Sealed Foods that Last Forever

Rich M.
By Rich M. February 19, 2019 08:22

Sealed Foods that Last Forever

It seems as if the beginning and ending of prepping is stockpiling food. I say that because that’s how almost all of us start out and it’s something we keep on doing, even after most of our preps are done. With no sure idea of how long we’re going to have to survive off of our stockpile, it just seems to make sense to keep letting it build, even past what we originally intended.

Yet at the same time that we keep adding to our stockpiles, there’s a concern about whether all that food will last. As it comes from the supermarket, most foods won’t last long. So, we tend to repackage much of what we buy, making sure that bacteria, insects and rodents can’t get to them. Properly packaged, there are actually a number of foods which will last much longer than you’d expect.

Of course, a lot of this has to do with how well we package and store these foods. Proper packaging needs to be airtight and critter proof. Removing the oxygen from the package can help, as insects need oxygen to survive, just like we do. Dry foods have to be really dry, without any chance of moisture contaminating them. So, it can be worthwhile to add silica desiccant packages. But all this is within the realm of possibility; even, at times, within the realm of factory packaging, so that we don’t have to repackage it.

Don’t forget that when they dug up the tombs of the Egyptian Pharaohs and Mayan Kings, they found food that had been buried hundreds or even thousands of years ago. While much of it was lost, there was still some that had survived all those years; mostly grains. And those ancient people managed to do that, without our modern methods of packaging and storing food.

How did they do it? To start with, they started with dry foods, because bacteria can’t survive in a dry environment; they need a moist environment to live. Then they put those foods in sealed containers, where insects and rodents couldn’t get to them. Those same keys will work for us, even better, because we’ve got better containers and better technology than they did.

So, what sorts of foods can we package and expect them to still be good 10, 20 or even 30 years from now?

Baking Soda

Unlike baking powder, which doesn’t last for a prolonged period of time, baking soda will last a lifetime. The only thing you’ve really got to watch out for is that it doesn’t get wet. As long as you can protect it from moisture, it can’t go bad.

Granted, you can’t bake everything with just baking soda; but if you take some time looking in the recipe books, you can find that lot that you can do with it, even if you don’t have baking powder to use.

Related: Baking Soda – 112 Uses (WWII Series)

Grains

grains survival food storageMany sorts of grains will keep indefinitely, if they are packaged to protect them from moisture, insects and rodents. In ancient times they did this with clay pots. Today, we can do it with aluminized Mylar bags and plastic buckets. Add an oxygen absorber and most of those grains will be just as good in 20 years as they are today.

Unprocessed, unground grains are best for long-term storage. Oatmeal is actually one of the best; not instant oatmeal but the original rolled oats. While that will take longer to cook, it will provide you with a wholesome, nutritious breakfast.

White Rice is actually better for long-term storage than brown rice is, as long as you follow the same process of putting it in an aluminized Mylar bag, inside a five-gallon plastic bucket.

Related: How to Build a 44-Day Stockpile for Only $2.40 a Day

Popcorn

One grain that you may not think of is popcorn. Actually, much of the grain found in the tombs of those kings was dried corn. While I doubt they had microwave popcorn back then, corn was often ground for making various kinds of bread and tortillas. You might want to have a hand-crank grain mill to go with your popcorn and other grains, so that you can use it for baking with. That will be easier to work with than the stone grinding they did and not leave chips of stone in your meal.

Pasta in a Bucket

As it comes from the store, pasta will keep on the shelf for about a year. That’s mostly because it’s not all that attractive to bugs and bacteria. But left that way, it will supposedly go bad, eventually. To keep it for the amount of time we’re talking about, something more needs to be done with it, like putting it in an aluminized Mylar bag, with the air sucked out of it, inside a five-gallon plastic bucket. Stored like that, pasta may just last till sometime in the next century.

You can actually buy pasta already packaged this way, as “survival food” or you can do it yourself. If you want a variety in your pasta’s shapes (And who doesn’t?) then you’re probably better off packaging your own.

Salt

If you’ve done any food preserving, such as canning or drying food, you’ve run across salt as one of nature’s preservatives. It draws moisture out of food, through osmosis. This kills bacteria, which need a moist environment to survive. So, you can imagine what a pure salt environment would do to those bacteria. The only thing you really have to protect salt from is moisture. Back to the buckets again.

Related: What is Your Favorite Food to Stockpile?

