Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
When it comes to stockpiling food, shelf life is by far one of the most important factors that preppers must pay attention to. While most foods will have a limited shelf-life, there are a few foods that can be safely stored for more than one hundred years.
If you are looking for foods that you never have to worry about going bad, check out these seventeen survival foods that can last a century.
However, before you go out and start buying them, keep in mind that these foods will only last a century if they’re stored properly. Be sure to read the food storage section at the end of the article for more information.
Note: A lot of people have pointed out that many of these aren’t actually foods; they’re ingredients. I guess by food, I meant anything that you can ingest. If you can’t eat it by itself, you can at least use it in a recipe.
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As most people know, wine gets better the older it gets. However, over time the fruiter flavors will fade leaving behind the non-fruity flavors, which could be good or bad, depending on the wine. Base liquors (brandy, gin, vodka, whiskey, etc.) will last indefinitely. Beer, on the other hand, will not last 100 years. At best it will last a few years if refrigerated and only a year or so when not refrigerated.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is probably one of the healthiest foods in the world. It has tons of health benefits and literally over 100 uses, so even if you don’t cook with it, it’s still worth stockpiling.
3. Baking Soda
Baking soda is an important ingredient in a wide range of recipes as well as a versatile product that can be used for everything from cleaning to personal hygiene. Here’s a list of uses for baking soda.
When stored in airtight containers, baking soda won’t ever go bad. Transfer your baking soda from the cardboard carton it comes in to a more permanent container and keep it in a cool, dry place.
Specifically, dried beans, which are listed as having an indefinite shelf-life when stored in airtight containers. However, dried beans do begin to lose their moisture after a few years in storage, meaning they might not have the same taste and texture after a certain point.
Nevertheless, they will remain edible, making dried beans a great survival food to stockpile.
5. Corn Starch
Cornstarch is a great ingredient for thickening sauces and adding flavor to various dishes. It also never goes bad.
However, since most cornstarch is sold in cardboard cartons that will break down over time, you may want to transfer your cornstarch to a more permanent container before storing it.
6. Corn Syrup
Corn syrup might not be the healthiest food, but it is a great sweetener that never goes bad.
Store your corn syrup in a cool, dry area and it will have an indefinite shelf-life.
Ghee is a form of butter that originated in South Asia. Unlike traditional butter, ghee never goes bad since all of the moisture is evaporated out.
Store your ghee in a cool, dry place and you will always have a tasty butter substitute available.
Honey may crystallize and begin turning to sugar over time, but it never really goes bad. Simply heating the honey in warm water will dissolve these crystals in a matter of minutes.
Stored in either plastic or glass jars, honey has an indefinite shelf life, meaning you can enjoy a sweet treat no matter how many years have gone by.
9. Instant Coffee
If you are one of the many people that rely on a cup of coffee each morning to kickstart your day, you’ll be happy to know that instant coffee never spoils when stored properly.
To keep instant coffee from going bad, you will have to store it in vacuum sealed bags that are kept in a freezer.
10. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is similar to honey in many ways. It can be stored indefinitely without going bad when kept in a cool, dry place, but may begin to crystallize over time.
As with honey, a little warm water is all it takes to dissolve the crystals.
To be honest, making this one last a century might be difficult. It needs to be plain popcorn kernels without any seasoning, and it needs to be completely vacuum sealed and kept cool and away from any moisture. But technically, it’s possible to make it last for decades or even longer.
Rice is a staple survival food, thanks in part to the fact that it is cheap and filling. However, rice is also an ideal survival food thanks to its indefinite shelf-life.
Before they are opened, bags of rice will last forever when stored in a cool, dry place. After opening a bag of rice, you’ll have to transfer it to a freezer to keep it from spoiling.
Salt will last an eternity in storage – which makes sense given that salt is often mined from the earth after resting beneath the ground for untold amounts of time. However, make sure you get non-iodized salt. Even though the salt lasts forever, the iodine will go bad after five years.
Simply store your salt in a cool, dry area and it will never go stale. Be sure to get sea salt, which retains more nutrients than ordinary table salt.
