As a prepper, you are probably looking the extend the shelf life of your food pantry, and the best way to do this is by adding survival foods that last forever. Although we have very efficient freezers today which can keep food items edible for decades, but their main problem is that they do need electricity to work. In a major SHTF situation, odds are that the power grid will be down for several days if not longer, and if all your food is in the freezer than, you will have a massive problem.
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Keeping food fresh and edible for longer periods of time was a massive challenge only a couple of decades ago, and people have come up with some creative ways on how they can preserve food for the long term. People used to smoke, salt, and pickled vegetables, fruits, and meat, this way they increased the shelf life of their food. On the other hand, there are a couple of food items that will last forever without the need of any food preservation technique.
In a long term survival situation, you will be limited by how much food you have and by how long the shelf life of your food is. The most important factor in how long the shelf life of your food will be is how you actually store them. Even survival foods that last forever will sooner or later go bad if you do not store them correctly. Food tends to be fairly sensitive to temperature fluctuations, as in some cases it might cause bacteria to quickly multiply and destroy your food stocks.
Although there are a lot of survival foods that last virtually forever, they will start losing their taste and some of their nutrition as time passes by. Some of these food items which last forever will also change their texture, like honey for example, which after a couple of decades will crystalize. If you want to know what foods can be stored for 25 years then check out my recent article Food that last for 25 years ( Top 37 ).
Honey has been found in ancient tombs and it was still considered edible. Honey will never spoil, in the worst-case scenario you might find some mold on it if you store it in a humid environment, but you can easily scoop off the mold. The main reason why honey lasts forever is that it contains a lot of sugar, this sugar will actually kill most bacteria and parasites. Although honey does tend to last forever but after several decades it will start to crystalize, this is a normal process and it is still edible. If you want to know what foods last a long time in the fridge then check out my recent article Foods that last a long time in the fridge ( Top 14 ).
2. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be found in most supermarkets and they are relatively cheap. Apple cider vinegar has a lot of health benefits and storing it is extremely easy, as long as you keep it at a fairly cool temperature with the bottle properly closed it will last you forever. In addition to this apple cider vinegar can have a lot of additional uses like cleaning, disinfecting, and even for preserving food.
3. Bouillon Cubes
Although not an actual food item but a condiment, bouillon cubes will last virtually forever. The main reason why these will not spoil is that they have a lot of salt in them, and this excess salt will stop any bacterial or fungal growth happening. Bouillon cubes have an unlimited shelf life as long as you store them correctly, ideally, you should store them in a cool and dry environment. If you store them in a humid environment then sooner or later they will go bad.
Alcohol will last forever as long as you store it correctly, the good news is that alcohol is not that sensitive to temperature fluctuations, and even if the temperatures are well below freezing it will still not freeze. The one thing you have to keep in mind when storing alcohol for longer periods of time is to make sure that the cap is screwed in tightly, as alcohol tends to evaporate extremely fast.
The human body needs salt in order for the organs to function correctly. Salt has an unlimited shelf life, it is not sensitive to temperature fluctuations. After a while salt will start clumping up if it is stored in a humid environment, although you can easily break these clumps and the salt will still be edible. In addition to being a vital mineral to the human body, salt can be used in a lot of ways like preserving food, cleaning, and even healing some wounds.
6. Instant Coffee
What would people do in an apocalypse without coffee, although there are a lot of different types of coffee but generally speaking instant coffee tends to last forever. Some people will store their instant coffee in the freezer, although generally speaking this is not necessary.
7. Soy sauce
Soy sauce will also last forever, as long as you do not open the bottle. If you opened up the bottle than its shelf life goes down significantly. The main reason why soy sauce will last forever is that it contains a lot of salt. Soy sauce tends to be fairly sensitive to temperature fluctuations, so make sure to keep them in a cool and dry environment far away from direct sunlight.
8. Uncooked rice
Uncooked rice if stored correctly can have an unlimited shelf life, the problem is that you can not store them in their original packaging and expect to have an unlimited shelf life. In most packaged foods there will be small amounts of bacteria, bugs, and eggs, and once these eggs get a suitable temperature and some humidity they will hatch and destroy your food. This is the same case for rice flour as well, so make sure to store them in a cool and dry environment. If you have weevils in your flour then check out my recent article Weevils in flour safe to eat? ( 3 Step Removal ).
Cornstarch will last forever as long as you store it correctly. Cornstarch tends to be fairly sensitive to high humidity, and if you store them in a humid environment than clumps will form in the corn starch, in addition to this a lot of bugs tend to love cornstarch so make sure that you store them in a plastic container and add a couple of oxygen absorbers as well.
10. Corn syrup
Corn syrup is made from cornstarch and it has an unlimited shelf life. Corn syrup is not that sensitive to temperature fluctuations, but you should keep it out of direct sunlight as sooner or later it will go bad this way. You can use the corn syrup from time to time just make sure to keep the screw cap on tightly.
11. Dried corn
Dried corn can be stored fairly easily and as long as you keep it in a dry environment it will last you forever. If you are planning to stockpile corn make sure that you get corn which is suitable for human consumption as a lot of corn is grown for animal feed. Store the dried corn in plastic bags or containers and make sure not to add any kind of moisture to it by accident.
12. Baking soda
Baking soda has a lot of uses not just for cooking but for cleaning as well. I oftentimes use baking soda with vinegar to unclog my sink drain, and it does the job a lot better than a product designed for the same purpose. Baking soda tends to react with certain products like vinegar and alcohol, so make sure that you store them in a separate plastic container, as even the fumes of alcohol and the vinegar can kickstart the chemical reaction.
