Aside from Twinkies, which allegedly can survive nuclear fallout, there are so many different foods that can be stored to last for decades. Many of these items might surprise you, as there is a good chance that some of them are sitting in your pantry right now.
Storing food so that it will last longer is really easy if you follow a few basic guidelines. The basic steps include ensuring you get the proper containers to store your food. They should be able to keep oxygen and water from coming into contact with the contents it is storing. The next step is to store your food somewhere that is dry, cool, and preferably away from sunlight. If the food stored inside comes into contact with oxygen or moisture, there is a good chance it will become contaminated or go bad. If you can completely remove oxygen and moisture from the containers storing your foodstuffs, then they will last for years!
Read more below about foods that can be stored for decades!
Honey, if stored properly, will last almost literally forever. So long as it is covered and dry and no insects get to it, then it will be good to go. Just because it dries up doesn’t mean that it has gone bad. All that means is that the honey has turned into a crystalline state and it can be easily reverted to the thick deliciousness that you know. Simply put the container in warm water and watch it come back to life.
2. Dried Lentils (Beans)
Lentils and beans are amazing, healthy additions to any meal. They are great sources of fiber, carbohydrates and proteins. Coincidentally, they also store well and last for long periods of time. There are so many different types of beans and legumes that are available with unique flavors and are inexpensive.
Rice is a staple in so many countries around the world because of its ease of preparation and how well it stores. Thanks to modern technology, bags of rice are often vacuum sealed to ensure a longer shelf life. Just because you opened the bag doesn’t mean that it is going to start going bad immediately, though. Just take care to keep oxygen and moisture out so it doesn’t spoil!
Oats are a grain that is found in farm animal feed, granola bars, and breakfast cereal. On their own they are bland, but you can add flavor using honey, sugar, milk, butter or salt to make oats delicious.
Historically, sugar has been one of the most sought after food items in the world. In many ways, sugar was just as precious as gold. Because of the nature of pure and refined sugar, it doesn’t allow bacteria to grow in it. You don’t need to keep a lot on hand because food generally doesn’t require much sugar, unless you are an avid baker.
6. Spices (dried)
Spices can last for a very long time when stored properly, away from oxygen and moisture. Be sure to keep a stash on hand to keep your food tasting good!
Salt is another example of an extremely valuable substance and foodstuff throughout human history. In its purest form, salt is a long lasting crystal mineral. There are two main ways we get salt. The first way is from evaporating ocean water and harvesting the salty goodness; the other is by mining it.
Not only is salt used to flavor and season your foods, but it can also be used to store and preserve foods. You will need a lot of it, but you can salt any kind of meat to store it for extremely long periods of time.
8. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is just as easy to store as honey and will also last as long. Even if it solidifies or turns to crystal, just dunk the container in warm water before using it again. Again, be sure to store it in a cool, enclosed and dry area to get the longest life from your syrup.
9. Hard Liquor and Alcohol (including Vanilla Extract and other types of extracts)
If you are a connoisseur of whiskeys, then this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you whatsoever. Alcohol can store for long periods and be used steadily over time. The higher the alcohol content, the longer that it should last. If you are hoping for your booze to keep its flavor, be sure to keep the lid closed tight otherwise it might start to get a funky taste.
Another item that will keep for years and years is wine. Because of the acidic and alcoholic nature, bacterial growth is slowed and even eliminated. Wine needs to be stored away from heat and light if you are plan to consume it for years to come. Added heat will give the wine an awful taste, but won’t necessarily spoil it.
11. Vinegar (Both White and Apple Cider)
Like alcohol, vinegar is formed through fermentation so it will never spoil. Vinegar also has an uncanny ability to absorb flavors from its environment, so it is advised to keep it away from light and heat, as well as keeping a cap on it to prevent it from inheriting any funky smells.
Ghee is butter’s better tasting sibling. Commonly used in the middle eastern and Indian subcontinent, it has a nutty flavor because it is cooked. Ghee has a higher concentration of fat in it because all of the moisture has been removed in the cooking process to give it a longer shelf life.
Beef and Chicken Bouillon Cubes
Bouillon cubes are something that nobody ever checks the expiration date on simply because they will last forever. They consist of dehydrated and powdered animal products and salt, which make them a great flavor addition to boiling water for rice or beans.
Another item on our list that is fermented and will last forever is soy sauce. It has a high salt content which also contributes to its long shelf life. Again, like vinegar, wine and booze, keep it away from anything that is particularly noxious so as to avoid it absorbing the flavor.
Powdered milk is exactly what it sounds like. By simply adding water, you have milk that contains all the benefits without the need for refrigeration and short shelf life. It is a good option to keep on hand to ensure that you meet your dietary requirements of vitamins and minerals in case you have issues with electricity or refrigeration.
Hard Salted Meat
Ever wonder how sailors ate meat aboard ships on transatlantic trips before the invention of refrigeration? By using lots and lots and lots of salt, they would pack meat and salt into barrels until all the moisture was gone and the meat was hard as a rock.
When they were ready to serve, they would add it back to boiling water in order to rehydrate it. While it is a time consuming task, it is possible to store meat without refrigerating or smoking it.
Dried fruits like mangos, raisins, apricots, and many others can be stored for years on end. They are, unfortunately, also susceptible to taking on smells in the environment, so it is highly recommended that you take extra care to wash the containers that you store these delicious snacks in and keep them in a cool and dry place.
Foods that Last are Worth It
No matter why you are stocking your pantry, it is important to take care and store your ingredients properly. Remember that the biggest enemies of food are oxygen, moisture, light and heat. By following the storage directions and suggestions outlined above, you can ensure that you can abandon your food for years and can come back to eat it without it spoiling!