Looking to do a bit of spring cleaning? The best place to start is the center of any home, the kitchen. The experts at Taste of Home have unveiled a list of their eight top tips for spring cleaning your kitchen—so get cracking on that freezer, and finally get around to organizing your pantry—you’ll feel all the better for it.
1. Keep or Can? Bottled and Canned Goods
You can actually keep expired canned products as long as the can is intact and not damaged, but use the mantra “When in doubt, throw it out.” If unopened but close to expiring, keep them only if you’re going to use them before the expiration date, otherwise donate them to a local food bank. And that barely used bottle of sesame oil, box of cake flour, or package of dry milk powder that are still good? Don’t toss those either. Go to tasteofhome.com and use our Advanced Recipe Search to find recipes that will deliciously use up your odds and ends.
2. Perfectly Pack Pastas, Grains, Dried Beans and Rice
Once you’ve opened up a box or package of dried pasta, grains or rice, place in food-grade airtight containers; they’ll stay fresher longer and make you look super organized!
3. Get the Best Bang-for-Your-Buck with Baking Soda
Don’t toss baking soda that’s gone beyond its expiration date. Buy a new one for baking and use the old one as your magic ingredient for removing burned food from the bottom of a pan. Do this by sprinkling it in the pan, adding enough water to cover the blackened portion and simmer for a few minutes. You can also clean your sink with it and use as a drain freshener by using a tablespoon or two of baking soda in the drain along with 1/4 cup or so of vinegar.
4. Your Nose Knows with Oils
Give those oils in the cupboard a sniff, especially nut oils. If they smell a bit off (they could be rancid) it’s time to toss and get new ones.
5. Give Nuts the Big Freeze
Just as with oils, nuts don’t stick around forever. In fact, you might want to think about freezing the nuts and only removing what you need, leaving the remaining frozen. You can also toast that bag of walnuts before freezing it; this will help you save some time when preparing those Big & Buttery Chocolate Chip Cookies you love later on.
6. Sharpie Your Spices
Keep spices for 18 months tops! When buying new, write the date on the bottom of the container with a sharpie to help remind you how old they really are.
7. Take Tabs on Your Freezer
The snow’s finally melted outside, so let’s get it out of the freezer, too. Toss anything with frosty ice crystals or freezer burn. But before re-stocking your freezer, create an inventory of what’s left and always keep your list updated and at hand so you don’t have to throw out good intentions next year (like that ham bone from Easter 2013 that you were going to use in grandma’s recipe for split pea soup this past winter).
8. Follow the FIFO rule (First In, First Out)
In both your pantry and the fridge, place newer items behind older foods so that you use the older food first.
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