If you've ever worried about the true shelf life of food items in your survival stockpile, you are not alone. Although many products available today come with expiration dates printed directly on the packaging, how much can you really trust those dates? At some point you may have experienced some type of food item that went bad before it's prime or, on the other hand, risked it with something that had been on the shelf a little too long and lived to tell the tale. With these things in mind, it is natural to have a little bit of doubt in the longevity of an item, but the good news is there are foods you can safely stockpile pretty much forever as long as storage conditions are ideal.
Rice is a versatile food that you can plan on having around for a long time to come. As long as it is stored in a cool, dry area where pests cannot disturb it, rice can last indefinitely. There is a catch, however, in that it is only white rice (wild, jasmine, arborio, basmati) that this rule applies to. Brown rice, on the other hand, contains oils that will considerably limit its storage potential.
If you like a pinch of salt with dinner, the good news is that table salt and/or sea salt pack some serious longevity. Sodium chloride is naturally occurring and has been around for quite some time and will continue to be around for the long haul. Iodized salt, however, contains potassium iodide and does not have the same ability to last. Simply store it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and use it in cooking or food preservation for years and years to come.
A pancake with maple syrup is hard to resist, but the uses for maple syrup don't end there. Also delicious in many dishes, maple syrup is yet another food item that will stick around. Thanks to its natural resistance to mold and microbial growth, maple syrup is a good option for long term storage. It will last indefinitely unopened but freezing after opening is advised.
Also useful in cooking is sugar. All types of sugar (white, brown, powdered) will not spoil because they do not support mold or bacterial growth. Sugar will crystalize and become hard, however, so it is important to store it properly in order to avoid having to break it back down for use. Simply keep it in an airtight container with a good seal and your sugar will be around for ages.
It is safe to say that bees know what they're doing when it comes to the honey they create as it can stick around forever without spoiling. Keeping your honey in a container with a tight seal is useful to prevent messes and help with storage, but overall honey is pretty low maintenance. Over time you may notice some crystallization, but dipping the container in warm water and stirring the contents will break those crystals back down into their original form.
Dried beans are another food item that packs a long term punch. Although their taste may not be as great as when they are fresh, dried beans that are properly stored can easily last 30 years or more, providing a viable food option well into the future. Just be sure to store in airtight, pest-free containers in a cool, dry place as otherwise beans may actually sprout.
To go with some of your meals or just to calm your nerves, hard liquor comes in handy. Distilled liquors such as gin, vodka, rum, etc. will last indefinitely when stored in closed bottle in a location away from direct heat and sunlight. Over time the taste and aroma may fade, but it is so gradual that you probably won't even notice in your lifetime. Do note, however, that the same rules do not apply to cream liqueur which contains dairy and will spoil.
Since you won't be able to run to the store and pick up some salad dressing or marinade after TEOTWAWKI, having vinegar on hand is a good call. Whether you go with distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, both will last indefinitely. Just store your vinegars in a cool, dark place in a tightly lidded container and it will be there when you need it for years to come.
Although the items above are useful, it doesn't stop there. Plenty more items have a long shelf life and are important parts of the foods we eat daily. These include pure vanilla extract, soy sauce, corn starch, and powdered milk to name a few. Although alone you may not find them very useful, there are plenty of cooking purposes for which you just might want to have them around both now and in the very distant future.
What long lasting items do you have in your stockpile? How do you determine what you will or will not need for the long haul? Tell us in the comments!