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Inexpensive. Easy to prepare. Calorie-dense. Shelf-stable. You can check off each of these important reasons why rice should be part of your survival pantry. When stored in the proper environment, rice can last for decades.
This article will discuss how to maintain that right environment and other facts you need to know for long-term rice storage.
Different Types of Rice Have Different Shelf Lives
Rice, in all its forms, is a healthy staple that serves as an excellent source of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel. However, not all rice varieties are suitable for long-term storage.
Although brown rice, as a whole grain, is more nutritious than white rice, it does not have nearly as long a shelf life as white rice varieties like Basmati, Arborio, Jasmine, and long-grain rice.
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Here’s why. The bran and the germ have been removed from white rice, while brown rice contains all the nutritious parts of the grain. However, the husk that remains in dry brown, purple, and black rice is filled with natural oils that can go bad after only 18 months, regardless of your storage methods.
On the other hand, uncooked white rice can last for five years in its store packaging and 30 years or more when stored in an oxygen-free container or freezer. Instant white rice that is free of preservatives stores as long as other white rice varieties. Wild rice also is an excellent choice for long-term storage.
Supplies for Long-Term Rice Storage
Here is a list of supplies to consider for long-term rice storage:
- Mylar Bags. Mylar bags are durable, flexible, non-porous, light-reflective, and puncture-resistant. You can use these bags alone or placed inside food-grade buckets. You can save money by ordering Mylar bags in bulk.
- Oxygen Absorbers. Oxygen can be your survival pantry’s worst enemy. However, you can decrease the threat of exposure by placing these food-grade absorbers inside your jars, bags, or buckets.
- Vacuum Sealer. A vacuum sealer removes the air from a plastic bag and then seals the bag with heat. This tight seal helps prevent moisture loss, freezer burn, and bacteria. Here is a link to some of the vacuum sealers Amazon has to offer.
- Canning Jars. Rice will store well in lidded glass Mason jars. You’ll find many sizes and varieties of jars here.
- Food-Grade Buckets. Placing rice inside a food-grade bucket offers an added level of protection against the elements. Some restaurants and stores give away food-grade buckets. Or you can order a supply of your five-gallon buckets here.
Steps for Storing Rice
The primary enemies of long-term rice storage are light, heat, oxygen, moisture, and insects. For short-term use of six months or so, you may keep rice in its unopened original store packaging.
However, for long-term storage, you’ll want to transfer the rice to another packaging to prevent those enemies from destroying your supply.
Freeze your rice for a few days before placing it in other containers. Freezing will destroy any insect eggs or larvae that may be hiding in your rice. Another idea is to place a bay leaf inside each of your rice containers as a natural way to ward off bugs.
Repackage your rice in an airtight container. I recommend sealing it in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, but you can also use a vacuum sealer or even canning jars. After that, put them into a food-grade bucket that will keep the light out.
Store your rice containers in a cool, dry, dark place. A closet or a pantry is perfect.
Rice Storage FAQs
How can you tell if your stored rice is still okay to eat?
Trust your sense when it comes to spoiled food. Brown rice may smell rancid or look oily or discolored.
Signs of spoiled rice are holes in the packaging, discoloration, and the visual presence of bugs, mold, or moisture.
How long does cooked rice last?
Cooked rice will last for only about a week when stored in the refrigerator. If left out on the counter, it can go bad in only a few hours.
What bugs typically infest uncooked rice?
The eggs that infest rice may belong to the weevils or moth families. They may arrive unseen as larvae in the store packaging and then hatch and grow into adults that lay more eggs.
Consuming rice weevils is not usually harmful, but eating visibly infested rice can be very unappealing.
Freezing uncooked rice for three days before storing it will destroy grown weevils, larvae, and pupae that may be in the rice.
Can you freeze rice long-term?
Yes, you can store uncooked rice in the freezer. However, you may want to maintain enough freezer space for other more perishable foods that cannot be stored on the pantry shelf. And, during a power outage, uncooked rice will absorb any condensation that builds up inside the freezer.
How much rice should I store in my survival pantry?
According to the Utah State University Extension Service, families should aim to store about 300 pounds of grains per person for a one-year supply. Depending on your personal preference, that grain supply should contain 25 to 60 pounds of stored rice per person.
White rice is a primary food source for more than half of the world’s population, and there are about 4,000 varieties from 22 countries. There is good reason rice is included among the top foods you should store in your survival pantry. You can find bulk packages of rice in most supermarkets and many online marketplaces.
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