Lessons Learned From a Decade of Food Storage, by Sandi

The pandemic lockdown of 2020 has led to a re-evaluation of my family’s food storage. This is  a food storage that began more than ten years ago. We began actively storing food in large quantities in 2009 and have continued intermittently since then. Where we have failed, however, is in not eating what we stored and not rotating our stock. Our experience with what lasted and what did not may be of some benefit to others as they consider what and how much of certain foods they should store. Overall, I have been pleasantly surprised at how long our food has lasted.

With the presidency of Barack Obama in 2009 and the uncertainty that it caused, my family decided to start preparing. We have a farming background and a self-sufficiency mindset, so preparing came somewhat naturally. For me, food security was of utmost importance. We invested in many mylar-sealed buckets of beans, wheat, oats, sugar, rice, and honey, as well as number 10 cans of dried milk, granola, brown sugar, baking soda, buttermilk powder, etc. We looked at those as long-term food preps, and for the most part, we did not open any of them until recently.

In 2009, we also ramped up our gardening and home canning. We sought out fruit trees that no one was harvesting, berry bushes and grapevines that no one cared about, and we canned the produce. In a two year span, we canned more than 1,000 quarts of fruits and vegetables. We also began canning meats; turkey, chicken, beef meatballs, and shredded pork all found their way into our jars.

My mother started making soups and canned many jars of those. In addition, we began storing bags of store-bought pasta, jars of JIF peanut butter, cans of tuna, jugs of oil, large cans of white Crisco, and many condiments, beverage powders, spices, and candies. All of the food was stored in a climate-controlled environment that stayed between 50 and 75 degrees. As the years went on, we continued to do some home canning but never as avidly as we did the first two or three years, although recent world events have reignited our zeal.

After Ten Years

Fast forward ten years. Most of this food had been stored at my parents’ home, and they lived several states away from me. As they aged, they stopped cooking from scratch so much, so the food preps languished on the shelves. Every time I visited, I would cook from the food storage and check on the stored items, disposing of any jars whose seals had failed or packages that bugs or mice had damaged. This past March, my children and I went to stay with them for several weeks during the initial lockdown. This gave us a chance to honestly assess our food storage. Here are some of our successes and failures.

Home-Canned Foods:

  • Canned fruits and pie fillings that were more than five years old did not fare well. The contents were still safe to eat, but they had degraded in quality, turning mushy. These became chicken food.
  • Canned spaghetti sauce, with and without meat, fared well. It looked, smelled, and tasted the same as it had on the day ten years earlier when we put it in the jar. We had several delicious spaghetti dinners using sauce that was a decade old.
  • Canned meat had also fared well. We are making pot pies and soups out of turkey that we canned in 2011. Stew beef that I canned in 2011 is also good. I am pleasantly surprised that none of the home-canned meat went rancid.
  • Squash, okra and other soft vegetables did not last more than 3-4 years. They became mushy and unpalatable.
  • Home-canned soup was good for the first 7-8 years, but many of the varieties my mother canned began to look like science experiments gone awry. They are still edible, but no one is interested because they look unappetizing. Several jars of those have been fed to the chickens.
  • Jams and jellies lasted for 5+ years. Unfortunately, we made many more than were consumed and several jars turned dark and watery. Those were discarded.
  • Pickles lasted two years before becoming mushy and being discarded.

Store-Bought Foods:

