15 Foods That Last Forever

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When you’re on your food storage journey, you may want to add these 15 foods to your stash that last forever, as long as they’re properly stored. There is something about having some food in your pantry that you never have to worry about going bad. We spend our hard-earned money to stock our home with the food we can eat in the future, right?

I remember when Mark and I first started our food storage project many years ago, one of the biggest mistakes was storing beans, sugar, and powdered milk in 50-pound barrels. Yes, large green barrels not buckets. We had a large “fruit room” in the basement where it was cool and dry. That was the good part, the bad part was the large barrels. They were too large to maneuver and didn’t seal tight.

We had one barrel full of wheat that we planned to grind to make bread for years to come. We decided one day we better check on things, so we opened it up. Boy, were we surprised when we opened the barrel and it was like a seething caldron of wheat and bugs. Yep, had to chuck all of it. Lesson learned! Wheat and other items only have long shelf lives if stored in airtight containers, and food safety is very important.

We eventually converted to five-gallon buckets with those lids you couldn’t remove unless you had a “tool” to lift them off. Then came Gamma Lids, thank goodness for those airtight and easy-to-open lids. They were a life changer for me. I color-coded my entire food and fuel storage with those colored lids.

15 Foods That Last Forever

15 Foods That Last Forever

Long-term storage is important for all preppers to learn, understand, and apply as they put together their family preparedness plans. Indefinite shelf life can mean different things when considering various food products. You don’t have to consider yourself to be one of the survivalists to have what’s necessary to survive a disaster or emergency. Just quality foods you’ve properly prepared in containers and a conducive environment. Let’s jump in and learn together.

1. Honey

If you can buy raw honey, it will last forever. Please remember that storing honey in 5-gallon buckets is not the best idea. You may have to chisel the honey when you want to use it after a few years. It will crystalize, which is fine if it’s stored in quart mason jars. You can set your jars outside in the heat of the sun and they will eventually go back to their liquid state. You can also heat the jars in water on your stove too. If you microwave the jars you will lose some critical nutrients in the honey.

My favorite place to buy raw natural honey is Cox’s Honey from Shelley, Idaho. Cox’s Honey

2. Sugar

Sugar is very inexpensive and it will store indefinitely if it doesn’t get moisture in it. If you find a bucket of sugar that is rock hard, somehow it has gotten moisture in it. Please keep it dry and stored in a cool place. I store my sugar in 5-gallon buckets with Gamma Lids. Gamma Lids The lids are the critical part since they have a rubber seal that you can really tighten.

Please DO NOT use oxygen absorbers in your sugar to store it. Some people use Mylar bags for storing their sugar, but I don’t. I use 5-gallon buckets with Gamma Lids. I open the bags of sugar and store them in the clean white 5-gallon buckets. I also have smaller airtight containers in my pantry so I can refill them from the larger buckets. I find the smaller containers much easier to use in a kitchen/pantry setting.

Read More of My Articles  Best Snacks to Take With You When SHTF

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar lasts forever as long as the unopened bottles are stored in a cool dry place. You can use apple cider vinegar for so many things relating to health benefits. Apple Cider Vinegar Health Benefits Don’t confuse apple cider vinegar with white vinegar which many people use as a cleaning solution.

Look at item number 11 below where I discuss white distilled vinegar.

4. Pure Vanilla Extract

A pure vanilla extract will last indefinitely if stored in a cool dry place. This is the one I buy: Pure Vanilla Extract I don’t think an imitation vanilla will have near the longevity traits of pure vanilla. Once the jars are opened the shelf life will be less.

5. Maple Syrup

If you can buy REAL Maple Syrup in a glass jar it will last about 50 years. That’s a very long time in my book! I’m not talking about Pancake Syrup. There are different grades of Maple Syrup, so make sure it’s truly maple syrup from a maple tree. If you keep the glass bottles of Real Maple syrup in the freezer, they will last indefinitely. Be sure and leave room for expansion in the jars stored in the freezer.

6. Salt

I grew up with salt with added iodine, it doesn’t last as long. Good old plain salt will last indefinitely if stored in a cool dry place. Himalayan salt will last forever as well. Whether sea salt or table salt, just purchase salt without added ingredients and you should be good to go.

7. Corn Starch

You can store your cornstarch in its original container, and as long as it stays dry, it will last forever in a cool dark place.

8. Wheat

Thank goodness wheat lasts forever because I store a LOT of it. I’m very picky when I buy my hard white wheat because I don’t want to ruin my wheat grinder with rocks or debris from certain brands of wheat. I only buy my wheat from Lehi Mills here in Utah. I’m sure there are other brands that have a similar quality, but I’ve researched this brand and Lehi Mills cleans their wheat about nine times. If you decide to buy hard white wheat make sure it is thoroughly cleaned.

