Foods that will last for years

If the events of the past two years have taught us anything, it’s the need for a pantry well-stocked for an emergency.

The widespread staff shortages across Australian supermarkets and supply chains have resulted in empty shelves for consumers and wasted produce for farmers and manufacturers.

A hedge against lack of food at the supermarkets is to keep a pantry stocked with staples that can last a long time. Here are some items that when properly stored, can last for years.

Oats and rice
Cereals and grains in general will last around six months if stored in an airtight container. But two types in particular can last decades.

When stored in a sealed aluminium can, oats can remain virtually unchanged for up to 30 years. Rolled oats can be eaten raw as a cereal or made into a flour to make bread, biscuits or muffins.

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Another very long-lasting grain is white rice. White rice is milled raw rice that has had the outer hull, bran and germ removed. This process alters the flavour and nutritional value of the rice, but it also increases is shelf-life dramatically.

White rice kept in a sealed container and left in a cool, dry place can last up to 25 years.

Sugar and honey
Those with a sweet tooth will be happy to know that when stored in a covered container in a cool, dry place, sugar can last forever.

“Sugar, properly stored, has an indefinite shelf life because it does not support microbial growth,” says sugar producer Domino Sugar.

Honey also has the potential to last a very long time, although the use-by date on supermarket honey will be around two years. But Aussie honey manufacturer Capilano says when stored in an airtight container away from moisture, honey can last just about indefinitely.

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Powdered milk
Regular pasteurised milk can last up to 14 days if refrigerated below 4°C. But in its ultra-heat treated (UHT) and powdered form milk can be kept and used safely for around 10 years after the use-by date.

Non-fat powdered milk will last longer than whole milk or buttermilk because fat makes the mixture less stable. Keeping powdered milk in its original packaging is the most effective way to make it last years.

Milk transferred to another container from the original packaging should be used within three months.

Read: Foods that don’t mix with medicine

Canned food
Canned goods are a great way to add perishable foods to an emergency pantry. Canning food allows produce such as fruit, vegetables, meat or combinations of these to be stored safely for many years.

The canning process involves food sealed in aluminium containers along with a canning fluid such as water, brine or fruit juice.

The food and fluid are heat treated to kill any organisms in the food to produce a sterile, stable product that is then sealed inside the airtight can. The contents of the can will remain safe to eat until the seal is broken.

Do you keep any of these staples in your pantry? Have you found any other long-lasting items? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Written by Brad Lockyer

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