  • Most of our pasta has lasted 10+ years. We are eating lasagna, penne, spaghetti, angel hair, and rigatoni that are a decade old. None of it was stored in a special way; it is all still in its original packaging. The exception to pasta longevity has been egg noodles. Around year 7 or 8, the egg noodles began to crumble and disintegrate.
  • JIF peanut butter has lasted 10+ years. Considering its fat content, I expected it to become rancid, but that has not been the case. Some of the oil has risen to the top, but once stirred back in, the peanut butter is the same as the day we bought it.
  • White rice has lasted 10+ years.
  • Beverage powders have absorbed moisture, making them difficult to use. They have to be chiseled out of the container with a knife, but they are still drinkable.
  • Salt had to be repackaged around year 7; the paper packaging started to absorb moisture. We poured all of the salt into quart jars.
  • Liquid oil has only lasted 2 years at best before going rancid.
  • White Crisco has performed well; we are using large cans of Crisco that are 10+ years old. They are not rancid and have not degraded in quality. This was a very pleasant surprise.
  • Store-bought cans of fruit, such as mandarin oranges and pineapples, began to rust through around year 6, and many had to be thrown away.
  • Bricks of yeast, which were stored in the freezer, lasted 9+ years. During the lockdown I pulled one of these bricks out of the freezer, dubious as to whether it would work, but when I sprinkled the yeast in lukewarm water, it bloomed as if it were fresh from the store.
  • White flour stored in plastic buckets has not lasted more than two years before becoming rancid.
  • Chocolate chips stored more than a few years have become chalky and crumbly.
  • Spices and spice blends in plastic containers have absorbed moisture and become a solid brick. They are still usable, although it takes some effort to chisel them out.
  • Candy: In 2009-10 we stored some hard candies, thinking that they would last the longest and provide a nice treat in any TEOTWAWKI situation. My mother also stored several large bags of her favorite candy, Hot Tamales. During the lockdown, late one night, my mother wanted Hot Tamales but thought she had eaten them all. My girls went to storage and brought back Jolly Ranchers. They were inedible; they had softened and stuck to their wrappers and had to be discarded. The same was the case with a bag of Dum-Dum suckers and a bag of peppermints. On one last trip to storage, my girls found a bag of Hot Tamales that my mother had missed. They were in perfect condition! In that moment, those Hot Tamales felt like a gift from God, and we all laughed thinking that He had hidden them from my mother until just the moment when they were needed for a pick-me-up. For food storage, it showed me the importance of having special treats, and we will be buying more.

Dehydrated Foods:

We purchased a dehydrator and filled many canning jars with produce.

  • Home-Dried bananas, figs, and apples have lasted 7+ years.
  • Raisins crystallized somewhat but are still edible; when using in baking, I rehydrate them in some warm water first.
  • Fruit leathers have lasted 8+ years.
  • Home-dried vegetables, such as carrots, celery, and onions, lasted for several years.

Dry-Canned Foods (heated in the oven with oxygen absorbers):

  • Crackers such as saltines and Ritz have lasted 3+ years.
  • Oatmeal and Cheerios have lasted 5+ years.
  • Dried soup mixes have lasted 5+ years.

Number 10 Cans and Cans of Foods from Online Survival Stores:

  • Brown sugar, which I had heard would only last 2-3 years, has lasted for 10+. I am currently using it in my baking.
  • Granola that is 8+ years old is still delicious.
  • Non-fat dry milk powder, which I also did not expect to last, is in perfect condition.
  • Large cans of tomatoes began to rust around year 7. We made spaghetti sauce and salsa out of them and re-canned them in quart and pint jars.
  • Small cans of Bega cheese did not last long. Their texture and flavor were off by year 6.
  • Cans of candy, pretzels, and other treats did not last long term. The lost-and-then-found bag of Hot Tamales did much better than these sealed treats.

Mylar-Lined, Sealed Buckets:

  • Rolled oats started going rancid after 7-8 years. They were fed to the cows.
  • White sugar solidified into a giant sugar cube, but it is fine once it is chiseled loose.
  • Wheat, as expected, has lasted well.
  • White rice has lasted.
  • Honey has crystallized and partially solidified, but it is perfectly edible once gently heated.

It has been somewhat sad and a bit disheartening to have to dispose of so many jars of fruits and other home-canned and store-bought goods; it seems like many hours of work and hard-earned dollars wasted. On the other hand, we are pleased with how well most of the food we stored has lasted. In hindsight, we could have extended the shelf-life of many things by repackaging them in canning jars rather than leaving them in their original packaging.

