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9 Non-Perishable Food You can Store for Emergency

Food while essential spoils really fast. Therefore, you should know what are the non-perishable food you can store and use for future consumption. Imagine, you just armed yourself to the teeth with all the gears you need. Brain-and-brawn, you know you’ve got what it takes to outlast anything. You know that it is not a matter of “will it happen” but a matter of “when will it happen”. As natural or man-made calamities approach, you stand firm and prepared. Then, to your horror, all the food you stored have all been spoilt and no longer eatable.

Stocking up food is not a problem. But, without the aid of your trusty freezer or fridge, how are you supposed to stash food that will last when an emergency happens? Sure, you can buy canned goods that will last months and even years, but what if, for some reason, a calamity or a man-made intervention caused a collapse in the society and supply chain? Surely, the power grid will follow and it will take a long time for your country to rise from the ashes.

Let’s face it. Having a stash of non-perishable food is not a bad call and is a lot cheaper than stashing short-lived foods and replenishing your stockpile every so often. Read on through the rest of the article to find out which foods last forever.

Is there a non-perishable food that can last forever?

Let me get straight to the point: NO FOOD LASTS FOREVER. Yes. Even the renowned and proven Pemmican will only last for decades, unless you stash it in outer space, sealed in vacuum, free from bacteria, protected from radiation and having an ideal temperature. Thankfully, foods that will last for decades are good enough to help you prepare for the worst.

Why Non-Perishable Food Don’t Last Forever

Even if a non-perishable food is left untouched, a variety of internal and external factors will cause it to rot, spoil or at least gradually degrade. Most of them revolve around microorganisms such as yeast and mold. Other factors accelerate chemical reactions within the food. Generally speaking, the following factors will cause the foods to degrade, spoil or rot:

  • Microorganisms
  • Light – causes photodegradation causing food constituents like pigments and fats to break down.
  • Temperature – too much heat encourage the growth of microorganisms. On the other hand, an extremely low temperature can cause cracks and cause bacterial growth when thawed.
  • Air and Oxygen – an abundance of oxygen is a necessity for the growth of microorganisms.
  • Moisture –microorganisms require water to break down substances they consume thus helping them grow. In addition, water is a necessary component for some chemical reactions that will cause the food to rot.
  • Enzymes – some enzymes present in the food can accelerate oxidation
decaying peach shows a non-perishable food can't last forever
Moisture accelerates the growth of mold and other microorganisms, hence causing food to go bad. Photo credit: Andrew Dunn,

If you are looking for food that lasts forever, it should be something that can resist the above factors. Unfortunately, no such food exists. But heads up! Some non-perishable food can last almost indefinitely as long as they are shielded from external factors like moisture and air. Without further ado, here is a list of such foods.

List of Non-Perishable Food for Emergency

1) Rice

rice can last forever
Rice is a staple food in many countries and is known for its longevity

Hailing as a staple non-perishable food for a long list of countries, the rice boasts not only nutrition and energy but also longevity. Most types of rice, excluding brown rice, will last indefinitely if stored properly. Brown rice has a higher amount of oil hence the shorter shelf life. If stored in a cool, dark and airtight container, the shelf life of rice will drastically increase.

During a crisis, rice will be one of the foods that will keep you going as it is relatively easy to prepare and provide both carbohydrates and energy. A cup of rice (186g) provides 206 calories which are decent enough, especially if you eat more than 1 cup in one seating.

2) Alcohol

beer bottle
Beer will do you nothing good when SHTF, but you can probably trade it with other survivors for something else.

While this is technically not a non-perishable food, alcoholic beverages have some many uses. Therefore, it’s in the list for its many applications. Truly, alcoholic beverages can last for a long time and even taste better as they age, but it is not a consistent fact.

  • Distilled spirits such as Vodka and rum can last indefinitely if stored in a cool, dark and dry place.
  • Liqueurs expire. Sugar-based ones can last for a couple of years and will have crystallized sugar settling at the bottom when nearing the end of their shelf life.
  • Most beer takes a long time to spoil but will taste bad when old enough. Vintage beers are designed for long-term storage and will likely last for some time.
  • Specific booze has their own shelf life. For instance, Tequila won’t last for a long time because its main ingredient, agave, will cause it to spoil especially after it is uncorked.

Keep in mind that no matter the length of an alcohol’s shelf life, it will begin to gradually degrade once uncorked. This decay is caused by the oxygen trapped inside.

Keeping a stash of alcohol to prepare for whatever calamity is honestly not a good idea, but the entry will stay in this list since some alcoholic beverage will last forever if stored in an ideal condition. Besides, during the time of a crisis, alcohol can become a luxurious resource which you can probably trade for actual food.

3) Honey

honey is a non-perishable food
Honey proves that not all sweetness die.

