25 Emergency Foods That Last For Decades

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25 Emergency Foods That Last For Decades

When it comes to emergency/survival food, most people think of freeze-dried pouches or buckets. These can be fine for camping trips or to have a few buckets in reserve for a short-term emergency. The problem that many people run into when trying to build a large storage of this type of food is the cost.

However, there are a lot of affordable foods and food ingredients that you can purchase at the grocery store that can last for decades or longer. The trick is knowing how to properly store it. In this article, we will be going over the supplies you need to properly preserve food, basic food preservation tips, and a list of 25 foods or food-related ingredients that have extremely long shelf lives. 

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Basic Food Storage Tips And Supplies

Before jumping into the list of shelf-stable foods, it’s important to first go over helpful supplies to have and some basic food storage tips. Let's start with some common supplies.

Mylar Bags

Mylar bags are plastic bags covered with a film of metallic material. They are great barriers against oxygen,  moisture, and light.

For more information on how to use mylar bags, check out this video.

Mylar Bag Sealers

These impulse sealers are used to melt and seal mylar bags. If you are on a budget, you can use a clothes iron or a flat iron instead.

For more information on how to seal mylar bags, check out this video.

Oxygen Absorbers and Desiccants

Oxygen absorbers are placed inside of sealed food containers to reduce the amount of oxygen and desiccants reduce the amount of moisture.

Pressure Cooker and Canning supplies

A  pressure cooker and canning supplies allow you to can foods at home similar to how manufactured canned goods are made.

For more information on home canning, check out this video

Vacuum Sealer

A vacuum sealer sucks out the majority of the air within a container, which drastically reduces the amount of oxygen in the container. Vacuum sealer bags are commonly used and if you get them in rolls you can cut the plastic into custom-sized bags.

For more information on using a vacuum sealer, check out this video.

Dehydrator

Dehydrators help to preserve food by driving out the majority of the moisture at low temperatures without actually cooking the food.

For more information on dehydrating foods, check out this video.

Freeze Drier

Although a home freeze dryer is quite expensive, the method of freeze-drying food is one of the best ways for getting the longest possible shelf life out of food.

For more information on using a freeze dryer, check out this video.

Five Gallon Buckets

Common five-gallon buckets can certainly be used to store food as long as the food is sealed in another container within the bucket. If you want to store food in a bucket without pre-bagging it, be sure to use food-grade buckets.

For more information on storing foods in five-gallon buckets, check out this video.

Totes

Plastic totes are great for organizing bags or cans of foodstuff and they provide a much-needed extra layer of physical protection. Since they come in a variety of different sizes, they make storing food in “odd” places, such as under furniture, easier.

Permanent Maker

A permanent marker, like a Sharpie, is a must-have for labeling food containers with important information.

Food Storage Tips

The main things you need to control with food storage are air, light, temperature, and moisture. These things make food go bad because they promote the growth of microorganisms. To reduce or eliminate that growth, food should be stored:

  • At room temperature or below. (Freezing temperatures can be used, but doing so depends on the type of food and containers being frozen.)
  • In airtight containers
  • In waterproof containers
  • In dark locations, preferably inside nontranslucent containers.

Additionally, you need to protect against pests, like rodents and wildlife. Sealed bags should be placed inside hard containers but keep in mind that plastic containers, such as five-gallon buckets, are not impenetrable to rodents or determined wildlife.

Once you get the food into a bag, canning jar, or other container, it’s a good idea to write the following information on the container:

  • Type of food, including brand
  • Weight or volume
  • Date the container was sealed and the food’s best-by date

Foods That Last For Decades

1. Alcohol

Alcohol used for drinking and cooking purposes generally comes in a glass container which is good for long-term storage. As long as the seal on the bottle isn’t broken it should be just fine placing the bottle on a shelf in a cool, dark, and dry location.

If the seal is broken, you could wrap a plastic/tape sealer around the cap or cover it in wax. To help protect the glass from breaking you may want to place it in a box container.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar    

Vinegar comes in either a plastic or glass container which is fine for storage purposes. Keep the apple cider vinegar sealed in its original container and store it in a cool, dark, and dry location.

3. Baking Soda  

Baking soda comes in a variety of containers but generally, the container is made from a cardboard material. If you want to keep the baking soda sealed in its original container, the box should be placed inside of a mylar bag or hard container and desiccant packs.

This will help to keep the baking soda box from breaking down. Otherwise, you can pour the baking soda into a mylar bag, add desiccant packs, and seal the bag up. Store the bag in a hard container and place it in a cool, dark, dry, location.

4. Bouillon Cubes

Bouillon cubes typically come individually wrapped and stored in either a plastic or glass container. The easiest way to store these is to keep them in their original container and vacuum seal them in a bag. Place the bag in a cool, dark, dry, location.

5. Cocoa

Depending on the type of container the coca comes in it may be able to be stored in its original packaging. If you are unsure, pour the powder into a mylar bag and seal the bag. Store the bag in a cool, dark, dry location.