When we started this preparedness journey more than a decade ago, we looked at all of the food storage, especially the long-term foods, as insurance. It was something that we never wanted to need, but we wanted to have it just in case. Despite some failures and some wasted money, I feel the same about it today. Having a deep larder brings us peace of mind. I never want to have to look at my starving children and tell them that I have nothing to give them.

Going through the recent lockdown has reinforced for me why we started to prepare in the first place, and suddenly friends and family members who thought I was a little (or a lot) crazy in 2009 don’t think so now. While people around the country were scrambling to find meat, toilet paper, yeast, flour, and other scarce goods during the lockdown and panicking when they couldn’t get the necessities, my family had everything we needed, and we were never worried. And that, my friends, is priceless.


  1. Dear Sandi—Thank you for an incredibly helpful and knowledgeable article!
    I am taking stock now of my accumulated goods. Looking forward to more
    articles from you.

  2. Your sealed plastic buckets would have done better if u had used oxygen absorbers. Based on your description of the quality of some of your food items it sounds as if some of the store bought items (chocolate chips, spices, pasta, candy) may have done better if they had been repackaged and vacuum sealed. Most of your damaged food appears to have absorbed moisture or air so if you used storage methods that removed those things I believe your food storage would have lasted longer.

  3. Excellent compilation , very useful thanks. One of our staples is cans of refried beans which seem to last for years. Just had some that expired in 2015 that showed no degrading. Anyone know about Red feather brand canned butter and their cheese?

    1. Interesting that you asked about Red Feather… Believe this is the company from which we purchased a delicious blue cornbread mix some years ago! Will be interested to learn more about the canned butter and cheese.

    2. I just opened a can of red feather butter and bega cheese that were purchased in 2010. They were both still good. I will be checking more of our food supplies this week. Good article.

    3. Tried a can of Red Feather butter (first time trying it) that was 8 years old and it was perfect. I bought a few more cans (this was just before the ‘rona and still easy to find)

    4. We ordered several cases of red feather butter after jwr recommended it on this site. Every few months we open a can. It is amazingly good. Truly the best butter we have ever had and thus far–four years on–it is on perfect shape when we open a new can.

  4. This was a very useful article about longevity of foods, I wish there were more like it. Thanks. In return, I offer to you, please use the Crisco only as emergency candles. That stuff is very bad for people. There are many good sources online who point out why, here is the title of one of the best. I hope you look it up and read through it.

    Enjoy Saturated Fats, They’re Good for You!
    By Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD

    “In 1909, shortening was a natural product made with coconut oil and lard.”

      1. Vegetable oils on the whole are really, really bad in the long term. That being said, the effects of inadequate fat consumption are bad too – so it’s still worth storing if it’s one of the fats that will last the longest, for those of us without the means to freeze oil long term.

        1. One big caveat with all oils is that they are easily disturbed heat. Heating up fat changes it. Partly why deep-frying, along with the high-glycemic carbs used in breading, is so bad.

          Fats are not only good for you if used correctly but are *essential*. Why do you think EFAs are called essential?

        2. “Vegetable oils on the whole are really, really bad in the long term.”

          That is a popular belief but likely unprovable. Remember eggs, milk and butter were bad for you too. Wait, now they’re good for you. Same with coffee and so many other things that the food faddists didn’t like.

    1. You are EXACTLY right! Crisco is a product, not food and is offers zero nutrition or benefit!
      Unrefined, preferably organic Coconut oil is #1 – for health, cooking, skin care, hair care, and the anti’s > antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. Its also anti-aging and reduces hair loss….and its a powerful antioxidant.
      Coconut oil is full of medium chain fatty acids (which aid in weight loss) and helps clear arterial blockages (wow!)
      Much of this is from organicfacts.net but there is much more to know and love about CO. I’ve been using it since reading a recommend by Dr. Mercola and its been wonderful. My hair is now growing back in, in its original color (not gray!) and no one believes I’m 66 due to the outstanding condition of my facial skin.
      So, hope that offers a bit more to consider, in the ‘oil’ department.
      And if you have crisco in the house, do your self a huge favor > throw it OUT.

