Help. How long are honey, baking chocolate, & baking soda good for?


If only my mother knew what I’ve got hidden in my pantry. :o If only I knew what I’ve got hidden up there. :smiley: I decided to do some baking today to clean out my pantry a little, and I found some crystalized honey in a bottle–I only think I’ve had it sitting on the shelf for about 5-6 years. This honey, which I had opened and used some of a few years ago, used to be a light brown, but now it’s a dark brown and it’s formed hard crystal clumps. I also found some unsweetened baking chocolate squares I must’ve had at least 7 years, and some baking soda I’ve probably had since oh, um 1995 or 1996. :o I really do like baking, but I just don’t have enough time to do it, or I get sidetracked and the ingredients just sit up on the shelves for years and years until I get the time to use them and bake.

I figure I’ll give my mother, who may well fall out at the state of my stores, a break from yet another crazy cooking question. [giggle] So help me out, please. All you bakers, chemists, and so forth, are chocolate, baking soda, and honey that are 6+ years old still good to use to bake cakes and things? Will I poison myself and/or others if I use them to make cakes and bread and stuff?

I know I ought to be ashamed of myself for letting these things sit for so long, but oh well.

Thanks in advance for your help. :slight_smile:

According to this page, the unopened shelf life of unsweetened baking chocolate and of unopened baking soda is 24 months, and only 12 for honey (again, unopened). Here’s a similar listing.

Oh, I forgot. Can I substitute in corn syrup for honey in a recipe for gingerbread? [giggle] The corn syrup is new.

Wow. What great websites. :smiley: Thanks Melandry. According to these, I think my stuff is probably okay even though they’re well past the expiration dates.

Honey will pretty much last forever, it is after all darned nearly pure sugar (a preservative) I have used honey well over 2 years old with no ill side effects, just microwave it for a little while before use, no problems should come up.

Honey will crystalize after a while, but it doesn’t spoil. You can substitute corn syrup for honey, but it tastes different. Molasses is even better in gingerbread cookies.
If I can ask a question sorta related? Does flour ever go bad? I mean besides bugs. If you can keep the bugs out how long does flour last before it “spoils”?

Thanks for the responses, Com2kid & Biggirl. [giggle] Biggirl, you beat me to the flour question. That was going to be my next question. I’ve got some unopened flour on my shelf that’s been there for at least a year. :slight_smile: As near as I can tell, flour ought to last a long time, but I wonder if it will taste stale after a few years.

Despite what the site says, Baking Powder will work over a year past it’s expiration date, in case anyone was wondering.

[sup]It was an emergency, and I did throw it out after I used it[/sup]

I keep flour, cornmeal, cereal, rice, that sort of thing in the freezer. If it had bug eggs or pupae or whatever in there, freezing kills them. If it DIDN’T have the random protein, then freezing will extend the life of the product, though I don’t know how much longer.

Baking powder may still work, but not necessarily as well.

When I get baking ingredients home from the store, I use a sharpie marker to write the date on them. It seems I never use stuff up before its shelf life, so that’s helpful. Though I do hate throwing stuff out.

There’s been some back-and-forth in terms on this thread, so just for the record: baking soda lasts virtually forever in a sealed container; baking powder goes bad in a year or so. Not ‘makes you sick’ bad, just ‘doesn’t make your biscuits rise properly’ bad.

I don’t know if there was any advice in the link … running hot water over the (tightly closed) honey jar should melt it & break up the crystals. The baking chocolate will probably show some ‘bloom’ when you open it. This affects neither the safety nor the flavor-it’s just the fat (cocoa butter) rising to the surface of the chocolate. If it’s actually going to be used for baking, don’t worry about it-once it’s melted, it’ll all be mixed together again. (Cocoa butter is virtually unique among natural fats in that it never becomes rancid.)

And flour (sealed and dry) will lose its gluten over time. Again, this won’t make it unsafe to eat, but it will adversely affect the flavor and texture of anything you bake with it. If it’s gotten at all moist, ditch it forthwith. (I always wanted to use that word!)