Are there any foods that can last forever – or at least for years? Canned food is a no-brainer. Even though it doesn’t literally last forever, you can usually count on it for at least a couple of years. People have been known to eat food cans well after their best before, or even after the expiration date. Even though it’s definitely not advisable, it has happened quite a few times. While it isn’t exactly a mouthwatering sight, a 10-year old can of beans sounds a lot better than a roasted rat, don’t you think?
But today, we are not going to talk about canned foods. We already covered the emergency food supply that everybody should have in their pantry. But with most of those, the trouble is you have to keep track of their expiration dates and rotate regularly.
Every preparedness-minded person will also want to acquire some food staples that don’t require any babysitting because they simply can’t go bad. Or at least they can’t go bad enough to make you sick! That doesn’t mean they’ll preserve all of their nutritional value, though.
So if you have enough room in your pantry, these are the foods that might make a difference between life and death, if it ever comes to that.
Foods That Last Forever Wherever You Store Them
In a way, honey is the queen of all foods, which is why we decided to put it on the top of our list. This magic food has been around for at least 4,000 years, and possibly longer. It’s just that we didn’t have the means to write about it earlier.
The worst that can happen to it is crystallization. Which is not bad at all. Crystallized honey still has all the extraordinary nutritional benefits, in a more or less solidified form. If you prefer liquid honey, simply heat the jar a little by putting it in warm water, and there it is. Vice versa works too. The sweet-toothed preppers who like chewing on honey can crystallize it by putting it in the fridge.
Unfortunately, honey is the only food that doesn’t require any specific conditions. With the other ones, you’ll have to be a bit more careful. Also, keep in mind that they will only last long if kept in their sealed bags or boxes. Air, moisture and direct sunlight are their biggest enemies. So, once you buy and store them, don’t open unless you intend on gobbling them up soon!
Foods That Like It Dry (and Cool)
It’s nearly banished from the 21st century menu for a reason. Sure, it’s bad for your health. But in a disaster scenario, it may help save your life.
You can’t exactly live on sugar, but it can serve as a short-term energy boost if need be. And if you keep it in sealed bags in a dry place, it will literally live long enough for your grandkids to indulge their sweet tooth.
Salt is basically a compound of sodium and chloride. While sodium isn’t very healthy for people, bacteria and other nasty microorganisms absolutely hate it. That’s why salt is one of those rare foods that practically never go really bad.
And the reason why it’s good to have decent amounts of your regular table salt is its iodine content. If SHTF and our normal food supply chains get disrupted, we would have a very hard time finding foods rich in iodine. And its deficiency can cause serious developmental problems in children, and thyroid malfunctions in adults.
4. Corn Starch
Even though starch has been all but banished from modern cuisine due to its low nutritional value and high calorie count, it’s definitely a food that belongs in your survival pantry. First, it’s high on calories, which means you’ll always have a potential energy boost by your side.
Second, it’s extremely versatile – from serving as a sauce or soup thickener, to making glue or even dust bombs. Or you can use it for homemade corn syrup, which also happens to be one of our foods with extremely long shelf life. More on that later!
5. White Rice
Say hello to another of your survival friends. When stored in an air-tight container and left unopened, white rice can last for decades. And even after that, it will probably still remain edible.
And how happy a prepper must be to learn this! Rice is high in carbs, which translates to full belly. Plus, it’s cheap, so you can literally buy tons of it and save for the apocalypse.
Keep in mind that long-term storage only works with white rice. Its brown counterpart won’t last nearly as long.
6. Dried Corn, Beans & Lentils
Mom might not agree with this, but you can safely eat dried corn, beans and lentils even decades after you stored them safely. These food staples are extremely sensitive to moisture. A single drop of water is enough to spoil them within hours. But if you keep them in sealed containers, there’s absolutely no reason to worry.
And when I say corn, I mean popcorn too! In a post-apocalyptic world, we might have to learn to live without movies. But it will still do us good to evoke bits and pieces of our old lives every now and then. Why not do it with a big bag of popcorn?
7. Bouillon Cubes
Airtight and dry is the name of the game here. Since bouillon cubes are basically dehydrated meat stock, veggies, and a bit of fat. But in spite of their animal contents, they can still keep for years if you play by the rules.
8. Cocoa & Coffee
If sealed nice and tight, cocoa and instant coffee will remain good enough for decades.
In the worst case scenario, they will lose some of that irresistible smell and might taste a bit funny. But if TEOTWAWKI ever happens, I think I’ll be able to live with that.
9. Powdered Milk
If you take a look at manufacturer recommendations, dried or powdered milk will typically last “only” up to 24 months. But those are mostly just “best before” recommendations, and even if not, you can easily and safely disregard them. That is, of course, if you don’t open the package. Keep in mind that nonfat powdered milk will last even longer.
Foods That Like It Dark (and Cool)
This absolutely magical food is a staple of Asian and Indian gastronomy that most Westerners remain strangely unaware of. In essence, it’s a type of clarified butter that contains almost zero water and lactose. Even better, it tastes like heaven when compared to your regular butter from Target, and it has a much higher smoke point, which makes it that much more versatile in the kitchen. The almost 100% natural milk fat content means it’s loaded with healthy fatties.
When it’s made (or should I say homemade) right, it will practically never go bad. Even if you store it in a warm and light place, the worst that can happen is rancid, funky taste. Which won’t make you sick in the least.
To cast worries aside, store it in a cool, dry place.
11. Soy Sauce
You won’t exactly be able to make some soy sauce chicken with a 100-year old soy sauce. But if you store it right and unopened, it will definitely last for years. Feel free to eat it after the expiration date if your nose doesn’t disapprove. The reason why microorganisms aren’t very fond of soy sauce is that it’s very high on sodium.
12. Corn or Maple Syrup
Having only sugar and honey can be a bit boring, which is why we have these two syrups. The best news – none of them will go bad if you keep them closed and in a cool place!
Okay, you can’t eat alcohol, technically. But even though it’s a beverage, it’s still worth mentioning as something that can’t go bad all too easily. Whether it’s wine, whisky, vodka or your good-ol’ homemade moonshine, all it needs to sleep tightly is a dark place – for example, a cellar.
Beer lovers should beware though. Even though nothing really bad will happen if you have a pint a few months after the expiration date, your taste buds might be in for an unpleasant experience to say the least.
14. Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar has been in use as a disinfectant for aeons, and for a good reason. It can kill off many bacteria, which is precisely the reason it’s virtually imperishable if you seal it tightly. Even if it doesn’t taste as good or doesn’t look as clear after years of storage, it will still be perfectly safe to use.
Final Word – What Is the Only Food That Doesn’t Spoil?
Technically, the only food that will never ever spoil is honey. No matter how you store it, it will merely change forms from solid to liquid or something in between – and back again. It will tolerate heat, cold, it will live in dark or light places.
Of course, it will go bad if you mix it with other substances – water, for example. But as long as you keep it in a closed jar, you and your sweet tooth can patiently await the doomsday.