Long-Term Shelf Life & Nutrient Degradation
Most of us have some items sitting in our pantries that haven’t seen the light of day for at least a year. You go to the store, you see something interesting, throw it in the cart, and then … you forget it’s there. Later, you might forage through your pantry and rediscover it. Is it still okay to eat? Does it still have any nutritional value?
Certain types of food have a longer shelf life than others. Dried beans, for instance, will remain edible essentially forever. Unopened maple syrup, popcorn, and salt are some other foods that don’t necessarily have an expiration date.
Other foods have a shorter shelf lifespan. Canned tuna, for instance, can last for up to five years while rice is good for 10 years or longer.
Even though foods are often fine to eat past their expiration dates (see our article HERE on expiration dates), the quality can begin to degrade after a period of time. Manufacturers want you to experience the best quality they have to offer, and they know that the likelihood of you experiencing their best product is diminished after a particular period of time, hence the expiration dates.
Visit this ARTICLE for more information on product shelf life.
Some foods do lose nutritional value over time. Fresh produce degrades as it breaks down, and cheese shouldn’t be stored in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Don’t store bread in your refrigerator because it goes stale faster. For more shelf life tips, visit this ARTICLE.
The bottom line is that some foods will remain usable and nutritious for many years just hanging out in your pantry. Others need to be rotated in and out to keep your life primed.