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11 Foods You Won’t Have to Ever Worry About Expiring

These foods have found the fountain of eternal youth.

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Jars in Pantrychuckcollier/Getty Images

Foods forever

These pantry staples will never go bad, so don’t feel bad if you don’t use them often or forget about them in the back of your cabinet. If you are the type of person that is very strict about expiration dates, here’s what the terms “best by,” “sell by,” and “use by” actually mean.

raw-HoneyOksana Shufrych /Shutterstock

Raw honey

Honey is often referred to as “God’s medicine” and has tons of health benefits—and it’s great for your hair. “Honey has actually be used in wound care in some cultures and studies for its ability to naturally resist bacteria,” says Dr. Elizabeth Trattner A.P. DOM, doctor of Chinese and Integrative Medicine. The best part? It never expires! In fact, it’s not unusual for archaeologists to find thousand-year-old honeypots in ancient Egyptian tombs. So what’s the deal? According to Smithsonian, its sugar, low moisture levels, excessive acidity, natural gluconic acid, and natural hydrogen peroxide are the keys to its longevity.  You’ll want to keep a closer eye in most of your other foods, especially meats to make sure they won’t make you sick. Here’s how to tell if your chicken has gone bad.

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VinegarMadeleine Steinbach /Shutterstock

Vinegar

Is there anything apple cider vinegar can’t do? Besides having an incredible amount of health benefits, like helping with weight loss, and being a natural stomachache remedy, it can also stay in your pantry forever. But it doesn’t stop there. According to Eat By Date, white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, raspberry vinegar, rice wine vinegar, and red wine vinegar also don’t have expiration dates. “Because of its acid nature, vinegar is self-preserving and does not need refrigeration,” according to The Vinegar Institute. Because of this, you can also use vinegar to help keep other foods from spoiling.

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Corn-StarchPanya Anakotmankong /Shutterstock

Cornstarch

Depending on how cornstarch is stored, it definitely deserves a spot on our immortal foods list. As long as it doesn’t get wet—which causes the starch molecules to bond with hydrogen molecules—and is kept in a dry, cool place, you won’t need to pick up another container of cornstarch for a long, long time. You’re probably throwing out these foods way too soon.

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SaltYulia Firman /Shutterstock

Salt

Pure sodium chloride has been around for billions of years, so it’s no surprise that it lasts forever. Not to mention, salt is often used to protect foods from mold and bacteria so they’re preserved longer. This occurs as a result of osmosis—when water is drawn out of the food by the salt itself, thus creating too dry of an environment for mold and bacteria to thrive.“It is a mineral and stable,” says Dr. Trattner. “The worst thing that [can happen is] it can get wet.” You may want to stock up on salt because not only is it never going bad, but you can use it for more than just seasoning your food. Here are 60 clever uses for salt that don’t involve cooking.

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Legumeshaveseen /Shutterstock

Dried legumes

Not to be confused with canned or fresh beans, dried beans also last forever—if they’re stored in sealed or airtight packaging. However, older beans may take longer to cook which results in a rather time-consuming process.

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SugarFascinadora /Shutterstock

Sugar

Similar to salt, sugar can also last forever if kept away from moisture and sources of heat. And we’re not just talking about pure sugar, either. According to Eat By Date, granulated white sugar, white sugar cubes, raw sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, sugar substitute, Equal, and Sweet n Low all last indefinitely. Although their textures might change, sugar never completely expires. Don’t want to eat that old sugar anyway? Try one of these 8 inventive ways you can use sugar besides eating it.

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AlcoholDeymosHR /Shutterstock

Hard liquor

Hard liquor is only “immortal” when it’s stored in a cool place and left unopened. So no, you can’t open that bottle of Barcadi and drink it again years later. After it is first exposed to air, it might begin to lose its flavors and structure due to oxidation. The alcohol can also be affected if it’s exposed to extreme weather conditions, intense light, or heat. “In part that’s because the temperature can break down a type of organic molecule called a terpene,” according to Wired. Storing foods incorrectly is just one of the cooking mistakes you might be making that are ruining your food.

VanillaAfrica Studio /Shutterstock

Pure vanilla extract

Since pure vanilla extract contains alcohol, it helps prolong its shelf life. It’s important that it’s pure vanilla extract, though. Imitation vanilla extract doesn’t have as much alcohol as its pure counterpart does. So as long as your extract is pure and properly sealed so no bacteria can find its way into the bottle, you can look forward to all the vanilla you want—that is, at least until you run out. Oddly enough, this baking staple also made it onto the list of unexpected things you should be adding to your coffee.

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RicePimonpim w /Shutterstock

Uncooked white rice

Regardless of whether you store your uncooked white rice in the pantry, the refrigerator, or the freezer, you’ll never need to replace it. According to Still Tasty, “White, wild, Arborio, jasmine and basmati rice all have an indefinite shelf life when kept free from contaminants. The exception is brown rice—thanks to its higher oil content, it won’t keep nearly as long.” Whether the rice you’re cooking is old or new, as long as you don’t make these common rice cooking mistakes, you’ll end up with a great end product.

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Different colour variatons of maple syrup made by a backyard hobbyist in Springhill, Nova Scotia.Cindy Creighton/Shutterstock

Pure maple syrup

If you typically buy the fake stuff at the store, you might want to reconsider. Unopened maple syrup will keep indefinitely, however, if you open it, you will need to refrigerate it. You can also use your pure maple syrup to make our favorite winter treat.

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White ceramic bowl with soy sauce on kitchen.Sharaf Maksumov/Shutterstock

Soy sauce

Soy sauce is another food that you never have to worry about expiring. Now, when you pull that super old bottle of it out of your fridge you don’t have to be grossed out. Next, read about these items you never knew had expiration dates.

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Sources

Brittany Gibson
Brittany Gibson is a regular contributor to RD.com’s culture, food, health, and travel sections. She was previously an editorial intern for RD.com and Westchester Magazine. Her articles have appeared on Buzzfeed, Business Insider, AOL, Yahoo, and MSN, among other sites. She earned a BA in English from the University of Connecticut