Cane Sugar

Like salt, sugar is a natural preservative, although it is normally only used for preserving fruit. Like salt, it needs to be protected from moisture. But it also needs to be protected from insects, as many insects love sugar. Ants will go to great lengths to get to it, if the packaging isn’t strong enough to keep them out. So a bag, like the aluminized Mylar bags I mentioned isn’t enough, as ants can get through. This is one place you really need that plastic bucket, with a good seal.

Beans

Rice and Beans in Bucket

Dried beans of all sorts are one of the staples eaten around the world. There are a large variety of beans, or legumes, sold on the market; some of which you may not be familiar with. Some can even be ground into flour, for baking with.

Chick peas, for example, are ground in the Middle East for making a variety of dishes. Make sure you stock up on good recipes for using your bean hoard, especially if you are stockpiling beans that you aren’t used to eating.

As with grains, beans don’t come from the grocery store packaged for long-term storage. You’ll need to repackage them in aluminized Mylar bags, inside of five-gallon plastic buckets. But once you do, they’ll keep a good 30 years.

Honey

Like sugar, honey will keep forever. But you need to make sure that you have pure honey. Some brands of honey, especially those which come from China, add fillers. You’re better off buying honey that is stored in glass containers, rather than plastic, as the chemicals from the plastic can actually leech into the honey.

Honey also has medicinal properties, so there’s more than one reason to stockpile it. But you really shouldn’t give honey to children under five, as it isn’t good for them.

Pure Maple Syrup

Real maple syrup, stored in a glass bottle or jar, will keep virtually forever, just like honey will. It is also healthy in that it is loaded with vitamin D. The key to keeping it for a prolonged period of time is keeping it in a sealed container. Once the container has been opened, it will start to crystallize.

Related: Trees That Can Be Tapped For Sap And Syrup

Powdered Milk

The powdered milk you find in the grocery store isn’t really ideal for long-term storage. Not only is it not packaged to keep for a long time, but the milk itself isn’t prepared properly for long-term storage. However, you can buy buckets of powdered milk that are properly prepared for long-term storage, which you can count on keeping good for 20 years or more.

Just a note here; some of the survival food companies who packaged powdered milk for long-term storage; but you have to buy it from them, not the grocery store.

Cacao

The Mayans prized Cacao (cocoa) as a food of the gods. It was considered to have incredible health benefits for those who ate it. It’s useful to energize you, in addition to its wonderful flavor. It will also keep virtually forever, especially when properly sealed away in a bucket.

Freeze-dried Coffee

Any true coffee snob will tell you that coffee needs to be fresh, to be good. While the rest of us might not notice if the coffee we used to make ourselves our morning cup was a couple of months old, we would if it was a couple of years old. However, freeze-dried coffee will keep virtually forever, without changing. One of the first foods ever freeze-dried, coffee is still one of the best.

Tea

Like coffee, tea will keep well for a prolonged period of time. But in this case, the tea leaves themselves can be kept; rather than needing it freeze-dried. The only thing needed, for keeping it safe, is to keep it in a moisture-proof container.

Soy Sauce

Believe it or not, soy sauce will keep indefinitely. It is a fermented food, which makes it impossible for it to go bad. Some other condiments are also fermented, like Worcestershire sauce, so they will keep indefinitely too. The key here though, is that it has to be in glass bottles, as the chemicals in plastic will leach into the food, if kept long enough.

You may also like:

10 Long Shelf-Life Canned Foods Every Prepper Should Consider Stockpiling

This Strange Method Will Make Your Food Last For 2 Years Without Refrigeration (Video)

Cracking Open My Stockpile Of Pemmican After 1 Year

7 Super Cheap Foods To Stockpile That People Usually Throw Away

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Rich M.
By Rich M. February 19, 2019 08:22
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49 Comments

  1. Dawn February 19, 15:26

    Great advice. Thank you

    Reply to this comment
  2. left coast chuck February 19, 15:48

    In Asian markets one can buy Kikkoman soy sauce sealed in one gallon cans which will last longer than you will as long as the cans are kept from dry and reasonably cool. I wouldn’t let the can sit out in the sun in Tucson in the summer time but quite a few southeast Asia countries are quite warm in the summer, so just plain old heat of a hot day inside a house shouldn’t bother it.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Keeping it Real February 19, 16:06

    Just a quick thought: plastic buckets are not real good at keeping out the critters. Rats and mice can and will chew right through them to get at food inside or even just to make nests. If you live around a city or even in a close suburb there are tons of the little buggers that will mess up your prepping if you don’t check it regularly. If i were to have plastic buckets hold my future food, I’d place the bucket inside a galvanized can.

