaged

2 months

 

8 to 12 months

 

Cookies, unbaked dough

 

2 to 3 days

6 months

Form refrigerator dough cookies in rolls; wrap tightly, thaw in refrigerator before slicing or dropping on cookie sheets
 

Pies

Chiffon pie, Pumpkin pie

 

2 to 3 days

1 month

 

Cream and Custard Pies

 

2 to 3 days

6 months

 

Fruit pies, baked

 

2 to 3 days

6 to 8 months

Wrap well; thaw at room temperature; heat in 350 degree F. oven about 15 minutes

Fruit pies, unbaked

   

8 months

Cut holes in upper crust to vent; bake unthawed

Pies, starch-thickened custard

 

1 to 2 days

Do not freeze

Fillings become watery and lumpy and pastry becomes soggy

Pies, nut, baked

 

4 to 5 days

6 months

Wrap well

Pie shells, unbaked

 

1 day

2 months

Fit in pie pans; prick crusts. Stack pie pans with 2 layers freezer paper between. Place in freezer bags. Either bake frozen or thaw in refrigerator

Quiche

 

2 to 3 days

6 months

 


Dairy Products

Dairy

 

Room Temperature
(70 F)

Refrigerator
(37 to 40 F)

Freezer
(0 F)

Comments

Butter


Margarine, Spread substitutes

 

1 to 3 months, unopened
2 to 3 weeks, opened

4 to 5 months, unopened
1 month, opened
 

9 months


1 year

Leave in original wrapping; overwrap well

 

Cheese, Hard (such as Cheddar, Swiss)

Cheese, parmesan, grated

Cheese Soft (such as Brie, camembert)

 

6 months, unopened

3 to 4 weeks, opened

1 week
 

6 months

1 to 2 months

6 months

It is recommended that you don’t freeze cheese! Freezing destroys the character of the cheese

If you do freeze, the cheese is best used in cooking; will crumble when sliced; thaw in refrigerator to minimize crumbling. Repackage in freezer bags
 

Cottage Cheese, Ricotta Cheese

 

1 week, opened
45 to 60 day, unopened

Doesn't freeze well

Separates, becomes grainy

Cream Cheese

Never expose cream cheese to room temperature for more than 2 hours or 1 hour at 90 F or higher.

2 weeks

Doesn't freeze well

Can be mixed with other ingredients and frozen; by itself becomes crumbly.

Cream-Whipped, ultra-pasteurized

Cream-Whipped, Sweetened

Cream-Aerosol can, real whipped cream

Cream-Aerosol can, non dairy topping

Cream, Half and Half
 

 

1 month

1 day

3 to 4 weeks

3 months

3 to 4 days

Doesn't freeze

1 to 2 months

Doesn't freeze

Doesn't freeze

4 months

Freeze small mounds of lightly sweetened whipped cream on cookie sheet; then repackage so the mounds won't be crushed; thaw in refrigerator or serve frozen. 


Texture changes

Eggnog, commercial

 

3 to 5 days

6 months

 

Ice Creams, Sorbets

 

Can't Refrigerate

1 to 2 months

Overwrap to prevent ice crystals, freezer burn


Milk: Whole, Reduced & Low Fat, & Fat Free

Milk Substitutes: Soy, Rice, and Almond


Buttermilk, fresh
Buttermilk, powdered

Condensed Milk, canned


Dry/Powdered Milk


Evaporated Milk, canned
 

 







3 to 5 years

12 to 23 months, unopened

12 to 23 months, unopened

12 to 23 months, unopened


7 days


85 days, unopened
7 to 10 days, opened

2 weeks


8 to 20 days, opened


8 to 20 days, opened


8 to 20 days, opened


1 month

 


3 months


Allow room for expansion in freezer container; thaw in refrigerator. Freezing affects flavor and appearance; use in cooking and baking.

 

Pudding

Package date

2 days after opening

Doesn't freeze

Can separate

Sour cream

 

7 to 21 days

Doesn't freeze

Separates when thawed

Yogurt

 

7 to 14 days

1 to 2 months

Texture changes

 

Eggs

 

Room Temperature
(70 F)

Refrigerator
(37 to 40 F)

Freezer
(0 F)

Comments

Fresh, in shell

 

3 to 5 weeks

Don't freeze

Shells break; eggs lose quality

Raw whites

 

2 to 4 days

1 year

Gently stir whites together; freeze in ice cube trays; remove blocks to plastic freezer bag when solid. Each contains about 2 tablespoons. 1 cube - 1 egg white.

