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Keep Foods Fresh After Opening

Contributors: Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, CDN

Published: April 12, 2019

Reviewed: June 03, 2020

Keep Foods Fresh After Opening
Miroslav Pesek/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

When you're shopping for food, sell-by and use-by dates can provide helpful clues about freshness. But after you bring food home and open it, moisture, light and air can change its flavors and cause food to spoil even more quickly. Here's how to keep some of your favorite foods their freshest and tasting their very best.

Canned Tuna or Salmon

Will stay fresh after opening for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator.
Transfer opened canned fish to a sealed glass container or plastic bag.

Peanut and Other Nut Butters

Will stay fresh after opening for 2 to 3 months in the pantry or 3 to 4 months in the refrigerator.

If you've been wondering if you should store your peanut butter in the pantry or the fridge, you'll be glad to know either method works, unless it is a “natural” nut butter (with no added sugars or oils) – in which case it should be refrigerated to help prevent separation.

Packaged Deli Meats

Will stay fresh after opening for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
If you don't use unopened packages of deli meats within 2 weeks, you can also stash them in your freezer for 1 to 2 months. This works for hot dogs, too.

Dry Cereal

Will stay fresh after opening for 2 to 3 months in the pantry.
To help your cereal stay crunchy and tasty, fold down the package liner after opening the box.

Ground Coffee

Will stay fresh after opening for 2 to 5 weeks in the pantry or 6 to 12 months in the freezer.
Moisture can cause coffee to develop off flavors, transfer ground coffee to an airtight glass or plastic container to prevent it from becoming stale. For best quality, store it in a dark place at room temperature. If you do decide to freeze your coffee, make sure the container is airtight to keep out moisture.

Liquid Egg Substitute

Will stay fresh after opening for 3 days in the refrigerator.
As long as the package hasn't been opened, you can freeze liquid egg substitute for an entire year.

Spaghetti Sauce

Will stay fresh after opening for 4 days in the refrigerator.
Even though unopened, jarred spaghetti sauce has a shelf life of 18 months, it stays fresh for only a few days after opening, so buy it in small jars and use it quickly.

Olive Oil

Will stay fresh after opening for 3 to 5 months in the pantry.

Olive oil tastes best at temperatures between 65°F and 75°F. Because light and air can cause it to deteriorate, keep it tightly sealed in a dark location.

Vanilla Extract

Will stay fresh after opening for 1 year in the pantry.
Vanilla's delicate oils break down easily, so keep it tightly closed for maximum flavor.

Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, CDN is a nutrition consultant, journalist and author specializing in nutrition, health and wellness.

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