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    • Wannabe February 20, 12:43

      Are the buckets food grade or just something bought at Lowe’s? Food grade are thicker but not sure if that makes a difference with rats. Just curious. I guess a number of traps around stores would be in order.

      Reply to this comment
      • Nene February 21, 00:20

        Rats can eat through just about anything. Just ask some of the NYC rat patrol people.

        Reply to this comment
      • Miss Kitty February 21, 03:19

        Put items in plastic, then in metal? Or even glass jars, then plastic, then metal. I’d rather be redundant than find all my stores damp, weavily and rat chewed. Also, what rats can’t smell they won’t try to get to. Isolating grains in smaller packages helps prevent bugs from spreading through the whole supply.

        Reply to this comment
    • Hoosier Homesteader February 20, 21:39

      Good point, Keeping It Real, rats, mice, chipmunks, they’ll get into buckets if they sense food. A good alternative for the bucket would be the big popcorn tins you see everywhere at Christmas. They work very well, and critters won’t chew through. Tins come in all shapes and sizes and should be taken advantage of.
      Also, in addition to mylar bags and buckets, the vacuum sealers for food that can be picked up at about any box store work well too. Good ole canning jars are good storage as well; just keep them in a dark storage area. Also, any good jar with a metal lid, like a jelly jar, make good single serving food storage receptacles.
      Basically, if a bug or a rodent can’t get in, it’ll make a good storage container.

      Reply to this comment
      • misslou March 14, 19:08

        Food not safe in POPCORN TINS Bugs got into my flour in one

        Reply to this comment
        • efzapp May 21, 16:55

          misslou, I think they meant after sealing the flour, etc., in a mylar bag. Yes, bugs can get into a popcorn tin or a jar with a screw on lid. Since I read about insects not liking the scent of dry bay leaf, I try to put bay leaves in the packages before I seal them. I put bay leaves in my final containers and I spread bay leaves around the refrigerator, stove, in drawers all around my kitchen. I finish it by putting Gorilla duct tape around the lids. Luckily, I have a bay leaf tree/bush and dehydrate a lot of bay leaf.

          Reply to this comment
    • Pooh Bear February 22, 01:02

      emmer, Thanks for the info. Now I know what to do when I run out of baking powder.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Tom February 19, 16:07

    I didn’t see freeze dried potato flakes on there but I would imagine that repacked they might last a while longer?

    Reply to this comment
    • Homesteader February 21, 17:13

      That is true. They will last longer. Several years ago, I bought 4 or 5 large boxes of potato flakes and repackaged them in canning jars with O2 absorbers and vacuum sealed them. I had some flakes left over that I kept in the box. What was in the box started tasting like the cardboard very quickly whereas the flakes in canning jars still taste as fresh as the day they were sealed in. The jars are dated between 2010 and 2012.

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  5. Dr. Jeffrey February 19, 16:12

    We made some hardtack about 25 years ago. Still as tasteless as ever. Also made pemmican at the same time. Just ate some the other day. I know hardtack will keep forever. Just how long will pemmican last?

    Reply to this comment
  6. CJ February 19, 16:26

    A word about dry beans. Yes, they keep for YEARS, but, the older they get, the harder they are to rehydrate, and the longer they take to cook tender. Adding salt to the soak water speeds up rehydration, but they still take a long time to cook tender. I now precook and dehydrate the cooked beans. Cooked all night in the crockpot until mushy tender, they rehydrate beautifully after drying. They take a little more water than 1:1 dehydrated beans and water, but not much. I’ve made soup and chili so far. Prepared this way and then packaged for long-term storage, when you do need them, you will need far fewer resources, water and fuel, to use them.

    Reply to this comment
    • Gram to six February 20, 17:01

      I have often thought that beans would be hard to cook in a SHTF scenario. Usually water and fuel to cook them can be scarce. I like how you have handled them. I also have a few videos from people who can them. After pressuring cooking them they are pretty much fully cooked.

      Reply to this comment
      • Steve April 23, 15:33

        Lentil beans cook very fast compared to other beans and are exceptionally good for you. green ones take about 1/2 hour and red ones cook even faster.

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    • efzapp May 21, 17:00

      Cj, thanks for the salt hint when rehydrating. I guess I’ll start cooking and dehydrating my beans. You’re right about there being less water after the SHTF. If worse comes to worse you can just eat the dehydrated beans.

      Reply to this comment
  7. KCK February 19, 16:34

    I’ve been stockpiling ground coffee for a while now (several years) and we go through the oldest first. Since I buy twice or four times what I need at a time, the oldest ones now are around 5 years old and my husband and anyone who comes over cannot tell it’s that old. I will say that this coffee is in metal cans, not plastic, as plastic is porous and will eventually let air in. If I get any in plastic, i transfer to Mylar.

