Butter that has been kept in the refrigerator will typically last for one month after the “sell by” date. Most people store butter in the molded compartment of their refrigerator doors. That’s fine if you plan to use it within a week after you buy it. If you don’t use that much butter, it is best to store it in the main body of the refrigerator. You may also freeze it. Wrap it tightly in plastic freezer wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil. Heavy-duty freezer bags also work. Salted butter will keep up to 9 months in the freezer, while unsalted butter will last up to 6 months. Keep your freezer set at zero degrees to keep your foods safe indefinitely.
To maximize the shelf life of your eggs, keep them refrigerated at all times. They will keep for 3 to 5 weeks after purchase. The “sell-by” date will usually expire during this time, but they will still be safe to eat. Avoid storing them in the egg rack of your refrigerator door because the temperature is warm, especially if you or your family opens the door many times throughout the day. Instead, store them in the main body of your refrigerator, where the temperature is cooler and more consistent. If you are unsure about the quality of your eggs, you can do a float test on them.
Milk will be safe to drink for about one week after the expiration date on the jug, assuming that you have kept it refrigerated at or below 40 degrees at all times. To maximize the shelf life of milk, avoid storing it in the door of your refrigerator because the temperature is warmer and inconsistent. Instead, store it in the body of your refrigerator. You can freeze any milk that you aren’t able to use, but it will alter the texture, which may not be suitable for drinking. However, you can use the thawed milk for baking and cooking.
Ground beef will typically last up to two days, if it’s kept in its original store packaging. If you are not going to use it right away, you should put it in the freezer. Wrap the package with freezer paper, plastic wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil before storing. This will prevent freezer burn, which is common for foods that are frozen for lengthy periods of time. You can keep the meat in your freezer for up to four months. Thawed meat should be used within two days.
Like ground beef, fish will last up to two days when stored in the main body of your refrigerator. Freeze your fish if you aren’t going to use it right away and make sure to freeze it before the two-day time period is up. This is especially important for shell-fish. For best results, keep the fish in its original store packaging and overwrap it with airtight plastic wrap, freezer paper or heavy-duty aluminum foil. You can store fish for up to 8 months in your freezer.
Commercially-baked, pre-sliced white bread typically lasts up to 7 days before it shows signs of molding. To achieve the best results, keep your bread tightly closed in its original packaging and store it at room temperature. Avoid storing it in the refrigerator because it will grow dry and stale. You can freeze any unused bread for up to 3 months.
Commercially Canned or Bottled Black Beans
Canned beans typically have a shelf life between 2 and 5 years. For best results, remove any cans that are rusting, bulging, leaking or severely dented. Store them in a cool, dry place, such as your pantry. In most cases, the unopened beans will still be safe to eat after the “Use By” or “Best By” date on the label has expired. The color or texture of the beans may change, but you can still eat them if you have stored them properly.
An unopened jar of peanut butter will last up to 2 years, if stored in a cool, dry place. An opened jar will last up to 3 months in the pantry. You should store it in the refrigerator after that time has passed to help prevent oil separation and preserve the peanut butter’s flavor. The expiration labels represent the quality of the product. If you find that the label is expired, check the peanut butter for mold, odor or any indication that it has spoiled. If you don’t find any of these things, it should still be safe to eat.
Un-refrigerated Apple Juice
Bottled or canned apple juice will last up to 18 months, when stored in a cool, dry area, such as your pantry. In most cases, the juice will be safe to drink after the expiration date has passed, although it may lose some of its flavor. You can freeze the juice by placing it in an airtight plastic or glass container with at least half an inch of headspace at the top. This will allow for the expansion that occurs when the juice freezes. You can keep the apple juice in your freezer for up to a year.
Fresh, Whole Avocados
It takes between 4 to 7 days for an avocado to ripen. Then it will yield when you give it a gentle squeeze. Once it is ripe, place it in a plastic bag and put it in the refrigerator. There, it should last up to 5 days. You can freeze avocados by pureeing them with lemon juice and putting the puree into an air-tight container or heavy-duty freezer bag. The puree will last for up to 6 months in the freezer.
Fresh, Whole Cantaloupe Melons
Place the melons in your pantry or another cool, dry place until they ripen. This takes between 2-4 days. Then place them in the refrigerator, where they will last up to 10 days. Cantaloupe freezes well. Simply cut the melons in half, remove their seeds and rinds. Slice, cube or ball the melon and place the pieces in a covered airtight container. A heavy-duty freezer bag will also work.
Fresh, Raw Broccoli
Broccoli will keep well for up to 5 days, when stored in the refrigerator. Keep in in a plastic bag and do not wash until you are ready to use it. You can freeze broccoli for up to 18 months. To do this, cut off the woody stems and leaves. Split the stalks and flowerets into 1.5-inch pieces. Plunge the pieces into boiling water for three minutes, then chill quickly in ice water. Drain off the excess water and package in freezer bags or airtight containers. Freeze immediately.
Fresh, Raw Carrots
You can store fresh, raw carrots in your refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. Store them in a plastic bag and put them in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator. You can freeze carrots for up to 18 months. Follow the same procedure as you would for broccoli.
If you have questions about how to store and freeze other foods that weren’t mentioned, visit StillTasty.