We’ve all heard or experienced the pantry horror stories. You’re ready to bake an amazing dessert, and you open a bag of flour or sugar only to find unwanted pests, hard clumps or both. And there’s nothing sweet about that. Don’t let these discoveries turn you off from storing these baking staples. All it takes is a little time and knowledge to store common baking ingredients.
Not all baking ingredients are equal. Each deserves a little bit of attention to find the perfect place and packaging. We’ve rounded up 10 common baking ingredients and outlined just how you should store them in your kitchen.
Overall, you’ll want to select a grouping of sealed containers. The type depends on your space availability and where you plan to store the common baking ingredients. If you want them out on the counter, search for something that fits within your décor. Storing in the pantry? Plastic containers might be your best bet. Just make sure that no matter what you choose, that the containers are airtight. Have a labeler or sharpie and tape handy. You’ll want to write the “best-by-date” on each and every common baking ingredients you store.
Flour should be stored in a sealed container in a cool pantry. This means the space should never go above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. All-purpose flour can last 1 to 2 years if stored in this way. Each time you open your flour, give it a sniff. You’ll be able to tell if it’s gone rancid.
Brown sugar should be stored in the pantry, or another dry and cool area, in a sealed container. We personally like to double up with brown sugar. We place the sugar in a resealable, airtight plastic bag and then place in a larger container. Never refrigerate brown sugar. If you’d like, you can freeze it if you live in a very dry climate.
Baking powder can be stored in its original packaging in the pantry or a dark and cool cupboard. Just make sure the lid is shut tightly. Storage in a refrigerator or freezer is not recommended. The condensation in the fridge can make the powder react in the can. To test your baking powder for freshness, mix ½ tsp. with ¼ c. water. It will bubble if still fresh.
The beautiful thing about storing granulated sugar is that, provided you don’t have a pest control problem, it has an indefinite shelf life. This means a variety of storage methods are effective. Again, the key is to create an airtight seal to keep moisture out. You can either place sugar in airtight canisters or in resealable, airtight bags.
Keep your vanilla extract at a cool temperature in a dark environment. Don’t store vanilla in the refrigerator or freezer. Lower temperatures will make your vanilla extract cloudy. If you store it properly, this extract can last indefinitely, however, it’s recommended to use vanilla within five years for the best flavor.
Baking soda should be stored similarly to baking powder. Some prefer to take baking soda out of its original packaging to keep it airtight in a bag or container. Just be sure your baking soda is away from spices or other pungent smells, as it absorbs odors. Even through the container you choose, the baking soda can absorb whatever smell is around it. Baking soda will last in this manner for 2-3 years. If you are using a box of baking soda in your refrigerator to absorb odors, don’t use the same box for baking. See baking powder above for proper storage.
Unopened yeast should be stored in a cool and dry place. Once opened, the yeast must be refrigerated or frozen in an airtight container. Yeast should be used within four to six months after opening.
Powdered sugar can be stored the exact same way as granulated sugar.
One cool thing about salt is that it won’t go rancid when exposed to air. Oftentimes, people store small amounts of salt in covered dishes and salt pigs on their counters for easy pinching and tossing. You could certainly do the same. Otherwise, get it into an airtight container in the pantry. A word of warning: Don’t store your salt in metal containers. Salt leaches metals and you could wind up with a poisonous substance in your salt.
Store your cocoa powder in an airtight container in the pantry. Don’t keep it in the refrigerator or freezer, because both promote a humid environment. A humid environment could equal mold on your cocoa. When stored properly, cocoa should last about three years.
Do you see a common theme? Cool, dark and dry are always the go-to methods for storage. If you follow these instructions exactly for storing common baking ingredients, you’ll have long-lasting ingredients for our most popular recipes!