Raw yolks

 

1 week

Don't freeze well

Yolks can clump

Hard cooked eggs

 

1 week

Don't freeze well

Whites become rubbery; water separates

Liquid pasteurized eggs, egg substitutes,
   

 

3 days, opened
10 days, unopened

Doesn't freeze well
1 year

If opened, read label instructions regarding freezing. Freeze if unopened.

Mayonnaise, commercial, refrigerate after opening

2 to 3 months, unopened

1 year, unopened
2 months, opened

Doesn't freeze

 
 

 

Fruits

Fruit, Fresh

       
 

Room Temperature
(70 F)

Refrigerator
(37 to 40 F)

Freezer
(0 F)

Comments

Commercially Frozen Fruits

   

1 year

 

Canned Fruits

 

12 to 24 months, unopened
opened - 2 to 3 days

 

Do not store in opened can. Store in airtight container.

Dried fruits

6 months

3 to 5 days, cooked

 

Keep cool, in airtight container; if possible, refrigerate

Apples

 

3 to 5 months

   

Apricots, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums

 

3 to 5 days

6 months

See preserving instructions for individual fruits

Avocados

2 to 3 days after ripened

5 to 10 days

   

Bananas

Store at room temperature

   

Freeze whole in skin or peel and mash; great in breads and cakes

Berries, cherries

 

2 to 3 days

Freeze individually on cookie sheets; repackage in heavy plastic bags

 

Cranberries

 

3 to 4 weeks

 

8 to 12 months

Grapefruit

7 days

2 weeks

4 to 6 months

Wrap cut surfaces to prevent loss of Vitamin C.

Grapes

 

1 to 2 weeks

   

Guavas, papayas

 

1 to 2 days

   

Kiwi Fruit

3 to 5 days after ripening

4 to 6 months if unripe.

   

Lemons

1 week

2 to 5 weeks

   

Limes

1 week

2 to 5 weeks

   

Melons

 

1 week

8 to 12 months

Wrap cut surfaces to prevent Vitamin C loss, control odors.

Oranges

3 to 4 days

5 to 6 weeks

   

Peaches

Ripen at room temperature

2 to 3 days

   

Pineapple

1 to 2 days

3 to 5 days

   

Tangerines

2 to 3 days

1 week

   

Watermelon

Uncut watermelon can be stored at room temperature for a few days
 

6 to 8 days

   

Fruit Beverages

Juices in cartons, fruit drinks, punch

 

3 weeks unopened
7 to 10 days opened

8 to 12 months

 

Meats

Deli & Vacuum-Packed Products

 

Room Temperature
(70 F)

Refrigerator
(37 to 40 F)

Freezer
(0 F)

Comments

Store-prepared (or homemade) egg, chicken, ham, tuna, macaroni salads
 

 

3 to 5 days

Doesn't freeze well

 

Hot dogs & Luncheon Meats

Hot dogs,
   opened package
   unopened package

 


1 week
2 weeks


1 to 2 months
1 to 2 months


Changes texture, flavor
Changes texture, flavor

Luncheon meats
   opened package
   unopened package
 

 


3 to 5 days
2 weeks


1 to 2 months
1 to 2 months


These lose flavor quickly; wrap tightly
These lose flavor quickly; wrap tightly

Bacon & Sausage

Bacon and pancetta

 

7 days

1 month

Leave unopened in original wrapping; over wrap well

Sausage, fresh; raw from chicken, turkey, pork, beef

 

1 to 2 days

1 to 2 months

Over wrap packages well

Smoked breakfast links, patties

 

7 days

1 to 2 months

Over wrap packages well

Hard sausage--pepperoni, jerky sticks

 

2 to 3 weeks

1 to 2 months

Keep in original packaging; over wrap well

Summer sausage--labeled "Keep Refrigerated"
   opened
   unopened
 

 


3 weeks
3 months


1 to 2 months
1 to 2 months

 

Ham, Corned Beef

Corned beef, in pouch with pickling juices

 

5 to 7 days

Drained, 1 month

 