As mentioned in my earlier story, even wheat needs to be stored so it isn’t subject to moisture or pests. That’s another reason I like the containers of wheat from Lehi Mills. I can actually leave the wheat in those for long-term storage, but once opened, I either put a gamma lid on that bucket or move the wheat to one of my other buckets with a gamma lid.

Note that here in Utah Costco will often sell the Lehi MIlls wheat as part of a “roadshow” presentation in their stores. I’m not sure if they do that in other states. Let me know if you’ve seen this product in your Costco outside of Utah.

9. Soy Sauce

Soy sauce can last indefinitely if stored unopened in a cool dry place. It has a lot of sodium. I tend to buy smaller bottles because I like a fresh bottle stored in my refrigerator that has been opened for six months or less.

10. White Rice

White rice will store indefinitely if you store it in a cool dry place in an airtight container. You may remember, brown rice has a higher fat content so you can only store it for six months. White rice can be used in so many recipes, it fills the belly, and is a very inexpensive food storage item. The longer you store white rice the less sticky it becomes. I LOVE sticky rice.

Read More of My Articles  Why You Need Food Storage

I learned something from a Chinese restaurant. The owner told me when he opens a new bag of white rice he mixes some of the old white rice into the storage container to make sure the old rice will still be “sticky.” Is it an old wives’ tale? I don’t know, but I mix some of my old rice with my new rice, just in case.

I really like Jasmine rice since it tends to be more sticky rice when cooked. When it comes to more fluffy rice, I’ll use basmati rice. Don’t plan on really long-term storage in the usual bag rice is sold in. Put any rice you buy in an airtight container, and keep it in a cool dry environment.

11. White Distilled Vinegar

Its acidic nature makes vinegar self-preserving. You can use it for salad dressings, canning, and so much more. Please store your bottles in a cool dark place. They will store forever if unopened.

12. Corn Syrup

I quote Karo Syrup, “Karo syrup is safe to eat for an indefinite period of time regardless of whether it has been opened. However, for best results, we recommend using before the “Best by” date stamped on the container. Bottles may be refrigerated after opening, however, the syrup may be thicker and slower to pour.”

Any item you buy should have a “best by” or “expiration” date stamped on the packaging somewhere. You can’t go wrong following these dates, and my experience is that most products actually are good beyond that date.

Please keep in mind once the jars are opened the shelf life is shortened.

13. Hard Liquor

I don’t drink alcohol, but I did go to the liquor store in town and ask how long the different bottles would last. (These would be great for bartering after a severe disaster.) I was told that vodka, rum, gin, whiskey, and tequila last forever. They mentioned I should store them upright in a cool dark location so the liquid doesn’t come in contact with the metal lid or cap that is subject to corrosion.

Liquor is much more shelf stable than beer or wine and will last indefinitely if not opened and stored in a cool, dry, dark environment.

14. Dry Beans

Beans will last forever, and I mean forever. One thing to keep in mind, the older the bean, the more water and fuel will be needed to cook them. A pressure cooker is great for cooking old beans. You can also soak the beans overnight, drain and cover the beans again with fresh water, and then cook them until tender. You can pressure can the beans as well.

It’s always best to put your dry beans in airtight containers to keep moisture and pests out. Canned beans are processed and do have a much shorter shelf life, so follow the dates on those cans of beans.

15. Instant Coffee

This is a really great food storage item because it lasts over 20 years, if not longer, if the containers are unopened. It’s basically dehydrated coffee. It makes for a great bartering item as well. This is my favorite Instant Coffee, Jacob’s Velvet Instant Coffee

Instant Coffee

Final Word

This is a short list, but at least you get the drift that there are at least 15 foods that last forever. Let me know of other items you like in your inventory of long-term food storage products, I’d like to share your ideas and experiences with my readers. Please be prepared for the unexpected. May God bless this world, Linda

Survival Food Storage

Copyright Picture: AdobeStock_124769665 by Karandaev

20 thoughts on “15 Foods That Last Forever

  • August 28, 2018 at 7:51 am
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    My experience with maple syrup is that it doesn’t last forever. If I don’t keep it in the refrigerator it will get mold on it. Any suggestions? Different brand? The rest of your list I totally agree with though. I bought black beans from the BIshop’s Storehouse (I forget the current name) and they turned out to be very bitter when cooked. I threw them away because they were inedible. I would love to know why they were this way. Do you have any ideas? Thanks.

