Keep Foods Fresh After Opening

By Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, CDN
peanut butter

Serhiy Stakhnyk/iStock/Thinkstock

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- 2 days in the refrigerator.
Transfer opened canned fish to a sealed glass container or plastic bag. Will stay fresh after opening for 2 to 3 months in the pantry or 4 to 6 months in the refrigerator. If you've been wondering if you should house your peanut butter in the pantry or the fridge, you'll be glad to know either method works, so it's completely a matter of personal preference.

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 1 - 2 weeks in the pantry.
A refrigerator's moisture can cause coffee to develop off flavors, so store it in a dark place at room temperature. Transferring ground coffee to an airtight glass or plastic container can also prevent it from becoming stale.

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 6 months in the pantry. Olive oil tastes best at temperatures between 65 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.


Will stay fresh after opening for 1 week in the refrigerator.
If it has been less than a week and your yogurt develops a layer of liquid on top, don't throw it out. It's filled with nutritious whey protein. Simply stir it right back in and enjoy.

For a complete shelf life guide, download the free Is My Food Safe? app.

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