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  8. KCK February 19, 16:37

    P.S. If you want a REALLY cheap source of salt, go to your local farm store and buy the 50lb blocks (around $5) and wrap them up to keep them clean. They are pure salt and you’d simply have to grate a bit off when needed.

    Reply to this comment
    • Homesteader February 21, 17:27

      Question – Do those salt blocks have added ingredients just for the farm animals, like flavoring or some kind of nutrient, or are some of them just plain salt? I’ve seen some in the farm stores where I live that have a bunch of additives in them. Just curious and just asking.

      Reply to this comment
      • Miss Kitty February 21, 19:34

        Should say on packages, or call manufacturer. You could also ask your local large animal vet -explain the situation and maybe even get Rx for antibiotics, etc. And you could always recommend ask a proper to them! 😉

        Reply to this comment
  9. Auge Audre Zembrzuski February 19, 16:40

    Iam always impressed with the things you write about. As a kid, I can still picture my Mother doing some of the things you write about, How to keep foods, package them and she didn’t have all the good things you do. I am 83, and I remember helping my Mother put things in jars. What a great job it was and you remind me of going back in time. thanks for the memories that I will always remember.

    Reply to this comment
  10. vlad February 19, 17:50

    I’ve been eating store bought canned veggies, coffee, pasta, cereals, tea, peanut butter, mayo, catsup, dressings etc. for years that are 3, 5, some even 7years old. I’m healthy and use common sense. this dating product is largely a scam…use your head.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Carol February 19, 17:58

    I take sugar out of the bags and put in glass jars, or some plastic jars. Same with beans, and powdered milk. I don’t have mylar bags. Would it be ok to use plastic freezer storage bags? Great info – thank very much.

    Reply to this comment
    • Jj February 19, 23:37

      A quick note about sugar in 2/3 gallon buckets.
      I had one get solid…so I thought. I left it in the garage until I got time to try to deal with it.

      Well, I thought it was stuck and hardened so I took a small clean hammer to chop at it–the instant I chopped the top a little, it dissolved and I had sugar grains again.
      Glad I didn’t discard to the dumpster; it wasn’t hard at all underneath the top 1/2 inch.

      Reply to this comment
      • Miss Kitty February 20, 06:38

        No need to discard even if it did get hard. Just rub off what you need with a hand grater- maybe pound it with a hammer to break it up first. I had to do that one really humid summer – it was fine.

        Reply to this comment
      • Nightfury77 February 21, 05:40

        I found if you add an oxygen absorber to sugar it makes it hard also. No need for them in sugar.

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  12. Miss Kitty February 19, 18:33

    Great article! Reminds me of the list given to Mormons for emergency preparedness. I would like to see maybe a secondary list – just for inspiration. 😉 Keep up the good work!

    Reply to this comment
  13. emmer February 19, 19:30

    you mention baking soda and baking powder. did you know that baking powder, which keeps maybe 18 months, can be made from 2 parts baking soda, 1 part tartaric acid (cream of tartar), and one part cornstarch. the corn starch just keeps the acid and the base separated. cream of tartar is found in the bottom of wine barrels and sometimes in the bottom of grape juice bottles. it is an almost clear crystal. you could keep the 2 active ingredients separate and combine them as needed, using 1/2 tsp soda and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar instead of 1 tsp baking soda. or you could use soda and make sure there is an acid in you recipe to activate it.

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  14. ArizonaDave February 19, 23:36

    I’ve been successful with storing dried pinto beans in mason jars. They originally weren’t stored there for the long haul, but after 9 years, they’re still good. Then again, I live in the desert.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Gram to six February 20, 17:04

    I have often thought that beans would be hard to cook in a SHTF scenario. Usually water and fuel to cook them can be scarce. I like how you have handled them. I also have a few videos from people who can them. After pressuring cooking them they are pretty much fully cooked.

    Reply to this comment
    • Homesteader February 21, 21:20

      Pressure canning is a good way to store beans but not the only way. I understand you concern about needing extra water and fuel. That’s where planning ahead helps – and there’s no time like now to get started.

      Water was our first priority when we started prepping. Without water, nothing else matters. Besides having water stored, we have a water source and the means to purify it. If you currently live in a city or suburb, water will definitely be a problem when the pumps quit working, and finding ways to cook will bring new challenges.