Here is yet another non-perishable food that can last indefinitely as long as the storage conditions are right. This sugary liquid we owe to hardworking honeybees can last for a very long time without spoiling and degrading. There’s a catch though. Most honey stored beyond their “best before” date (usually two years from production) will begin to crystallize, darken and taste in change and odor. Thankfully, these changes are not harmful unless the honey begins to ferment.

If you are going to stash honey, make sure that it is in a cool, dark place and the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) in order to avoid the growth of yeast. By avoiding the growth of yeasts, you avoid fermentation. In addition to these, storing honey in low temperatures avoid the breakdown of enzymes that give honey its longevity.

Be wary of the presence of froth because it is a likely sign of fermentation. You should also avoid opening the container of honey every so often because it invites the presence of oxygen inside. Needless to say, it can cause oxidation and therefore deterioration.

4) Sugar

sugar crystals
Sugar will crystallize if not stored properly

Here’s yet another entry to your list of non-perishable food that can last long. Sugar will last indefinitely as long as the conditions are right. Its shelf life is very long, even in poor conditions. By poor conditions, we mean storing sugar in a place or manner that it will have contact with water. Sugar can easily absorb water through a process called hygroscopy. In the process, sugar will cluster up and become rock-like. Thankfully, mold and microorganisms will not grow in sugar because of hygroscopy.

Store sugar in a cool and dry place but do not freeze it. In addition, you should not place it near other foods or other substances that give off odor because sugar can absorb these scents.

5) Salt

Salt, as a preservative itself, can last for a very long time.

Of course, what is a preservative if it can’t preserve itself? Salt, just like sugar, has the capability to osmose water through hygroscopy thus depriving any microorganism of water. Without water, it will be tough for microorganisms to survive. Most salt will neither expire nor degrade. However, some types of salt have impurities that can cause them to have a significantly shorter shelf life. A good example is an iodized salt which “only” has an average shelf life of 5 years.

The storage process of salt is similar to sugar. Because of its osmotic properties, you should store it in a cool and dry place that is far from sources of odor.

6) Pemmican

Pemmican will not last forever, but it can last for decades if prepared properly. Boasting a proven history of longevity, the Pemmican is still prepared today by preppers and non-preppers alike. It is a recipe that hails from the Native Americans and was adopted by European explorers. As you have probably guessed, the Pemmican proved its durability by being a reliable partner of the European explorers.

Traditionally, pemmicans are prepared from lean meat of large games such as deer. The pemmican owes its longevity to the presence of saturated fat which lasts for a much longer time compared to unsaturated fat. The preparation of pemmican also involves drying and rendering of meat which makes it devoid of water. As mentioned before, the absence of water makes it hard for microorganisms to survive.

7) Instant Coffee

instant coffee
Don’t let the name fool you. Instant coffee can last for a very long time.

Surely, coffee will help you stay sharp and awake during a crisis. As an added bonus, instant coffee can last for up to 20 years (indefinitely if frozen), thanks to how it is produced.
Instant coffee is produced through freeze-drying, a process which involves the removal of moisture through sublimation. Since instant coffee will be stored in an airtight package, it will have little to no contact with moisture thus discouraging the growth of microorganisms.

8) Vinegar

bottle of vinegar
The vinegar is useful for picking which will help your food supply last longer

Vinegar is yet another entry that can last indefinitely if stored properly. The presence of acetic acid in the vinegar makes it resistant to the growth of microorganisms. While it is not actually a “food” by itself, it is a good condiment to have. Furthermore, vinegar can be used for pickling fish, fruits, meat, and vegetables. Pickling foods will help them last for 2 years.

9) Dried Goods

dried fruits
Dried goods are drained of water contents, hence the slower rate of degradation.

Drying has been a very effective way of preservation. It has been practiced since 12,000 BC in various Asian and Middle East countries. Given the thousands of years of proven effectiveness, it is no wonder why drying is being practiced until today.

Through drying, the shelf life of foods can extend to 25 years and even indefinitely if refrigerated and vacuum sealed. Drying involves. . . well, drying goods. It can be achieved by a variety of methods such as smoking, air drying, and sun drying. By evaporating the water content of a food, you make it resistant to the growth of microorganisms hence immune to degradation. Take note, however, that dried goods should still be stored properly in a cool, dark place (noticed the pattern?) especially if the dried goods has no preservatives and not in an airtight container.
You can dry almost any type of food and it is a relatively easy way of preserving, so why not stash a few of them now?


We can never define the range of calamities and social collapses. Who knows when will a collapse disrupt the supply chain, and eventually paralyze the economy and even the power grid? Whether it is bound to happen or not, we can not simply assume and say no. Be wise and prepare. While the best way to prepare for a disaster is to not get caught in one, some calamities are inevitable and leave us with no choice but to face it, especially if it is a man-made one. Remember to always have a stash of non-perishable food around.

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Written by James Bana


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