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    • August 28, 2018 at 9:36 am
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      Hi JoEllen, I did the research on Maple Syrup and it said it had to be in a glass jar. Was yours in a glass jar? Just asking, I would love to know. I read where not all Maple Syrup is the same. I’m thinking it’s like raw honey compared to some honey you can buy in the store. I’m puzzled over the black beans and concerned as well. I’m going to contact some bean companies to see why they would be bitter. Let’s see if any readers have had issues as well. Great comment, Linda

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      • September 20, 2018 at 5:46 am
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        One thing I know for sure is that wheat and such may last forever but the nutrition does not. Neither does the flavor. If it is not constantly rotated then you have something to fill the belly but not nourish the body or tastes great adding stress in an already stressful situation. I believe in emergency preparedness but feel self-sufficiency is far more important. It is the thing that can’t be taken away. My emphasis has been on learning to produce all we can and take care of ourselves not just try to buy security for a short time until someone else can take care of us once more.

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        • September 20, 2018 at 7:27 am
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          Hi Holly, you are so right about being self-sufficient. You get it, I love it! We need to learn how to produce our own food and take care of ourselves. I wish more people understood the need to take care of themselves. I don’t buy wheat for 30 years. I buy enough for three years and rotate what I have. I make bread so having wheat stored is critical for me. Keep doing what you’re doing, you see the big picture. Good job, Linda

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    • August 29, 2018 at 9:49 am
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      Maple syrup will grow mold after awhile, in my experience. Simple to solve, remove the mold. I thoroughly clean everywhere the mold was to remove all spores. The syrup can be reheated in a pan on your stove, then poured when cool into a clean glass bottle. Once my syrup is open, I store it in the fridge. I’ve stored it there for years. You can also buy it from places like T.J.Maxx and Home Goods, usually in glass bottles. I used to buy it by the gallon from a great place in Vermont. Just check your syrup from time to time, or, eat it more often 🙂

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  • August 28, 2018 at 9:23 am
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    I now live in a rural area and get some really good ideas from my new friends. When honey crystalizes and is stored in pint/quart jars, place it on a electric candle warmer and it will liquify in less than 24 hours with no loss of nutrients.

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    • August 28, 2018 at 9:40 am
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      Hi Lynn, oh my gosh I have got to try this!! I love new ideas! Thank you so much!! Linda

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  • August 28, 2018 at 11:51 am
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    No my maple syrup is in a tan color plastic jug. I either buy it at Costco or Trader Joe’s depending on which is cheaper. So if I decant it into a glass jar it should keep?

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    • August 28, 2018 at 12:41 pm
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      Hi JoEllen, no the bottle of maple syrup is open so it’s now been compromised so to speak. Once the seal is broken it needs to be used. The next bottles I order will be in glass jars. The company that looks good to me is this one: https://andersonsmaplesyrup.com/. You may want to check out this group. There may be others but this one is family owned and has been open since 1928. Linda
      P.S. They have a list of stores: https://andersonsmaplesyrup.com/store-locator/

      Reply
  • August 28, 2018 at 2:04 pm
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    When I was married in 1983, one of my husband’s friends gave us a wedding gift of 2 1/2 gallon jars of crystallized honey. One of the things that he told me was that if honey did not crystallize, it was not pure honey. I purchased some honey from the grocery store shortly after getting married and did not use it. (it was an experiment!) 10 years later, it was still liquid and had never crystallized. SO, I did a bit of research about that as I thought pure honey would crystallize but honey with additives would not. What I found out was somewhat conflicting at best.

    One place said that if the honey was heated (I thought pasteurized) that it would not crystallize. Another said that the higher amount of water in the honey would keep it liquid vs low amount would crystallize. A third place said that it depended on the time of year that the honey was harvested, i.e., early harvest (spring) did not crystallize as fast as later harvest (fall). A fourth place said that it depended on the amount of glucose in the honey – low glucose slower to crystallize and higher glucose faster to crystallize.

    All of the research indicated that honey, no matter if it crystallized or not was still “good”.
    One of the things that I do if I purchase a large container of raw, liquid honey is to put the honey in smaller containers (mason jars – I like pints or 1/2 pints). Just make sure that your jars and lids are sterilized. This way, when the honey crystallizes, I only have to “melt” a small amount and not a large 1 gallon jar!

    One of the things I don’t care for with the Long Term storage of sugar that I have gotten: all of the cans have oxygen absorbers and the sugar is rock hard! I have one of those kitchen tools that you use to break up ground beef or sausage when browning it. It works great to break up the sugar lumps!

    Linda ~ I think I will get some 2 1/2 gallon buckets to store my future sugar in. That seems like the right size for me and the limited storage I have. Most of my storage is in #10 or pantry cans or mason jars!!

