Storing foods that last 25 years or more is not something that the average person thinks to do; however, it should be. Preppers, survivalists, homesteaders, permaculturists, and prudent people all know the importance of proper long-term food storage. You should also, in case you become one of the millions affected by a natural disaster each year.
Storing foods that last is much easier than you may assume, you just need proper containers, a storage area, and an absence of oxygen and water in your sealed food containers. The most common reason why food goes bad is due to bacteria growth. Bacteria need a certain amount of hydration and oxygen to grow. If you remove those two elements via dehydration and deoxidization, you’ll create foods that last for decades (or even centuries) in your stockpile.
Today, I’ll be showing you 18 kinds of foods that are known to last 25 years or more when stored properly.
Honey is well-known for being the longest lasting and most sustainable food source there is. We can thank the bees for their ingenious methods of flower pollination and honey making. Honey can last for forever (not just twenty-five years) and should always be stored in a dry place with the lid on at all times.
If your honey becomes crystallized, it can be melted down to its natural syrupy state again. Just place the container in a bath of warm water, and the crystals will melt down to revert it to its original honey goodness.
2. Dried Lentils (Beans)
Beans are a great way to get both fiber and carbohydrates when you’re low on supplies. If stored in a cool, dry place, you may also keep dried lentils for forever. Since they come in a variety of forms (including mixed variety packs), you might want to make it easy for your future self and yourself and future generations by buying variety packs.
White rice is the most recommended because brown rice has the highest possibility of going rancid over time. Make sure that, whatever kind you get, it is in very dehydrated form and exceptionally well sealed off. It’s okay to break the seal temporarily to check on it but then seal it back up again.
More than anything else, oats taste the best with butter, honey, and milk, with a little salt added. Set up your potential oatmeal for success by also storing ghee (listed below), honey, and salt.
Sugar in its purest form is almost as untouchable as salt (listed below). Since sugar only requires a minimal amount of use with food, it can last a relatively long time, although not as long as salt.
6. Spices (dried)
Most dried spices can keep forever, provided rain and foul weather don’t touch them; dried spices are the perfect way to ensure your food supply bearably flavorful.
Found and mined out of mountains, salt is naturally long-lasting, without human intervention. Salt is a stored, crystalline form of the mineral, NaCl (sodium chloride). It is pretty easy to obtain if you don’t have access to salty mountainsides. If you live near the coast, you can use evaporated sea water. Easy peasy.
Meat can also be preserved with salt (see below), but a lot of salt is required to do this. Do not attempt to preserve meat with salt unless you have gallons and gallons of salt available.
8. Maple Syrup
Like honey, maple syrup, being nature-made sugar, easily stores and preserves for many, many years to come as long as it is kept closed, sealed and in a cool, dry place. Just like with honey, any crystalized maple syrup can be melted down by putting the container in a bath of warm water.
9. Hard Liquor and Alcohol (including Vanilla Extract and other types of extracts)
Oh, Alcohol. You have played us for a fool many times. And it looks like we’ll be keeping you around, long into hard times too!
Alcohol, particularly batches of hard liquor (with higher fermentation and alcohol-to-water ratio), can keep very well for over twenty-five years, easily. Again, just like with wine (which is listed below), be sure and not store it in places with toxic fumes. All fermented products have a high capacity to soak up their environment over time.
Wine ages well over time, if bottled and sealed correctly, due to the fermentation process. However, if stored in a boiler room, near a radiator, or in any place with acrid fumes, it can take on the flavors of these fumes and be awful when you finally open it. So, be sure you know where and how you are storing your wine.
11. Vinegar (Both White and Apple Cider)
Vinegar, like wine and hard liquor, is fermented and therefore impossible to spoil. Keep your vinegar closed and stored in a cool, dry place away from fumes of any type which can get into the liquid and taint it.
I know, I too thought that ghee was just a substitute for words like “gosh” and “oh my goodness.” Ghee is dehydrated butter that lasts practically forever in proper storage. You can take any butter at all and turn it into ghee by gently cooking it until all of the water has evaporated, and then putting it away into an airtight container.
Ghee is the one ingredient in this list that can make your foods that last go from ‘survival’ to ‘scrumptious’. If your cooking style reflects that of Paula Deen’s, make sure you put back a lot.
13. Beef and Chicken Bouillon Cubes
Bouillon cubes are dried, salted and compacted meats, making them last a long time.
When you are busy eating your well-stored food, nothing will make the food taste quite as appetizing as having it prepared with bouillon cubes. Fortunately, they also stored well because they are just dried meat and salt.
14. Soy Sauce
Because of its fermented and highly salty nature, soy sauce can last forever, even without refrigeration. However, it also needs to be stored away from fumes so that it doesn’t get tainted by outside smells.
15. Powdered Milk
When looking for Vitamins D, C, and Calcium, powdered milk is the perfect stored option if you don’t have any fresh citrus or fresh dairy around. It still retains its nutrition value even after it has been dried and stored for many years.
Hardtack is an unusual substance. Simply put, hardtack is flour and water that has been combined into a sort of cracker, then dried, thus evaporating the water out of it. In other words, it’s just hard flour with perhaps some salt added. It’s dry, tasteless, and hard to swallow (Gordon Ramsey would not approve) but it does provide you with the necessary grains and carbohydrates in crucial situations.
17. Hard Salted Meat
Now, this is an interesting phenomenon. First of all, you need to know a couple of things about this process:
- It takes a LOT of salt.
- It takes a LOT of water to reverse the process.
When storing large amounts of meat, you can pack the pieces in salt. This will temporarily preserve them at room temperature. However, for long-term storage, the meat will have to be completely dehydrated, which means that it will need to have ALL (not just the outside surface layers) of water removed from it. Over time, the salt around your meat will become slushy because it has soaked up all the water from the meat and more salt needs to be added. This is called Salt Brine, by the way.
Keep draining the salt brine out and packing in more salt until it no longer needs more salt. By this time, the meat will have turned hard as a rock and be like substantial protein stones. It will be completely inedible, so don’t attempt to eat it in this state.
To reverse the process, you will need to place the meat into a tub of water and gently boil back into it, replacing entire potfuls of water over and over again until all of the salt is out of the meat, and all of the water is back in the meat. This is very time consuming and water consuming. Assuming you have ample amounts of both, your stored meat will be fully restored and ready to enjoy!
18. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit can last many, many years but, just like wine, it must be stored in a safe place (not in the boiler room or some other location with fumes which it can soak up). Just like wine, dried fruit can soak up flavor elements from its surrounding areas, and that means that it must always be in a clean, dry place with enough air ventilation to keep it from being stuffy or gross.
Dried fruits go very well with salted nuts. Have an assortment, so you don’t grow bored with it, and try drizzling a little ghee or maple syrup over it sometime.
Foods that Last are Worth It
When preparing for the future, always remember that even well-stored food can be affected by rodents, weather, water, people, or other disasters. It is imperative to plan accordingly and have alternate means of survival. It’s not enough to have food stored for 25 years; the food has to be edible when you return to it.
If you want a list of foods at your local supermarket with the longest shelf life, take a look at this article.
Which are your favorite foods that last? Do you have any tips or tricks for making your stockpile last? Tell me about it in the comments section!