14. Soy Sauce
Due largely to its high sodium content, soy sauce has an indefinite shelf-life, so long as it remains unopened.
Simply store your soy sauce in a cool, dry area and it will never spoil.
Despite the fact that cells survive on a form of sugar – glucose – sugar itself does not support the growth of bacteria.
This means that all forms of sugar – including white, brown, and powdered sugar – will last forever when kept in an airtight container and stored in a cool, dry area.
16. Vanilla Extract
This stuff is essential if you like to bake or make pancakes. When stored properly, pure vanilla extract will never spoil.
However, it is essential to ensure that you really are purchasing pure vanilla extract as opposed to artificial vanilla extract since the artificial stuff only has a shelf-life of three to four years.
If you purchase the real thing and store it in a cool, dry place, it won’t ever spoil.
17. White Vinegar
White vinegar is a necessary ingredient for many recipes and a versatile cleaning supply as well. It has lots of uses around the house.
It also lasts forever when stored properly – which entails keeping your vinegar in a tightly sealed container and storing it in a cool, dry place.
Food Storage Tips
Did I mention storing your food in a cool, dry place? This is incredibly important.
- Do not store your food in the garage, attic, shed, or any place that will get hot in the summer.
- Do not store your food near windows or anywhere with direct sunlight.
- Do not store your food in the laundry room, basement, or any room with lots of humidity.
- Do not store your food in places that could get mold or pests of any kind.
Obviously, there are many ways to store food, but for the dry foods listed above, your best bet is to put them in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and put those in food grade buckets with lids. (The liquids can stay in their bottles; just put them in a location withe criteria listed above.)
To store your dry foods, do the following:
- Pour your foods into the Mylar bags until all your bags are almost full (leave an inch of space at the top).
- Write the names of the foods on the sides of the bags so you don’t forget what’s what.
- Use an iron or a hair straightener to start sealing the bags, but only seal them about 2/3 across.
- Open the pack of oxygen absorbers and put one or two into each bag, depending on how many you have.
- Use a vacuum hose to suck as much air out of the bag as possible, then finish sealing it.
- Repeat the last step with the rest of the bags.
- Put your sealed bags into the food grade buckets. Fit as many into the buckets as you can.
- Use a rubber mallet to pound the lids into place.
As long as you do these things, the foods listed above should last at least a century. One more thing, don’t forget to rotate your food.
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Tony malfara says
I had a jar of Gee that went bad before the best before date.
Ken Robinson says
With the exception of Rice and Beans none of the others can be readily combined into a meal.
Beans will harden so much after a year or so that no amount of cooking will render then palatable. They are hard and can be eaten, and will sustain life, but not enjoyed. Still, I stocked up several years both of lbeans and lentils.
People can sure be picky just take what you like and leave the rest or don’t read it at all. I agree with some and not other
Rick Palmer says
Food preserved in glass (bottles , mason jars ,etc. ) can further be protected from breakage by putting them in a bucket , stacked however you would find useful , and the gaps filled with sand acting as a cushion. I would recommend # 20 silica sand for pool filter use , as the crystalline surface is very angular . This serves the secondary purpose of also acting as a safe nontoxic insecticide . Rather than poisons , it’s surface cuts into the ectoskelleton, causing the insect to die . CAUTION : wear breathing protection when using any type of silica sand , the dust is not particularly conducive to maintaining long term lung function.
The above caution is aimed at those who don’t have common sense . (I know , l know , that’s not politically correct ! But we all know some of those folks . )
Chill out people! just read the article and quit complaining!!
Bemused Berserker says
Ghee does not last 100 years! One year under best conditions is its life expectancy before the oils begin to go rancid.
Guy H says
Interesting points and comments. I am curious about your storage recommendations. You state to use oxygen absorbers then to suck out the remaining air with a vacuum hose. Why not just use a vacuum sealer to suck out all the air & seal the package? Seems to me that that would be more efficient and last longer. But I don’t know though. Thx!
I have put up a lot of grains, beans, pasta in vacuum bags with a vacuum sealer. The next step will be to place them in storage buckets.