Ham, canned--labeled "Keep Refrigerated"
   opened
   unopened

 


3 to 5 days
6 to 9 months


1 to 2 months
Doesn't freeze

 

Ham, fully cooked vacuum sealed at plant, undated, unopened

 

2 weeks

1 to 2 months

 

Ham, fully cooked vacuum sealed at plant, dated, unopened

 

"use by" date on package

1 to 2 months

 

Ham, fully cooked, whole

 

7 days

1 to 2 months

 

Ham, fully cooked, half

 

3 to 5 days

1 to 2 months

 

Ham, fully cooked, slices
 

 

3 to 4 days

1 to 2 months

 

Hamburger, Ground

Hamburger, ground beef

 

1 to 2 days

3 to 4 months

Remove from supermarket wrapping; wrap well in freezer plastic wrap; over wrap with heavy-duty aluminum foil

Ground turkey, veal, pork, lamb & mixtures of them

 

1 to 2 days

3 to 4 months

Remove from supermarket wrapping; wrap well in freezer plastic wrap; over wrap with heavy-duty aluminum foil
 


Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb, Pork

Steaks

 

3 to 5 days

6 to 12 months

Wrap pieces individually, then over wrap tightly

Chops

 

3 to 5 days

4 to 6 months

Wrap pieces individually, then over wrap tightly

Roasts

 

3 to 5 days

4 to 12 months

Wrap pieces individually, then over wrap tightly

Variety meats--tongue, liver, heart, kidneys, chitterlings

 

1 to 2 days

3 to 4 months

 

Pre-stuffed, uncooked pork chops, lamb chops, or chicken breast stuffed with dressing
 

 

1 day

Don't freeze well

 

Soup & Stews

Chili

   

4 to 6 months

All-meat chili freeze better than those containing beans, which can break down & become mushy

Soups, broth-based

 

3 to 4 days

4 months

Freeze in usable amounts or individual servings

Soups, cream-based, such as chowders, bisques

 

2 days

Do not freeze

Can curdle and separate

Stock

 

3 to 4 days

4 to 6 months

Freeze in usable amounts

Stews

 

3 to 4 days

4 to 6 months

Freeze in usable amounts
 

Meat Leftovers

Cooked meat and meat casseroles

 

3 to 4 days

2 to 3 months

 

Gravy and meat broth
 

 

1 to 2 days

2 to 3 months

 

Fresh Poultry

Chicken, turkey, or duck, whole

 

1 to 2 days

1 year

Keep in original packaging

Chicken or turkey, pieces

 

1 to 2 days

9 months

Over wrap well

Giblets
 

 

1 to 2 days

3 to 4 months

 

Cooked Poultry

Fried chicken

 

3 to 4 days

4 months

 

Cooked poultry casseroles

 

3 to 4 days

4 to 6 months

 

Pieces, plain

 

3 to 4 days

4 months

Best frozen in stock, used in soups, casseroles

Pieces covered with broth, gravy

 

1 to 2 days

6 months

 

Chicken nuggets, patties
 

 

1 to 2 days

1 to 3 months

 

Pizza

Pizza
 

 

3 to 4 days

1 to 2 months

 

Stuffing

Stuffing, cooked

 

3 to 4 days

1 month

 


Seafood and Fish

Fish

Lean fish (cod, flounder, haddock, sole, etc.)

 

1 to 2 days

6 months

remove from light supermarket wrap; wrap well or use ice method below.

Fatty fish (salmon, bluefish, mackerel, salmon, etc.)

 

1 to 2 days

2 to 3 months

Place on cookie sheet, loosely covered with foil. Freeze. Dip in water several times; freeze to form thin ice glaze; wrap well; over wrap well

Cooked fish

 

3 to 4 days

4 to 6 months

Texture becomes mushy

Smoked fish

 

14 days or date on vacuum package

2 months in vacuum package
 

Vacuum package

Shellfish

Clams, oysters, scallops; live

   

7 to 10 days

Remove from shells; freeze in their own liquid in airtight plastic freezer bags or containers; raw scallops easily become rubbery

Cooked shellfish

 

3 to 4 days

3 months

 

Crab, cooked

 

1 to 2 days

2 months

If in shell, leave in shell; dip in water and freeze to form thin ice glaze to prevent drying out and becoming stringy; then repackage