      As for the beans, we have a large variety of dried beans stored. Being dry, they don’t take up a lot of space, no where near as much as jars and jars of canned beans do. These will be soaked first, usually overnight, then cooked either on the kitchen stove, an open fire, or in the solar oven.

      When it was necessary to replace the kitchen stove. we opted for an off-the-grid model that uses no electricity. As long as we can get propane, we can cook indoors. Otherwise, we have the set-up available for cooking over a fire outside, or on a sunny day, using the solar oven. There are lots of ways to cook during an SHTF situation. Although using an open fire during that time may not be the best choice since it will tend to attract attention – something you really don’t want at a time like that. That where the solar oven will come in handy, besides, its fuel is free. If you live in an city, a solar oven might be a good option for being able to cook without electricity or the need for firewood.

      Reply to this comment
    • ArizonaDave February 22, 19:40

      Water situation is the first thing we addressed, however good point on canning.

      Reply to this comment
  16. Black Dawn February 20, 22:13

    Most of this isn’t even fucking food. More like ingredients.

    Reply to this comment
    • Hoosier Homesteader February 21, 01:14

      Keep in mind, BD, that these ingredients are used to make your own foods, like breads, soups, etc. Ya gotta have the stuff, to make stuff. Me, I can get along for a mighty long time just on the things mentioned in the comments.
      Some mighty good eatin’. Yes indeed!

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    • Homesteader February 21, 20:41

      Most of us on here cook from scratch rather than buying pre-made meals. That’s why you see a lot about ingredients. Ingredients are cheaper to buy, easier to store, and you have more latitude with what you do with them.

      Reply to this comment
  17. IvyMike February 21, 01:07

    I don’t remember how I stumbled over this site but it’s a great place for new ideas. One thing I’m doing for the 1st time is planting all Heirloom seeds in my garden this year, never saw the advantage of it until I read that is the only way to be sure of getting viable seed from your crop. Going to grow Mandan Bride flint corn this year. I’ve been trying the idea of letting my corn dry on the plant, then storing it, flint corn is the ideal type for this because it’s main usefulness is as a dried corn ground for corn flour, corn meal, grits, and posole.
    Another great thing from AAP is the rocket stove, the rocket stove idea is cool as (insert scatological expletive) and there are great design ideas on youtube. Rocket stove is the ideal way to cook dried beans without wasting the wood you split last summer to stay warm.

    Reply to this comment
    • Miss Kitty February 21, 03:12

      Hi IvyMike. A source for some of your seed I would recommend is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They’ll send you a free catalog and the prices are pretty good. Lots of non-gmo product, plus some off the beaten path items. You can also contact a seed exchange group in your area or start your own with like minded friends to expand your selection. Good luck! 😉

      Reply to this comment
    • Pooh Bear February 22, 00:38

      Hi Ivy Mike, I remember you from The Best States. I hope dp and hacksaw don’t find this one they ruined all the other ones with their vulger talk. I liked your comment . What is flint corn. I would love to know.

      Reply to this comment
    • Hoosier Homesteader February 22, 00:43

      Congrats on taking that big step, IVY. We’ve been growing heirloom seeds for a long time.
      Hope you have a grain mill; you’re gonna need one 🙂

      Reply to this comment
  18. Wannabe February 22, 01:02

    Mason jars make great storage containers for dry goods. Just put an oxygen absorber or two in it and it will seal the lid.

    Reply to this comment
  19. Pooh Bear February 22, 01:24

    I was having trouble with rats.They even chewed the wire harnness in my car. Had to replace it. I tried everything to stop them. I found that a drop or two of peppement oil does the trick. It worked in my car and in the room where I keep my plastic buckets.In the buckets I keep dried herbs in Mylar bags .I got the herbs at a store that was closing for a dime a jar. Had to put them somewhere.

    Reply to this comment
  20. willy kanos February 26, 18:07

    RE Powdered milk: The powdered milk that is normally sold in the US is dehydrated skim milk. That, of course, means that much of the value and caloric count has been removed. There is an exception. A product called ‘Nido’ is made in Mexico and sold in most US supermarkets. It is dehydrated whole milk. Look for it in the Hispanic foods section. It’s made by Nestle’.

    Reply to this comment
  21. Mr Kid February 27, 00:06

    The grain found in the Egyptian tombs wasn’t maize corn. Corn was brought to the Old World after Columbus. Corn was a generic phrase used for many things, such as course salt andlarge grained material like gunpowder. Corned beef is Salted beef for example.

    Reply to this comment
  22. Nick February 27, 01:51

    Corn? Not popcorn which a new world crop.

    Reply to this comment
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