13. Pure vanilla extract
There are a lot of different types of vanilla extracts which you can find at your local supermarket, the problem is that most of them do not actually contain vanilla, but chemicals which mimic the taste of vanilla. Pure vanilla extract, on the other hand, has an unlimited shelf life and you should store it in a zip lock bag, or plastic container in a dry and cool environment.
Back in the day before refrigerators were a thing a lot of people were eating pemmican especially during the wintertime as these have a long shelf life. Pemmican is made of meat and fat, and as long as you store them correctly they can have an unlimited shelf life. Generally speaking, you should store it in a cool and dry environment, as it tends to be sensitive to high humidity. If you store it in a humid environment than sooner or later mold will start forming on the top of the pemmican.
Although Ghee is not that popular in the US but in India, it has been used for a long time. Ghee is a type of butter, and the main difference between normal butter and Ghee is that Ghee is boiled for so long that all the moisture is evaporated. The main reason why butter tends to go bad is due to the moisture content, and as Ghee doesn’t have almost any moisture it will last forever as long as you store it correctly. Ghee tends to be fairly sensitive to high temperatures as it can melt under certain circumstances and this will lower its shelf life.
16. Raw cacao powder
Raw cacao powder will last forever as long as you do not cross-contaminate it with other food items and if you do not add humidity to it. There a lot of cocoa mixes on the market, and most of them have a limited shelf life as they do contain dairy products, but raw cacao powder only contains the powder from the cacao which will never spoil if you store it correctly.
17. Maple syrup
Maple syrup is very similar to honey when it comes to its shelf life, both of them will be good to eat forever. Just like in the case of honey, maple syrup as well will crystallize at some point, this is a natural process and it can be slowed down by keeping the maple syrup in a cool place. Although even after the maple syrup has crystallized it is still edible, and the crystallization process doesn’t affect its shelf life.
18. Powdered milk
Powdered milk will last forever although it is quite sensitive to humidity, so if you live in a humid environment make sure to store it in plastic containers. Once you open up the powdered milk container it will spoil in a matter of months as it comes into contact with oxygen. In this case, you can use oxygen absorbers just make sure not to accidentally eat the oxygen absorbers.
19. Dried lentils
Dried lentils will last forever if stored correctly, how humid the environment is will actually determine its shelf life. In humid environments, the dried lentils will go bad sooner or later. If you want to store dried lentils for long periods of time than you have to use airtight plastic containers.
Although not the most delicious survival food, hardtack tends to have an extremely long shelf life. Just keep in mind that hardtack is fairly dry and you will need to combine it with water or other foods to make it edible. Hardtack has to be stored in a dry environment as the humidity found in the air will spoil it after a while.
There are a lot of different types of sugar which you can find at your supermarket and all of them have unlimited shelf lives. Sugar will start forming small clumps after a while and it will eventually turn into a massive block of sugar. The main reason for this is the humidity, the higher the humidity is the faster this process will happen. The good news is that this process doesn’t alter the shelf life of sugar at all.
22. Dried beans
Generally speaking, dried beans are considered to last for a couple of decades, but dried beans have been found in ancient tombs after several centuries and they were still edible. You have to protect the dried beans from moisture, and from oxygen as well, so keep them in an airtight plastic container and use a couple of oxygen absorbers as well. If the humidity is fairly high and you do not store your beans correctly then they will start to germinate sooner or later.
23. Distilled white vinnegar
Distilled white vinegar will last forever if you do not constantly open the bottle. The problem with white vinegar is that it tends to evaporate rather quickly, in addition to this its shelf life will be shorter if you store it in a hot environment.
As long as you store pasta correctly they will last forever, pasta is not that sensitive to temperature fluctuations although moisture can significantly reduce its shelf life. Make sure to keep your pasta in airtight plastic containers, this way you protect it from the moisture found in the air.
25. Potato flakes
Potato flakes will last for a very long time, although once you open up the packaging ist shelf life drops significantly. Potato flakes will have a lower shelf life if they get exposed to humidity and to constant temperature fluctuations. Some bugs love potatoes flakes so make sure that you check the containers from time to time. By far one of the best places to get potato flakes is from a Mormon cannery, for more information check out my recent article Mormon cannery ( Top 10 Things To Know ).
26. Ramen noodles
Ramen noodles are very popular nowadays, and if you like the taste of them then you should stockpile them as they tend to have a long shelf life. Just keep in mind that ramen noodles that come with some kind of added sauce will have a lower shelf life.
27. Rolled oats
Rolled oats are an excellent survival food, they are nutritious, satiating and they have a long shelf life. Generally speaking, the shelf life of oats is around 12-18 months, but this is if you do not store them correctly. Make sure that you place them in an airtight container with oxygen and with a moisture absorber, this way you extend their shelf life.
28. Herbal tea
Herbal tea can be stored indefinitely, all you need is an airtight container. Not all teas will have an unlimited shelf life, teas which are pre-packaged in tea bags will expire in a couple of years, but herbal tea will not expire if you store them correctly.
As you can see there are a lot of survival foods which last forever, however, their actual shelf life will mostly depend on how and where you store them. The biggest factors which reduce the shelf life of most foods are humidity, exposure to direct sunlight, and oxygen. In addition to this, you have to check your food stockpiles from time to time as bugs and rodents can ruin your food stockpile.