How long has it been since you last checked up on the expiration dates on your baking supplies? From that bag of all-purpose flour, to the packet of chocolate, you need to not only revisit your ingredients to know whether they are usable, but also store these in adequate conditions.
With perishable baking supplies such as milk or eggs, you do not have to worry about expiration dates or storage, given how soon they get used up. Nevertheless, proper care in storage in needed for all baking ingredients.
Let’s start with the common few…
Flours typically have a long shelf-life with an expiration date for about a year from purchase date (always check for the expiry on the label). Simply put, flours are low-maintenance ingredients, unless you live in humid climates. High humidity enables flour mites, which is why a cooler storage, perhaps refrigeration, is required for all types of flours. Keep your flour in airtight bags/containers, regardless of the weather. Dust takes little time to mix in with open flour.
Whole-grain, wheat and nut flours have a shorter shelf-life than all-purpose flour, so make sure to check the expiration date before you grab a cupful.
Like flour, sugar too lasts for a year with proper storage. For granulated and confectioners’ (icing) sugar, use airtight containers for storage.
Never let wet utensils near the sugar, which clumps fast with the slightest bit of moisture. Refrigerating sugar is not advisable; the altering temperature of your fridge can boost moisture levels, and cause the granules to clump up.
Know that sugar absorbs smells quickly, so keep it away from pungent-smelling foods.
Brown sugar has higher moisture levels, thus higher clumping tendencies than regular sugar, even at room temperatures. Store brown sugar in an airtight container. If your brown sugar tends to stick despite care in storage, you can try out the marshmallow trick. Marshmallows can hold moisture, and a single mallow place inside brown sugar’s container may suffice to keep it from clumping.
3. BAKING SODA/POWDER
Store your baking soda in a cool, dry place, and it may keep for up to a year (or up till its expiration date). Baking powders can be stored in the same way. These leaveners are a tad temperamental; the effectiveness of your baking soda and powder depends on how frequently they are exposed to external elements when used.
A smart practice is to test both before use:
- Baking soda test:Add a few drops of vinegar to half teaspoon of baking soda. If it bubbles vigorously, it is both fresh enough and active.
- Baking powder test:Add half teaspoon of baking powder to a quarter cup of water. If it bubbles well, it is both fresh enough and active.
Active dry yeast comes in packets labeled with an expiration date, but like baking powder and soda, the freshness depends of storage and use. Yeast should be stored in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate it if the normal room temp is too high.
Yeast test: Immerse one teaspoon of sugar in half a of cup warm water. Sprinkle a packet of active dry yeast. Stir the mixture and leave it for ten minutes. If it bubbles, it’s okay to use.
Chocolate is easy enough to store, and will last in a variety of temperatures from 9 months to a several years. Optimally, chocolate should be stored in a cool, dark place. Milk and white chocolate can be refrigerated, but it is advised that you keep cooking/baking chocolate away from extreme temperatures during storage.
6. EXTRACTS AND ESSENCES
Liquid essences and extracts last for a year, sometimes longer. A cool place—preferably a refrigerator if you live in hot climates—is ideal for storage.
Considering that dry spices are typically used to preserve foods, they don’t actually expire or “go bad”. However, the longevity of these spices dulls their flavor. Unopened dry spices used in baking—such as cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and more—can last for 1-2 years. Whole spices last longer. Store all spices in a cool, dark place.
Of course, the foremost practice in creating any great baked good is buying high-quality ingredients. At Divine Specialties, we import over 5000 specialty products; from cake supplies to chef tools.
Our store can cater to all your cake-baking needs!