Fish Sticks

   

18 months

 

Lobster tails, raw

   

3 months

Over wrap original wrapping well

Lobster & Crab, live

 

same day purchased

   

Shrimp, crayfish, squid, shucked clams, & mussels; raw

 

1 to 2 days

3 to 6 months

Dip in water, freeze, to form ice glaze; place in freezer plastic bags

Shrimp, cooked

   

Don't freeze

Texture becomes mushy

Shrimp, breaded, commercial

     

1 year

 

Staples or Pantry Items

Staples or Pantry Items

Room Temperature
(70 F)

Refrigerator
(37 to 40 F)

Freezer
(0 F)

Comments

Baby Food, canned

12 months, unopened
2 days, opened

     

Baking Powder

18 months, unopened
6 months, opened

   

Keep dry and covered.

Baking Soda

2 years, unopened
6 months, opened

   

Keep dry and covered.

Barbecue Sauce

1 year, unopened

6 months, opened

 

 

Biscuit Mix

12 to 18 months

     

Bouillon Cubes or Granules

2 years

   

Keep dry and covered.

Brownie Mix

9 to 12 months

     

Cake Mix

9 to 12 months

     

Candies

 

2 to 4 months

6 months

Chocolate-coated varieties may develop white bloom on outside from temperature; thaw in refrigerator
 


Catsup/Ketchup, Chili Sauce, Cocktail Sauce

12 months, unopened
1 month, opened

   

Refrigerate for longer storage

Cereals, ready-to-eat

6 to 12 months
(opened & unopened)

   

Refold package liner tightly after opening

Chili Powder

6 months

 

 

 

Chocolate

semi-sweet, 18 months
unsweetened, 18 months

   

Keep in a cool place

Chocolate Syrup

2 years, unopened

opened - 6 months

 

Cover tightly and refrigerate after opening

Cocoa Mixes


Cocoa, Baking
 

8 months, unopened
3 to 6 months, opened

24 months
 

   

Cover tightly

Coconut, shredded
(canned or packaged)

unopened - 1 year
 

opened - 6 months
 

 

Refrigerate after opening

Coffee, cans

Coffee, instant


Coffee, whole bans
 

unopened - 2 years

unopened - 1 to 2 years
opened - 2 months

1 to 2 weeks
 

   

Storing coffee at room temperature is the most convenient method of storage. It works well for coffee that will be consumed within one to two weeks of purchase.

Cornmeal

18 months

   

Keep tightly closed

Cornstarch

Indefinite

   

Keep tightly closed

Crackers

6 months

 

3 months

Freeze "sleeves" in heavy plastic bags

Flour, white

Flour, whole wheat

Flour, bread

6 to 8 months

6 months

6 to 8 months

1 year

1 year

 

1 to 2 years

1 to 2 years

1 year

 

Store in refrigerator

 

Gelatin, all types

18 months

   

Keep in original containers

Grits

12 months

   

Store in airtight container

Herbs, dried

Herbs, fresh

6 to 12 months

 

1 week

1 to 2 years

 

Honey

12 months, unopened and opened

   

Cover tightly. If crystallizes, warm jar in pan of hot water

Horseradish

1 year, unopened

4 to 6 monrha

 

 

Hot Sauce

3 years

 

 

 

Jelly, Jam & Preserves

unopened - 12 months

opened - 6 months

 

Refrigerate after opening

Maple Syrup

1 year, unopened

3 years, opened

 

 

Marshmallow Cream

unopened - 3 to 4 months

     

Marshmallows

2 to 3 months

   

Keep in airtight container

Mayonnaise

unopened - 2 to 3 months

opened - 2 to 3 months

 

Refrigerate after opening

Molasses

unopened - 12 months
opened - 6 months

   

Keep tightly closed. Refrigerate to extend storage life.

Mustard, prepared yellow

unopened - 2 years
opened 6 to 8 months

   

May be refrigerated. Stir before using.

Nuts (Nuts; hazelnuts, walnut, pecans), in shell

Nuts, vacuum can

4 months
 

3 months

1 year


 

2 years


 

Refrigerate after shelling. Freeze for longer storage.

