A large part of getting prepared is stocking your pantry with food. But if you have a large amount of food stored, it sometimes can get complicated keeping track what is going to expire when, and how best to rotate those items so nothing gets wasted. Fortunately, the food items listed in this article, will never go bad making their storage easier to deal with. Plus you don't have to worry about buying too much when a sale comes around.
Of course, proper storing is important as well, so unless stated otherwise, the best way to preserve any of these foods is to keep it in a cool dark place with as little temperature fluctuations possible. Lose of taste is normal when food is stored for long periods, but it doesn't mean that it is unsafe to eat.
You will also notice that many of these items are either very sugary, salty, or dry (having little moisture). Bacteria have a tough time growing in any of these conditions.
Foods That Never Expire
Keeping with the opening picture above, honey is first on the list. Honey has been found in ancient Egyptian tombs that was still edible thousands of years later.
It keeps indefinitely as it is mostly sugar with some antibacterial compounds thrown in. If the honey was pasteurized and is not raw, it may change color and become crystallized but it will stay safe to eat.
If your honey does become crystallized or harden, just place an open jar in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve.
Sugar will last indefinitely. This applies to any kind of sugar including white and brown.
The tendency with sugar however is that it will absorb moisture and start becoming a solid piece.
Ultimately it's not a problem that a few good wacks from a hammer cant handle. Just make sure to store it in an airtight container to keep the bugs and moisture out.
While the bag or container of rice might be a bit dusty, the rice inside is perfectly fine to eat, basically forever. There are many kinds of rice out on the market nowadays, but this applies to only white, wild, arborio, jasmine and basmati rice.
Brown rice has a higher oil content and will spoil over time. Make sure to store the rice in an airtight container to keep out any bugs which is the only reason that might come up to make it inedible.
Salt can never go bad because although we eat it, it technically is not even food, it is a rock mineral. All salts will never go bad including; table salt, kosher salt, and sea salt.
Like sugar, it will have a tendency to absorb moisture and become one solid form but it is still good to use no matter how hard it gets.
Salt is super important to have as not only can it be used to flavor some of that bland pasta that you have been storing, but it can also be used to preserve other foods, in medical applications to treat wounds, and even in soap-making.
Commonly used as a thickening agent for foods like gravy, cornstarch is usually used in small amounts that a box could, literally, last you a lifetime.
To keep cornstarch indefinitely, keep it dry, tightly sealed and in a cool place. And since you probably don't go through a tub of cornstarch that quickly.
If storing cornstarch just for use in gravy doesn't seem worth it, apparently you can use it in a paste to treat sunburns, athlete's foot, and as a dry shampoo for you (or your pet).
Another very important item to have on hand because of it's various uses, including medical. Hard liquors such as rum, and vodka won't expire. As long as it is kept in a cool dark place and that the cap is tightly screwed on, there's no need to hurry and finish that bottle.However, exposure to high heat, air or bright light can affect its quality and taste.
Distilled White Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar
I've put this separate than white vinegar only to highlight an issue. Basically all vinegars with a 'mother', will never go bad. They will actually improve with age. The mother is what makes the acidity that will kill off any harmful bacterial growth. This includes apple cider vinegar, which is super easy to make on your own and has many uses. If stored properly, this vinegar will not expire.
Soy sauce is extremely high in salt content which prevents bacteria from growing in it. It's another one of those foods that although it won't expire, it may not taste as good as when it was fresh. Better to store in a cool or cold place. There are not too many uses for soy sauce, but any flavoring helps.
Bouillon cubes are made from salt and broth from beef, chicken, turkey, fish or vegetables that have been strained and then dehydrated to concentrate the flavors. Dehydrated herbs and seasonings are also added. Because of the high salt content an since everything else has been dehydrated bouillon cubes can last indefinitely if stored properly.
This product is more sensitive to proper storage conditions as any exposure to air will cause them to absorb moisture and start the spoiling process. Seal cubes up tight, preferably in small vacuum packed bags and you should be good forever.
Pemmican is a ready-to-eat concentrated mixture of fat and protein. Invented by North American natives, it was used for travel food. Fat being the most important ingredient, it is full of calories. When fat and protein in meat are left alone, the meat will spoil, but when separated and processed separately, then remixed together, the final product of pemmican, won't spoil.
Food That Will Expire . . Eventually
There are a few foods that although technically won't go bad or expire, they will eventually lose their flavor and/or nutrient value over time. They will last for years, but do have an expiration date.
Some of these include:
A good rule of thumb for foods that last a very long time on their own are:
Very salty food, (think anchovies)
Very sugary food and,
Foods stored in vinegar, also known as pickled.
Of course proper storage is key. A cool, dark place that has little temperature fluctuation is the best location to make your food last longer. If you can vacuum seal food in smaller packages, that would be ideal.
There are many products that can be stored for almost indefinitely if vacuumed sealed in Mylar with oxygen absorbers. Stuff like instant coffee and powdered milk for example, can last twenty years with no problem.
Canned goods as well can last for years, especially if the can is prevented from rusting by limiting it's exposure to air, for example by coating the entire can with wax.
There are many tricks to make lots of food last longer, but the primary list above was mainly to highlight those foods that on their own don't expire without much special preparation. It takes some of the guesswork out of setting up your long term pantry since you won't have to worry about buying too much of those expiration proof foods.