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    • August 28, 2018 at 3:36 pm
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      Oh, Leanne, I’m sorry you got sugar with oxygen absorbers. Sugar and salt should never have oxygen absorbers. Darn!! There was a church organization in Salt Lake City, Ut that had people “dry canning” food incorrectly. Yes, that happened to me ONCE. I wasted $1200.00 because the oxygen absorbers were the wrong size and therefore useless. A costly mistake you only make once. I had to throw out ALL of it. It was all rancid. I have all sorts of storage buckets, my favorite size for my pantry is this 2-gallon bucket (I add Gamma Lids designed for this 2-gallon size). https://pleasanthillgrain.com/two-2-gallon-buckets I buy my honey from Cox’s honey through the mail from Shelley, ID. I would trust what they say. Linda

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  • August 28, 2018 at 10:26 pm
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    Hi Linda! Thanks for the great info as always! I’m excited to add more of these 15 food items that never go bad to my stash. And really like the idea of the 2 gallon buckets.

    I’ve been meaning to email you about a great find. You have talked numerous times about the Blue Can Water and I’ve really wanted to add that to my stash as well but the price was always holding me back. Well I found a company Brownells.com which is actually more of a hunting/firearms website but they have a section for emergency and survival…..which makes sense if you’re going out in the woods to hunt. Anyhow they sale a 24 pack for 29.99. And if you have patience they have sales every few weeks that can be anywhere from 10-20% off depending on how much you buy and even Free shipping! I got my stash and even had 2 boxes mailed to my parents and my brothers family for emergencies. Hoping this info can help others to add to their stash especially if the price tag on Amazon scared them away because I know I was.

    Thank you so much for all you do. I’m feeling more prepared, although I still have a long way to go.

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    • August 29, 2018 at 4:44 am
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      Hi, Kimmy, OH MY GOSH!!! I just bought four cases of BlueCan water!! This is the cheapest place I have ever seen it. I want to share this on Facebook. I signed up for the emails too! I got $10.00 off with submitting my email and free shipping!! This is an awesome find!!!!! Thank you so much! Linda

      Reply
  • August 29, 2018 at 11:18 pm
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    What is the temperature range you recommend when you say to keep foods in a “cool” and dry location? My basement ranges in temperature between 55 deg in the winter to 68 in the summer.

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    • August 30, 2018 at 6:12 am
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      Hi Arthur, you have the perfect temperature. I have a one level home in the desert and it will never be that cool. Most commercial food storage companies recommend a temperature of 65 degrees. Because I cannot keep the temperature of my home that low my food storage will have a shorter shelf-life. You are lucky to have a basement with temps that low. Love it! Linda

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  • January 7, 2023 at 6:22 pm
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    Great article & a good list of basics, Linda!
    I had decided to add another layer to our long-term food storage & ordered some bundles of different sized mylar bags , labels & O2 absorbers from Wallaby this past October. I finally got to begin filling them today. I was using their 1 gallon gusseted bags. Those are some stout bags! 7.5 mil thick & very hefty ziploc closures. Once I finish filling the bags, I will add the oxygen absorbers & heat seal the mylar. I am going to use some of the larger mylar bags & oxygen absorbers to store extra dog & cat food.

    I was able to clear out a few months backlog of dried beans, rice & pastas today. I have our deep pantry, our canned goods restock pantry, our vacuum sealed pantry & now am working on creating the mylar & oxygen absorber pantry.

    Really working on getting stuff better organized this year. Now that I am retired I finally have time to sort, store & inventory everything.

    Been helping a good friend gather supplies for her first venture into goat keeping. She now has the basics but we still have quite a lot that is on backorder from as far back as early October. Most of the backorders are medical supplies/ equipment. She did get her two doelings this afternoon & sent me lots of cute pictures.

    Will be planting as much as we can this year. I will be getting my recycled kiddie pools & leaky water tank container gardens topped off with compost & mulch this month. I got my seeds ready to start soon. We did discover that we have several large patches of wild strawberries scattered around the pasture & yard. And a bunch of wild amaranth that the chickens adore! God always surprises us with such unexpected blessings!

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    • January 8, 2023 at 7:32 am
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      Hi BDN, it feels so good when you have extra time to organize, sort, donate, and rotate. What a blessing to find the wild strawberries and wild amaranth. YAY! Your friend is lucky to have you to teach the skills you have for raising goats. Growing your own food is a blessing and it’s so rewarding! Good job, Linda

      Reply
  • January 9, 2023 at 7:54 pm
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    Dear Linda love all your good info and recipes. I have seen wheat in the Idaho Falls and Pocatello Idaho Costco stores. The price started out at $25.99, it’s now $32. something. I bought a number of buckets at the $25.99 price wish I had bought more. They also have oatmeal in the buckets. Their the 5 gallon size so hold close to 50 lbs. Hope that helps someone, also made by Lehi Mills.

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    • January 10, 2023 at 9:46 am
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      Hi Jeanne, I love Lehi Mills products. They wash their wheat more than any other company. Which means fewer rocks or debris in my wheat. I can’t afford to break my wheat grinders with inferior wheat. They used to come in 6-gallon containers (hard white wheat) at Costco for $18.99. Thankfully you bought some when you did. The oatmeal is great as well. Thanks for sharing, Linda

      Reply

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