  5. I don’t know if you selected the photo that illustrates the article, but where did those can organizers come from? All I can find are horribly overpriced wire racks on Amazon.

  6. Great information. I am curious, what was your food storage area like? Was it a steady temperature or did it fluctuate? Any moisture problems? Thanks for sharing!

  7. Would love more info on commercial dehydrated survival food (the stuff advertised to last 25 year’s), as I am considering making a substantial purchase soon.

    1. From the article, it looks like you didn’t purchase dehydrated food storage. Or did I miss something? Anyone else able to weigh in on how well those items have lasted?

    2. Has anyone done taste tests on different foods? I.e. who has the best tasting eggs? Who makes the best stroganoff?

    3. Which has worked better for people: buying individual ingredients, or buying entrees?

    4. I’ve noticed that at least half the products available are vegetarian. I’m not. Would it be worth it to buy those entrees and add meat from a different supplier?

    5. Has anyone done nutritional studies on entrees? I’m happy to see more suppliers comparing calories rather than servings. But what about sodium? Sugar? Fiber?

    6. Some suppliers are still including drink mixes in their 1 year storage kits. Seems like filler to me. Any way to get around this without having to pay the individual can price instead?

    1. Nurse kim, while I can’t answer your questions with any expert knowledge, I can add this as my 2 cents worth:

      I would NOT wait on purchasing the dehydrated food (especially if you have found a supplier that has it in stock) I’ve tried 2 different places – one large order was actually cancelled by the company as they “couldn’t ship it” due to issues with their vendors and the other company started out with an “ETA in late June” then “ETA end of July” then ETA “possibly end of September”. 🙁

      I have used powdered milk (more than 10 years old) and powdered whole eggs (also more than 10 years old) with no discernible off-taste. One word of caution regarding the eggs, once you open the can (mine were #10), they will last for a couple of months in the fridge but after that, the taste and look (begins to get really dark yellow) tends to degrade.

      I’ve also noticed the “in stock” items are mainly vegetarian. That being said, I would say “yes” to your question #4.

    2. Nurse Kim I have eaten some of the freeze dried and/or dehydrated camping meals that you find at the big box store that were 11 years old. The Beef Stroganoff tasted just like the brand new packs I had eaten. I have also eaten 15 year old banana chips from one of the bigger long term storage companies…they had opened up older stock as part of their display at a prepper convention. They tasted amazing!

      The only long term food storage item that I have ever had issues with was a number 10 can of powdered tomato. It was hard as a brick, wouldn’t reconstitute when I scraped some loose.

      I just purchased some from a company located in Salt Lake City. They had a large selection available for immediate shipment, and the backpacking kit I ordered was delayed by 3 weeks-but they kept me in the loop the entire time. The food tastes great, the price is reasonable (for my budget) and I know that it will be there when I need it.

    3. Nurse Kim, regarding what to store, complete meals or ingredients. I store some of both, with an emphasis on ingredients. Mountain house makes the best tasting meals, by far. Wise meals always seem slimy to me, with too much xanthan gum used as a thickener. I have also tried MREs. Most have a funky texture and not enough salt, except for the tortellini, which seems to be where all the salt went. My decision on what to store is mainly based on what events might cause me to tap those supplies and how long I would need to rely on them before returning to our more usual routine.

      The best eggs I found are Ova Easy. They are nearly indistinguishable from fresh, even for scrambled. Expensive but well worth it when compared to regular powdered eggs, which tend to be rubbery when made up as scrambled.

      As far as storing meat, the stated shelf life even for freeze dried is only a few years. My plan is to use home canned meats that I can rotate out, as needed. I have some freeze dried meat, some tvp meat substitute that keeps longer. But most of my meat plan involves canning meat as a regular practice.

      Hope this helps.

