Life with Sugar

For some time I’ve been interested in food storage. Recently I found links to food storage charts. Some of the listed items are almost upsetting: packaged cookies are good for four months? (Home made, by contrast are good for 2-3 weeks). . . are they preservatives iced with preservatives? It’s enough to make you change your eating habits! I can resist most cakes, pies, ice cream, but cookies are my downfall. I usually avoid making them for just that reason, maybe I should rethink that?

I’m not as interested in regular food storage as I am long-term storage. Knowing what can be stored a long time tells me what I should stock first, then use the rest of my food dollar for fresh or short-lived stuff.

Things that are good for more than 1 year (at pantry temp 70 degrees) include the staples you’d expect: baking power/soda, bouillon, semi-sweet chocolate, unopened chocolate syrup, cornstarch, dry gelatin, dry pasta, rice, etc. But there are some surprises and even disagreements between the charts I found.

Powdered sugar can be stored 18 months in a pantry, but granulated only 12. Why is powdered sugar more shelf stable than granulated?

Brown sugar can be stored only 4 months? Granulated can be stored 12 months and molasses 6 months (opened) or 12 months (unopened). I haven’t bought brown sugar for years, I mix my own. (1T molasses (or more) as needed per 1/2C granulated sugar). I never store brown sugar as I only make it up as needed.

Why are molasses and granulated sugar both more shelf stable than commercial brown sugar? What does this says about commercial brown sugar? I don’t know, but I find it upsetting or at least disconcerting. I’m glad I’ve been mixing my own for years.

Working on making a long-term storage chart has had some unexpected consequences. Life can be strange!




5 responses to “Life with Sugar

  1. Elizabeth (Beth)

    Very interesting!

  2. Hi! I was searching for the maximum shelf life of homemade chocolate syrup thickened with cornstarch. Google led me to your post about food storage. Maybe you can help me with my query?

    Thanks in advance!

  3. There are three storage charts available from links at the USDA. Both the Kansas and Texas charts have the safe storage times the same for the products below:

    cornstarch 18 months
    chocolate, unsweetened 18 months
    sugar, granulated 2 years

    Here’s where I found the charts


    Although they have an info request link at the bottom of the page,funding for the National Center for Home Preservation has ended and they have no staff to answer questions. They suggest you contact your local co-operative extension office for any further assistance. You can read more about that here:

    I’m sorry that I couldn’t be any more direct help. I’d rather have the National Center for Home Preservation than a lot of things the government funds, but no one asked me!

    Thanks for the question and I’m sorry I couldn’t give you more of an explicit answer.


    • Thanks for all, especially the links. 🙂

      The real challenge is that cocoa and cornstarch are now in a liquified solution. We all know that once water is added the shelf-life will shorten significantly, I just want to know how long that will be.


  4. Raven, why not mix the dry ingredients and store that, then add the water as needed? I’d ask your state co-op. I understand your problem, but I don’t know the answer either.


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