6. Corn Starch  

Depending on the type of container the corn starch comes in, it may be able to be stored in its original packaging. If you are unsure, pour the cornstarch into a mylar bag and seal the bag. Oxygen absorbers are not required. Store the bag in a cool, dark, dry location.

7. Corn Syrup  

Corn syrup can be kept in its original plastic or glass container and stored in a cool, dark, dry location.

8. Dried Beans 

Dried beans can be stored in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, vacuumed sealed bags, or canning jars. Store in a cool, dark, dry location. Airtight containers of dried beans can be stored in freezing temperatures.

9. Dried Corn

Dried corn can be stored in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, vacuumed sealed bags, or canning jars. Store the sealed container in a cool, dark, and dry location. Dried corn can be ground into corn flour or reconstituted in water for cooking purposes.

10. Hardtack

Due to its low moisture content and relatively high salt content, pieces of century-old hardtack have been found and it was still considered edible. However, it’s best to store hardtack in mylar bags or canning jars with oxygen absorbers or vacuumed sealed bags. Store the container in a cool, dark, and dry location.

11. Honey

Honey can be kept in its original container as long as it is sealed off from moisture and air. Honey should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry location. Over time, honey will begin to crystalize and become hard. To get it back into its liquid form, simply warm it back up.

12. Instant Coffee

Instant coffee can be kept in its original container or poured into a mylar bag with oxygen absorbers and a desiccant packet. If the coffee isn’t too fine, it can be put in a vacuum sealed bag. Place the sealed container in a cool, dark, and dry location. 

13. Maple Syrup

Since maple syrup is liquid, it’s probably best to keep it in its original container but it could then be placed inside a vacuumed sealed bag or mylar bag for added protection. Place the sealed container in a cool, dark, and dry location.

14. Pasta

Pasta generally comes in a thin plastic bag or a cardboard-like container. Neither is really all that great for long-term storage. The cardboard box could be kept intact, but place it in a vacuum sealed bag or a mylar bag with oxygen absorbers.

Loose pasta can be put in mylar bags or vacuum-sealed bags but the sharp edges pose a risk of puncturing the material. Place the sealed pasta in a cool, dark, and dry location. 

15. Pemmican

Pemmican can be stored in any airtight and waterproof container. Mylar bags, canning jars, and vacuum sealed bags all work fine. Store the sealed bag in a cool, dark, and dry location.

16. Potato Flakes

Potato flakes can be stored in mylar bags or canning jars with oxygen absorbers and desiccants. Vacuum sealing is an option but care will have to be taken to avoid having the flakes pulled into the machine. Bulk amounts of potato flakes can be stored in five-gallon buckets. Place the sealed container in a cool, dark, and dry location. 

17. Ramen Noodles

Ramen noodles can be kept in their original packaging but those packages should be sealed in mylar bags or vacuumed sealed bags with oxygen absorbers. Or to save space, the noodles can be taken out of their original packaging and placed into mylar bags or vacuum-sealed bags with oxygen absorbers. Place the sealed container in a cold, dark, and dry location.

18. Rolled Oats

Rolled oats can be placed into mylar bags with oxygen absorbers or vacuum-sealed bags. Bulk amounts can be stored in five-gallon buckets. Place the sealed container in a cool, dark, and dry location.

19. Salt

Salt is best kept in mylar bags with desiccant packs, oxygen absorbers are not necessary. Salt can also be placed in vacuumed sealed bags, but take care not to suck any of it out. Place the sealed container in a cool, dark, dry location. Salt may clump up slightly in storage, if it does it’s okay. 

20. Soy Sauce

Most soy sauces come in a glass or plastic container. These containers are fine for storage but for further protection, they can be put into a larger hard container or tote. Soy sauce will stay good for a long time because it has such a high salt content.

21. Sugar

Sugar can be stored just like salt. Pour it into a mylar bag with a desiccant pack or into a vacuumed sealed bag. Oxygen absorbers are not required. Again, take care not to have any of the sugar sucked out of the bag if using a vacuum sealer. Store the sealed container in a cool, dark, and dry location.

22. Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract can be stored in its original container but to give it extra protection the container can be put into a hard container such as a bucket or tote. Store the sealed container in a cool, dark, and dry location.

23. White Rice

White rice should be taken out of its original container and poured into a mylar bag, canning jar, bucket, or vacuumed sealed bag with the appropriate amount of oxygen absorbers. Some people like to freeze rice first to kill off any potential pests before putting it into any long-term storage containers. Once in a sealed container, the rice should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry location or it can be stored in a freezer.

24. White Vinegar

Vinegar comes in either a plastic or glass container which is fine for storage purposes. Keep the vinegar sealed in its original container and store it in a cool, dark location.

25. Whole Wheat Grains

If the original packaging of grains is a paper-like material or cardboard, they should be removed and put into a mylar bag, vacuum sealed, or a food-grade bucket with the appropriate amount of oxygen absorbers. Store the sealed container in a cold, dark, and dry location.

Below are a few helpful links that show the amounts of oxygen absorbers and desiccants for food items.

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