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Jun 28, 2013 11:49 PM

How old is a five-year-old bottle of Worcestershire in dog years?

In happy anticipation of new kitchen cabinets, I just got up on the stepladder and found unused, and in many cases unopened, Worcestershire sauce, nuoc mam, Liquid Smoke, Jiffy cornbread mix, barbecue sauce, baking powder, dehydrated cherries (a gift), brown sugar, maple sugar, and more, some three to five years past the best-by date. I never take expiration dates literally, but I'm wondering if these really are beyond hope.

A secondary question would be: anybody have a good strategy for making sure staples don't get lost and forgotten simply because they are too high for their five-foot-three owner to see on a daily basis?

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  1. Well, none of these is likely to kill you, no matter how old they get. The cornbread and baking powder have likely lost their leavening oomph, though, and should probably just be tossed.

    As to strategies to prevent this, I have much the same problem (being 5'1"), and I haven't found a solution either.

    1. My strategy is to not have much stuff I don't use often.
      My preserving is below waist-height (earthquakes you know...)
      But I think professional cooking turned me into a bit of a human stocktake: I have a pretty accurate mental list of drystore/freezer/fridge/garden ingredients.
      Many you mention have a pretty indefinite shelf-life, so maybe it's mainly a matter of avoiding overstocking.

      1. 1.75 years. (kidding) web and pippi both offer good responses. sealed bottles - I wouldn't think twice about using in 10 years unless oozing (esp. the nuoc mam and worc... - they are by definition rancid from the start), the Jiffy I may test for need of powder.

        otherwise yeah the weirdo things folks think they need to give you (a double hinged teflon omelette pan, really?) get shoved up there and all the other useable stuff is stored in nearby sight. or even better shove your tax records into those sad forgotten overhead cupboards and put all that dumb once a year stuff in the bottom drawer of the dresser in the guest room.

        if you haven't ordered the cabinets yet, consider leaving the space above open to the ceiling as a dust magnet/place for plants/opportunity for uplighting. as what's the point of creating places to forget things?

        1. I wouldn't keep the baking mixes, but as to your question in the title of the thread... ummm, 5 or 6 minutes.

          2 Replies
          1. re: wyogal

            truly. our lives are a brief flash compared to those of bottled salty sauces.

            1. re: hill food


              Thanks all. It actually wasn't a question of overstocking, but of thinking I would ever use some of this stuff in the first place. The problem is that I live in Italy (not, of course, actually a problem) and can't just lay hands on cornbread mix and baking powder any time I want it. Trouble is, I turned out never to want it. So I'll save the bottles (have since found an unopened bottle of soysauce that expired in 2008), and toss the dry.

          2. Went through that last time we moved. The number of tied off half bags of macaroni and the like showed me the error of my ways. Now I try to store things high in back to low in front so I can see at least the corners. Plus I try to clump things based on similar uses...stuff for baking, condiments, etc. Except for things that might go rancid like olive oil or flour, when I find something past its due date unless it might have turned dangerous or gross, I just focus on using it up. I regularly buy things like fancy mustard at expiration date sales.