Don’t waste your emergency preparation efforts and make sure your stored food lasts a long time (we’re talking years here) and won’t take up too much room in your bug-out bag. Pick only from our list of the foods with the longest shelf life. Find out what they are below.
Foods with the Longest Shelf Life
When stored in an oxygen-free container and in a cool place (40°F and below), white rice can last up to 30 years. But if stored in a regular container and at a constant 70°F temperature, it can only last up to 10 years.
Rice is a good choice because aside from a long shelf life, it’s rich in calories and low in sodium. Plus it goes with almost anything! Studies from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah show that white rice retains its flavor and nutrients even after 30 years in storage. However, after opening a sack of rice, it must be consumed within one to two years.
Brown rice, on the other hand, didn’t undergo any milling or polishing procedure and contains plenty of fat. Its fat content causes it to go rancid quickly. That’s why brown rice only lasts up to 6 months. Below are different kinds of white rice that you can stockpile.
- Long Grain
- Medium Grain
- Short Grain
- Della or Dellmont
- Japanese Premium
Another food that’s great for long-term storage is dried beans. Exposure to oxygen can affect the beans’ color and alter their taste so it’s best to store them in #10 cans or Mylar-type bags. When kept in these containers, dried beans can last over 10 years. If you’ll be storing small quantities of dried beans, you can use canning jars as long as you keep them in a dark place. Samples from research by BYU that had “been stored up to 30 years had greater than 80 percent acceptance by a consumer taste panel for emergency food use.”
- Split Peas
- Black Beans
Hard Grains have a longer shelf life (12 to 30 years with proper storage techniques) than soft grains because they have thicker outer shells.
- Soft wheat
- Durum Wheat
- Hard Red Wheat
- Hard White Wheat
Soft Grains have softer outer coverings so they have a shorter shelf life. They can last 8 to 20 years depending on how you store them.
- Rolled Oats
- Hulled Oats
- Pearled Oats
Dried pasta is another food you can store long-term. According to experts, dried pasta is “unlikely to grow harmful bacteria.” So it’s edible a few years after its expiration date, as long as it’s stored properly and away from heat and moisture. However, pasta can lose its flavor and texture over time, especially after its “best before” date. If you notice that your stored pasta smells differently or has become brittle, throw it out.
Regular canned items will be safe to eat past their ‘use-by’ or ‘best by’ date as long as the can shows no dents, rust, or swelling. Unopened goods in #10 cans (especially if freeze-dried) will last 25 to 30 years (depending on the type of food), as long as they’re “stored in a cool and dry place at temperatures between 55°F and 70°F.” You can choose from these commercially available foods packed in #10 cans.
Here are the foods and condiments with longest shelf life when packed in #10 cans.
- Brown Sugar
- Honey Powder
- White Granulated Sugar
- Iodized Salt
- Egg Noodles
- Freeze-dried Cheese
- Freeze-dried Pineapple
- Freeze-dried Blackberries
- Freeze-dried Mango
- Freeze-dried Blueberries
- Freeze-dried Raspberries
- Freeze-dried peas
- Freeze-dried Sweet Corn
- Freeze-dried Chicken
- Freeze-dried Beef
Remember, the ideal location for extending your food’s shelf life is a cool, dry, dark place. The best temperature is 40° to 70°F. One common factor in extending these foods’ shelf life is the absence of oxygen. So we suggest getting plenty of oxygen absorbers and airtight food-grade containers. It’s better if you can get bags made of Mylar material. Mylar is a transparent polyester film that prevents moisture, oil, and acids from seeping into your stored food.
Which food has the longest shelf life?
Edible honey has been found that is thousands of years old.
What foods should I stockpile for survival?
Stockpile food with long shelf life (see our lists above). It’s better if you can store a wide variety of food. This way you won’t get tired of eating the same food everyday for a long time, and your bodies nutritional needs will be satisfied.
Once disaster strikes, you’ll never know how long food rations will last or if there will be a food program. It’s good that you now have an idea of which foods to store. Stockpile them in airtight containers in a cool, dry place and you’ll be ready for anything, even when SHTF!