Ultra Skeptic says
I’ve found vacuum-sealed bags unreliable over time. So I start with vacuum sealing, but in addition, I leave oxygen absorbers in the bag as a backup for the failures.
Notice that most of the comments are fairly old, but thought I would add this. I do “oven canning” for many types of things. Rice, dried beans, flour, anything that doesn’t have oil or sugar content, etc. Using CLEAN sterilized jars, put contents in, I leave about 1/2 or 1 inch of top space, do not put the lids or rings on, place the filled jars on a cookie sheet (in case they spill…easy to clean up then)…, Put in a 250 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove VERY HOT jars with a hot pad, put on lid and rings. You will hear them pop and seal. I just finished my last jar of flour that was oven canned over seven years ago…products made with it were excellent.
Guy H. says
I was thinking about the same thing for things like flour, rice, etc.!
Good to know. I have oven canned grains and other things but not flour. I have a large bag of flour and was wondering what to do with it. Now I know. Thanks.
Lessons I learned with white rice. Many times, weevils will hatch out in store-bought rice. Putting the bag in the deep freezer for a couple of days will kill the eggs and larvae. I let the rice come back to room temperature, then stored it in gallon zip lock bags- ( just buying ahead-not for extremely long term). I stored the bags in a plastic ventilated bin, and later found that the outside of the zipper bags had begun to become sticky and the rice at the bottom was a gray moldy hunk! I won’t be doing that again!!
I oven can rice. So far, so good.
James Wilmington says
Zipper bag are NOT air tight. Zipper and the plastic leak air. Don’t believe me? Put a t-shirt in a gallon bag. Press it with books and seal. Take books off and let the bag sit for a couple of hours!!!
Alcohol and Liquor are the same thing so it is really a list of 16 items. Also listing Apple Cider Vinegar and White Vinegar should really be listed as one item…..Vinegar.
White vinegar is made from rice and a very is made from apples. Two different items.
Anything that requires refrigeration ior freezing is not a survival food. You can freeze the coffee, and the clock will begin to tick on it when you thaw. A sealed jar of well-packed instant will last 3-4 years at room temp.
Dried beans (even stored in mylar with an O2 absorber) will harden and get inedible skins. Pintos, the favorite survival beans, are the worst. Hard beans won’t ever soften, even in a pressure cooker. They will cause extreme intestinal distress, which is not good for a person trying to stay alive under duress. If you store dry beans, learn the difference in HTC and ETC beans.
Maple syrup at room temperature will grow nasties. Real,100% honey, will not.
Ramen, which is fried in oil that will become rancid, is a terrible storage food.
RE Raman Noodles, they Do go bad, and fairly quickly, because of the oil/fat used in many brands. It is easy to test by just smelling a package upon opening.
using a vacuum to suck out the air will just not work without a special setup to pinch it closed while you seal it…
On the salt… Morton’s says iodized salt only has a five year shelf life. The salt never goes bad, but the iodine does.
You’re right, thanks for pointing that out. The article as been updated.
Logistics Man says
The iodine doesn’t go bad, it just sublimates and goes away. You still have usable salt.
Most were not actually food but will come in handy in a survival situation. The title needs to be reworded. Clickbait? Maybe.
Salt E. Mom says
Advice that stands the test of time
If you stretch the truth maybe 5 of the 17 are foods you can eat: Ramen, rice, beans, coffee, and honey. You can’t eat as a diet: vinegar, syrup, soy, salt, baking soda and the rest. Granted they may aid in survival. BUT FOOD? NOT REALLY. Not a truthful list.
You’re right. Technically a lot of them are ingredients. But “17 Survival Ingredients” didn’t sound as good.
I agree, even the 5 you can eat the article mentions you cannot survive on for more than maybe 3 to 6 months at the most, because those 5 foods lack all sorts of nutrients your body needs. So, the food listed will be around 100 years but you’ll be long dead.
Interesting and logical.
You should rephrase the title and premise of the article. Most of these items are not foods. Helpful ingredients? Yes.
Milan Hofman says
Very interesting and inspiring, but where and what are survival foods ad 8/ and ad 9/?