Food Storage Reference

This site covers a great deal about how to safely store all kinds of food for an emergency. It’s also vital to know the specifics for many different types of food you may want to store. In particular, just how long will your stored provisions last?

Note: In these charts, the “cans” column refers to commercially purchased canned food, and “jars” refers to anything that has been canned at home in glass jars.

Any store-bought food should have an expiry date on it. Use that as a guide for storage length but not necessarily as a last-word. That means a date when it is better to eat before that point, not that it will immediately go “bad” the next day. Most foods are still edible and healthy to eat well after their marked expiry date.

These are just rough guidelines to help you plan for an emergency better. Many foods have been eaten well past their official shelf lives and been completely fine. Use your own judgment once you start passing these dates. Watch for foul smells, odd textures, mold or mildew growth or any bubbling in a liquid. Darkening is fairly normal and shouldn’t be considered a sign that the food has gone bad.

Staples

These are the foundation goods that make up most long-term food storage, providing you have some basic cooking skills. If you wouldn’t know what to do with flour or dry beans, then you should probably stick to commercial canned foods that are simpler to prepare and eat. You’ll also need to plan ahead for cooking fuel and/or water supplies to prepare foods from their raw ingredients.

Because these foods are mainly already in very dry form, you would usually store them in buckets, bags or large jars. Some of these items are not dry goods, so their best storage option is listed as well. This is how long you can expect these foods to last when they are properly packed under good conditions.


Stored dry in buckets/bags
Dry pasta 10+ years
Dry beans 10+ years
White rice 15+ years
Brown rice 5 years
Flour, all purpose 5 years
Baking soda 3 years
Baking powder 3 years
Cooking oil 1 year, stored in original bottle
Salt Forever
White sugar 6 years
Brown sugar 1 year
Cornmeal 3 years
Cornstarch 2 years
Bread 4 months, frozen
Baking yeast 2 years
Nutritional yeast2 years
Vegetable shortening 2 years on the shelf
Rolled oats 15+ years
Tofu5 months, frozen
TVP 15+ years
Nuts, roasted 1 year on shelf, 2 years frozen

Vegetables

Unlike the foods above, vegetables can be stored in various ways and each one will give you a different time limit for storage. Anything marked as n/a means that method for storage is not suitable for that food (or that it is not typically available as a commercially canned product)


Cans Jars Frozen Dried Root Cellar
Tomatoes 1 year 2 years 1 year 5 years 1 month
Carrots 2 years 2 years 1 year 5 years 6 months
Beets 2 years 2 years 1 year 5 years 6 months
Corn 2 years 2 years 1 year 5 years N/a
Green beans 2 years 2 years 1 year 5 years 1 month
Peas 2 years 2 years 1 year 5 years 1 month
Celery N/a 2 years 1 year 5 years 9 months
Cauliflower N/a 2 years 1 year 5 years 1 month
Broccoli N/a 2 years 1 year 5 years 3 weeks
Radishes N/a 2 years 1 year 5 years 3 months
Cabbage 2 years 2 years 1 year 5 years 9 months
Onions N/a 2 years 1 year 5 years 9 months
Pumpkin 2 years 2 years 1 year 5 years 9 months
Zucchini 2 years 2 years 1 year 5 years N/a
Garlic N/a N/a 1 year 3 years 6 months
Potatoes 2 years 2 years 1 year 5 years 6 months
Spinach 2 years 2 years 6 months 5 years N/a
Kohlrabi N/a 2 years 1 year 5 years 9 months
Mushrooms 1 year N/a 6 months 2 years N/a
Parsnips N/a 2 years 1 year 5 years 2 months
Sweet potato 2 years 2 years 1 year 5 years 9 months
Turnip N/a 2 years 1 year 5 years 9 months
Winter squash N/a 2 years 1 year 5 years 6 months

Fruits

Fruits can also be stored in several different ways, but n/a means that method is not a good idea for any particular fruit (or that it is not typically available as a commercially canned product)


Cans Jars Frozen Dried Root Cellar
Apples N/a 2 years 1 year 2 years 6 months
Bananas N/a N/a 1 year 2 years N/a
Strawberries N/a 2 years 5 months 2 years N/a
Raspberries N/a 2 years 5 months 2 years N/a
Blueberries N/a 2 years 5 months 2 years N/a
Cherries 3 years 2 years 1 year 2 years N/a
Plums N/a 2 years 1 year 2 years 3 weeks
Peaches 3 years 2 years 1 year 2 years 3 weeks
Pears 3 years 2 years 1 year 2 years 4 months
Grapes N/a N/a 1 year 2 years N/a
Pineapple 3 years 2 years 1 year 2 years N/a
Papaya 2 years 2 years 2 years 1 year N/a
Mango 3 years 2 years 1 year 2 years N/a
Oranges 3 years 2 years N/a N/a N/a
Cranberries 3 years 2 years 2 years 2 years N/a
Cantaloupe N/a 2 years 1 year 2 years 2 months
Apricots 3 years 2 years 1 year 2 years N/a
Fruit juice 2 years N/a 2 years N/a N/a

Extras and Condiments

This is really a mixed bag of items and comfort food that you might want to have on hand to help add some additional flavor and variety to your basic stored foods. These foods come in various packages, usually jars or bottles. Whatever the container, just store it unopened.


Cans/bottles/jars
Spaghetti sauce 1 year
Soy sauce 5 years
Mustard 2 years
Ketchup 1 year
BBQ Sauce 2 years
Spices, dry 2 years, stored in sealed containers
Vanilla extract (real) Forever
Chocolate, solid 2 years, in original bag
Chocolate,syrup 2 years
Hard candy Forever
Jam 2 years
Coffee, ground 2 years
Tea 2 years