Healthy Living

Non-Perishable Foods: 6 Survival Foods That Can Outlive You

Woman with cup of coffee in kitchen
Learn which foods in your pantry have an infinite shelf life — from instant coffee to dried pasta. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Most things we come into contact with have an expiration date, including ourselves. From our friends and family to much shorter life spans, like the meat we buy at the supermarket, we all reach a peak of freshness, and then begin to “decay” as the days go by. Although food can quickly spoil, there are items that we don’t need to restock every seven days because they don’t have an expiration date.

These “survival foods” need to be properly stored in order for them to have a never-ending shelf life. Non-perishable food items are best kept in a dark, cool, and dry spot that is free of humidity, moisture, direct sunlight, and extreme temperatures to increase their shelf life. Now, although these foods are susceptible to take a notable change in flavor and/or texture over time, they still remain edible and safe for consumption.

It’s time to stock up on these six survival foods that you can safely keep with you throughout your lifetime.

1. Instant Coffee

Coffee lovers can rejoice at the fact they won’t ever have to live without coffee. Since coffee does degrade over time, and degrades faster depending on the surface area, whole beans are more likely to keep longer than ground coffee, just like spices. Eatbydate.com suggests buying whole beans and then grinding them as needed for maximum freshness. These beans should be stored in a tightly closed container in the freezer and ground fresh for only the amount you plan to use that day. This will help keep out moisture and other contaminants.

When it comes to coffee, specifically instant coffee, it can be kept fresh for extended amounts of time. It’s important to keep the vacuum sealed and away from moisture and heat when freeze dried. This will give it a shelf life of years and years.

2. Hard Liquor

People say the phrase “aging like a fine wine” for a reason. The aging of wine is believed to improve the quality of the alcoholic beverage over an extended period of time. However, liquors like scotch, bourbon, and vodka have an infinite shelf life since they are so high in alcoholic content. According to Thekitchn.com, the key to keeping a spirit completely shelf stable is to keep the bottle upright, unlike the way you would store a bottle of wine. If the bottle has a cork stopper and the alcohol has a considerable amount of contact with it, it may eat away at the material.

3. Salt

Whether it’s table salt, kosher salt, or sea salt, they will all stay as fresh as the first day of purchase throughout the years. Salt is chemically stable, meaning it won’t degrade or become stale, which is why there’s probably no expiration date on the package. However, Morton Salt points out its “free-flowing, usable life can be limited by caking or lumping of salt crystals due to moisture.”

Although salt itself does not expire, added ingredients such as iodine may reduce its shelf life. The shelf life of Iodized salt is about five years. The best way to store salt is in its original airtight container in a cool, dark place, like the pantry.

4. Sugar

The sweet stuff is easy to keep fresh but challenging to keep it from turning rock hard. Since the texture can change over time, the best way to store sugar is in its original container in the pantry. However, if the bag is opened, it can be poured into another airtight container. Unlike white sugar, brown sugar can last even longer if it is stored in a humid and moist environment. Sugar has an infinite shelf life because it doesn’t support bacterial growth, says Utah State University.

5. Rice

Rice such as white, wild, Arborio, jasmine, and basmati rice has an infinite shelf life. Unfortunately, those that prefer brown rice will not be able to keep their rice package with them for life. Its higher oil content makes it turn bad faster, unlike white rice, which doesn’t have much moisture. It’s best to keep the rice in an airtight container in a cool and dry area to keep out any bugs. You can also freeze your dry rice while preserving its taste if you use an oxygen-free freezer safe container.

6. Dried Pasta

The shelf life of pasta depends on a variety of factors, including a best by date, the preparation method, and how it’s stored. Remember, fresh pasta that is either homemade or purchased in the refrigerator section usually includes eggs. Dried pasta has no water content and can be kept longer than the expiration date by storing it in its original packing in the pantry. You can also freeze the dried pasta for an indefinite type of storage, but it will begin to lose its taste over time.

Stock up on these six survival foods that will last you a lifetime.

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