 

Milk (condensed or evaporated, canned

Milk, non-fat dry
 

12 months +

unopened - 6 months
opened - 3 months

   

Invert cans every 2 months
 

Store in airtight container

Olives, bottled or canned

1 year

     

Pancake Mixes

6 to 9 months

     

Pasta (dry spaghetti, macaroni, etc.)

2 years

   

Once opened, store in airtight container

Peanut Butter

unopened - 6 to 9 months
opened - 2 to 3 months

   

Refrigeration not necessary, but will keep longer if refrigerated.

Pectin, liquid
 

Pectin, dry

opened - 1 month
unopened - 1 year

1 year

     

Pickles

unopened - 1 to 2 years

     

Pie Crust Mix

unopened - 8 months

     

Popcorn

1 to 2 years

   

Keep in airtight container

Potatoes, Instant

6 to 12 months

     

Pudding Mixes

12 months

     

Rice, white

Rice, flavored or herb

2 years +

6 months

   

Keep tightly closed

Salad Dressings, bottled

unopened - 10-12 months
opened -3 months

   

Refrigerate after opening

Salad Oils (corn, canola)

Olive Oil

18 months

24 months

     

Sauces & Gravy Mixes

6 to 12 months

     

Shortening

unopened - 18 months
opened - 6 to 8 months

     

Spices, whole

Spices, ground
 

1 to 2 years

6 to 12 months

 

2 to 3 years

1 to 2 years

Store in airtight container in a dry place.


Sugar, granulated

Sugar, brown

Sugar, confectioners or powdered

Sugar, sweeteners
 

2 years +

4 months

18 months

2 years +

   

Put in airtight container and cover tightly

Syrups

12 months

   

Keep tightly closed. Refrigerate to extend storage life.

Tea, bags

Tea, instant

Tea, loose
 

18 months

3 years

2 years
 

   

Store in airtight container

Tofu

 

1 week

5 months

Change storage water every day or two after opening.

Vanilla Extract


2 years, unopened
2 months, opened
 

   

Keep tightly closed

Vinegar
 

2 years, unopened
12 months, opened
 

   

Keep tightly closed and store in a cool, dark area.

Yeast, dry or frozen compressed

Vacuum-sealed bag
 

Package expiration date

Indefinitely

 

1 to 2 years

 
 

Vegetables

Vegetables

Room Temperature
(70 F)

Refrigerator
(37 to 40 F)

Freezer
(0 F)

Comments

Commercially Frozen

   

8 to 12 months

Store in original package

Canned Vegetables

1 year

3 to 5 days, opened

 

Do not store in the opened can. Store in airtight container.

Artichokes

 

1 week

   

Asparagus

 

3 to 5 days

8 to 12 months

 

Beets, carrots

 

2 weeks

8 to 12 months

 

Beans, broccoli, lima beans, peas, summer squash

 

3 to 6 days

8 to 12 months

 

Bell Peppers

 

1 to 2 weeks

3 to 4 months

Freeze raw, slice in strips or dice

Cabbage

 

1 week

Do not freeze

To watery to freeze well

Cauliflower

 

1 week

8 to 12 months

 

Celery, chilies

 

1 week

8 to 12 months

 

Corn

 

Use immediately for best flavor

8 to 12 months

 

Garlic bulbs

Garlic cloves, individual

3 to 4 months

5 to 10 days

 

You can freeze whole, unpeeled heads and remove cloves as you need them

Store in a cool, dark, and dry location (dampness is the enemy of garlic, so store away from stove and sink).

Green onions

 

3 to 5 days

Do not freeze

Become limp

Greens: collards, kale, mustard, spinach, Swiss chard

 

3 to 5 days

8 to 12 months

 

Green beans

 

1 week

8 to 12 months

 

Lettuce and salad greens

 

1 week

Do not freeze

Too watery; becomes limp

Mushrooms

 

1 to 2 days

8 to 12 months

Slice thinly and saute first, otherwise they become rubbery and lose flavor

Radishes

 

2 weeks

   

Squash, hard

3 to 6 months

     

Tomatoes

   

3 to 4 months

Cut in wedges, freeze in usable portions in freezer bags. Use in cooked dishes.

 

 Contact Linda Stradley - By Google

What's Cooking America copyright 2004 by Linda Stradley - United States Copyright TX 5-900-517- All rights reserved. - Privacy Policy