“Down to Earth” Chef offers tips on spring cleaning your kitchen

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Spring cleaning the house is common this time of year. But what about spring cleaning your kitchen? We're talking about taking inventory. "Down to Earth" Chef Karen Gill joined the Studio A team to offer some helpful tips.

Spring cleaning in the kitchen tips

Taking inventory and rotating can help you waste less food and can help with weekly meal planning.

  1. Keep Similar items together: It can be hard to find certain ingredients if your flours are mixed in with your rices, canned goods and cereals. Create separate areas; like baking, canned goods, sauces, grains & pastas.
  1. Often used items: Keep items that you use frequently in front and put less common things towards the back.
  1. Use Food-Grade Airtight Containers: They help keep a more tidy pantry and your dried goods will remain fresher longer.
  1. Label and Date Things: If you buy in bulk, be sure to label with item name and the date purchased. You could also out a use by date, to help remember when to replenish.
  1. Keep track: Stay in the know with what you're almost out of and what's starting to reach its expiration date. Keep an inventory list on the inside of your pantry and buy items as they being to run out.
  1. Temperature check: All pantry staples should be kept in a cool, dry and dark place. Do not store food items near the stove, oven or microwave, especially oils & vinegars, which can go rancid quickly.

Spices: For the most fresh flavor, store smaller amounts of whole spices and dried herbs, then grind when you want to use them. Ground spices are fine to use, just be sure to buy in quantities that you will use. Average shelf life is 2-3 years.

Flour: The original paper packaging is good for long term pantry storage as long as the package has not been open. About 1-2 year. Most types of flour keep longer in a cool, dry cabinet if stored in a sealed plastic or glass container. Use within 1 year. Check for rancid smell and discard if unpleasant odor exists.  High oil content flours, like whole wheat and soy, have shorter shelf lives. Store in refrigerator or freezer in air-tight containers or plastic bags.

Oils: 1-3 years. Sesame & grapeseed, about 6 months, best stored in refrigerator

Vinegars: years-acidic by nature, it is self-preserving and does not require refrigeration. Flavored vinegars: may go bad more quickly due to added items, like herbs, garlic & chilies

Dried Beans and Dried Pastas: up to 2 years

Canned Beans: 2-3 years

Nuts: 4-6 months

Peanut and Nut Butters: up to 2 years sealed, 2-3 months opened

Rice: white & wild: years / brown: 6 months (higher oil content)

Whole grain does not keep as long as pearled or refined grain, because the germ portion of the kernels can cause the grain to become rancid over time.