  8. Sandi, Thanks for a great article. I have been canning and storing foods for about six years. I haven’t been great about rotating my foods either. Covid has given us the opportunity to really look at our food supplies, to see what is working and what needs to change. I have canned lots this summer but have also discarded lots too. Some of the dehydrated foods were ugh! My freeze dryer has been running 24/7 to replace these while I am able to get fresh produce from various sources. Several of you have mentioned purchasing freeze dryers, and I encourage you to watch videos of Betty’s Freeze dryer group as well as Retired at 40. I believe they have Facebook groups also, but as I don’t do Facebook, I can’t really comment other than I would imagine they are very informative. Freeze dryers have a large learning curve, and I have done a major repair on mine this summer. I also would like to bring attention to another video that I watched recently done by Engineer 775 called Survival Seed Fail.The worst Garden Ever. I am not calling attention to these things for those of you that rotate your stocks, save your seeds, etc., but for those of us that tend to put things away and hope that years from now if we need them they will be good to go. I don’t have land right now for a garden, but I have to wonder if the seeds in my freezer from a seed survival company are viable. I am very thankful for a community of people where we can all learn from each other. Your list is most helpful, and some of the things in my food storage gone bad, matches what you have found in yours.

    1. @ SewNurse

      Re: seed viability. It’s not just seed you save yourself or so-called “Survival Seeds” that can be problematic but also seeds from seed companies that are sometimes not all that great. I(and others) have experienced one particular seed company that has been selling seeds that have poor(or no) germination or where the seeds are not what the package says they are. I’ve experienced both of these things this summer a number of times with this company’s seeds. So now that I know this seed company is having these problems I’m doing germination tests in advance of planting their seeds which will alleviate the perm germination issue; I’ll know not to plant them or to plant them a lot heavier in density if the test germination is low. The mislabeled seed is a different problem as sometimes it’s not too apparent until the seedling is large enough. Not sure how to handle seed in packages that you want to keep intact and frozen although maybe you can open those you are worried about, remove 10 seeds from each to test and then carefully reseal them right away?

      1. A shame you (obviously) can’t give the name of that seed company. I’ve bought several types of seeds over the last few years and some weren’t worth the paper packets they’re packed in.

      2. I have also had bad experiences with seeds from a couple of the big seed companies, both when growing in large greenhouses for commercial sale, and when planting for my own garden. I had trouble with seeds not germinating or germinating poorly, and also with seeds not being what they were supposed to be.Two companies that I have had good luck with are Ohio Heirloom Seed, and Wyatt-Quarles. Ohio Heirloom Seed is a small family owned business and I have had nothing but top notch service and quality from them, at very fair prices.

    2. Hey sewNurse, I wrote a research paper several decades ago on seed longevity. The general rule of thumb is the smaller the seed, the shorter the life span. So small seeds like onions, oregano, lettuce, and basil, will have shorter life spans than things like corn and cucurbits, and legumes have very long life spans. I save all my own seed and always label the envelope “For 2021” so I know how old the seeds are. I always plant the freshest and keep the older ones for backups or if the SHTF, I have some to give to neighbors. You mentioned you don’t have room for a garden right now but by planting one or two plants in a single pot, and having one pot for each species, you can raise enough seeds for many types of crops to rotate what’s in your freezer. One basil plant for example will yield enough seeds for all the basil you could use in one year. Ditto for oregano and most of the other mint-family crops which tend to have short seed life spans. One tomato (eggplant, pepper, etc.) plant in pot will yield an amazing amount of seeds as you would guess, but be sure you are using heritage varieties. Another reason to rotate is that while you might still get a good germination rate, the plants may have decreased vigor leading to a decrease in successful plants in the garden and lowered yields.

    3. I try to look for the silver lining in storm clouds that have passed. One thing we learned was that the #10 cans of survival seeds only gave us only false hope, no plants.

      In lockdown this spring we decided to open 2 cans and get seeds started in February. Several flats were started and only a few seeds germinated per row, less than 10% viability. So in April, at height of covid lockdown we went out to look for seeds to start and could not find all the types we wanted. Even into early June what seeds we could find we’re selling at full price, not deeply discounted as usual.

      So what to do? I think the only way to prepare for a long term reliable source of food is to constantly use heirloom seeds and practice saving your seeds now.
      Checkout Seed Savers in Decorah, Iowa.

