HomeFoodWhen Do Sugar, Flour, Baking Soda, And Other Ingredients Expire?

When Do Sugar, Flour, Baking Soda, And Other Ingredients Expire?

Knowing when to discard food may be difficult, particularly when it comes to dried foods. Most packaged items are labeled with a use-by, sell-by, or best-by date. However, when it comes to kitchen cupboard basics like flour, sugar, and baking soda, you may have more time than expected to prepare those cookies.

Foodkeeper is an online resource maintained by the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Food Marketing Institute, and Cornell University. There is a storage guide with information on hundreds of goods and their optimal shelf life for freshness and quality. You can get answers to all your questions like when does sugar expire, how long does baking powder last, can icing sugar go bad, how long does sugar last, etc. Here’s a list of typical baking supplies at the back of your kitchen drawer.


Sugar, whether granulated, brown, or powdered, may be stored forever since it does not promote microbial development, although it should be used within two years. Sugar absorbs smells and moisture readily, so storing it in the refrigerator is not ideal. Keep it in an airtight container in a cold, dry area, such as the pantry, to avoid lumps.


White, refined flour, such as all-purpose or cake flour, may be kept for one to two years. After opening, keep it in an airtight container in a cold, dry area. The fridge or freezer will extend shelf life, but the pantry works just as well. Refined flour is unlikely to deteriorate, but discard if it stinks, looks musty, or shows indications of mold or bugs.

Whole-grain flours have a substantially lower shelf life because they include bran germ and bran, which oxidize with time. These will last from three months to a year, while nut and gluten-free flours normally last three to six months. After opening, keep whole-grain, nut, or gluten-free flour in airtight jars in the refrigerator. 

Baking Powder:

Baking powder typically lasts between six months and a year after opening. To see whether your baking powder is still OK, add one teaspoon to a basin of boiling water. If it fizzes and bubbles, the baking powder is still active and ready for use. To extend the container’s shelf life, keep it dry and cold at all times.

Baking Soda:

Baking soda, when unopened, may last remarkably long. In reality, it is valid for up to three years. If you’ve opened your baking soda, you should utilize it or dispose of it after six months. Baking soda and powder are essential baking ingredients; the fresher, the better.

Baking powder and baking soda lose their power over time. A faulty box of baking soda or baking powder, which modify many recipes, may ruin the science of baking, which involves exact measuring, sifting, and resting or rising. While they may be OK to consume for months beyond their typical shelf life, fresher is always better for baking.

Cocoa Powder And Chocolate Chips:

Cocoa powder contains flavanol, a natural preservative, so once opened, it may be stored for up to three years. Though it is sometimes labeled with a best-by date, indicating its optimum quality, you do not have to discard old cocoa powder when cooking a chocolate dish. Like other baking ingredients, Cocoa powder should be kept in an airtight jar in a cold, dry area.

Chocolate chips may survive two to four years if kept in an airtight container in a cold, dry area. Do not keep them in the refrigerator or freezer since they risk “blooming” from excessive temperature fluctuations, which may create dusting or staining on the chocolate’s surface. If you notice blooming, you may still use chocolate chips in cookies and other baked items; the taste and look will only be slightly altered.


Because yeast is a live microbe, it will ultimately die, whether you buy fresh, active, or quick. Yeast is tougher to detect but may make the difference between pillowy cinnamon buns and sad, unrisen disks.

Dry active yeast has a storage life of approximately a year, whereas instant yeast lasts around two years. Fresh yeast lasts approximately two weeks in the refrigerator and should not be frozen.

Though you should pay special attention to the expiry date of yeast, active or instant yeast may survive well beyond the best-by date if kept correctly. Combine one teaspoon of sugar and one packet of yeast in 1/4 cup warm water to test if the yeast is still active. Wait ten minutes. If it bubbles up, it is still safe to use.

Cream of Tartar:

Cream of tartar is a dry, acidic byproduct of winemaking often used in meringues and other sweets to aid stability. It’s normally used in small quantities, so you’re probably wondering whether the jar from the last time you baked snickerdoodles over the holidays is still fine. The good news is that cream of tartar may survive virtually forever if kept correctly in a cold, dry location. Trust your instincts if it’s way beyond its expiry date—it should smell somewhat acidic and be white and powdery.

Vanilla Extract:

Vanilla extract and other alcohol-based extracts have a shelf life of around one year when opened and two years when unopened. As with other pantry items, keep them at room temperature, away from heat and light. If you’re unsure if it’s still excellent, sniff; if the scent is extremely weak, it’s time to get a new bottle.


Cornstarch is the star of countless sweet and savory meals that need thickening, ranging from pie filling to stews and gravy. It may be kept forever in an airtight container in a cold, dry environment, much like sugar.


Finally, understanding the shelf life and suitable storage practices for baking elements is critical to producing tasty and successful baked items. Always verify the freshness of ingredients before using them in your recipes, and keep track of their expiry dates if available. Have fun baking!

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