      1. @ Junior J

        That’s a bummer for sure and it could have had even worse ramifications if your survival had depended on those seeds. My approach is to buy seeds from seed companies that have been reliable, especially the ones which do germination tests and provide that info to you on the seed packet such as FEDCO. I also like Johnny’s a lot; way back over 2 decades ago they definitely had their share of “oopses” but I think they learned a lot from that and improved their reliability so I trust them now as well. I buy more seed than what I need for that growing season(except for a few such as onion) and try to store it properly. I’ll rotate the leftover packets into the next year’s garden. And yes, practice your seed saving so you are good at it.

    4. A couple of other freeze dry video series for those that are interested:

      Epi Center Brian does a variety of foods in his Harvest Right Freeze Dryer
      BallisticBBQ also does some great drying videos with beef and other items

  9. I started in the fire service in 1985. As a rookie you are traveled out a lot to different stations. We had 12 stations in our city and I worked them all. At each station sitting on the kitchen table was an open 10 lb. can of Civil Defense hard candy. I remember butterscotch drops and the like. All hard candy. This stuff had been stored in the station basements since the 50’s. It was still good.

    1. Roadkill,
      I also have two huge tins of civil defense hard candy obtained from my deceased mother-in-law’s basement. The candy is fine. During the Carter years when the public fallout shelters were emptied of all the hard-tack biscuits, they were analyzed and found to be still quite nutritional. The supplies were about 28 years old on average. The biscuits were formulated to cause constipation in the people consuming them to reduce the traffic to the chemical toilets…..essentially emptied ten gallon water containers fitted with a toilet seat.
      American civil defense was a tragic joke, unlike the dedicated, hardened shelters built in Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Russia, China, Yugoslavia, Israel, South Korea and others. I’ve toured several dozen Swiss shelters, all cleverly built near or into public and private buildings and in parks, parking garages, highway tunnels, etc. There are hardened hospital shelters for every 28,000 citizens, as required by Federal law. 202 beds in each one. The pharmaceuticals are rotated annually, as is the diesel fuel for their generators. I’ve toured a public shelter under a school field house during a war exercise and was warmly welcomed into the command center of the shelter to observe the drill. It was a total accident that we found this in progress, but as we stood looking at the concrete blast doors (while children played on the grounds), a 16 year old boy asked us in perfect English (take note, American teachers) if we would like to tour the facility. He had us wait outside and disappeared into the air lock and came out with the local civil defense commander. He also spoke perfect English. He gave us a grand tour of the huge shelter, perhaps accommodating 1500 souls, complete with kitchens equipped with steam tables, showers, flush toilets, nice dorms with bunks stacked three high. Each having a regulation pillow exactly in its place. Mechanical room with diesel generator and ventilation systems equipped with huge NBC filters as tall as I was. Dining area doubled as a game room.
      I’d love to mass produce our home shot video of these tours and make them available. America could have this level of protection too, but our leaders have used our tax dollars to buy votes with welfare programs.
      I didn’t see a rusty or dented car. A weed. Litter. Graffiti. Or police, except in a police station and at the airport. The airport officers carried submachine guns. The village police were mostly unarmed…they have little violent crime there. Their “interceptors” were 4 cylinder SUVs. Everyone was extremely polite……but many own machine guns. The national sport there is shooting. So play NICE.
      My experience with stored foods in my NBC shelters (I own more than one) is very much like the author’s’.

      1. >American civil defense was a tragic joke

        and still is.

        That’s because the USA government doesn’t care about its citizens. Except as guinea pigs or test subjects to their corporate masters, perhaps. Or fodder for the military-industrial complex.

        The only reliable authority is God. Constant theme in JWR’s fiction.

        1. To be historically accurate, the US Government, in 1949, began studies at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and at the Nevada Test Site, to develop robust defenses against the effects of nuclear weapons. A great body of knowledge was gathered from the blast testing of many different formats of shelters using nuclear explosives. Shelters were built in clusters at various distances from the shot towers and were heavily instrumented with cameras, accelerometers, air pressure sensors, radiation sensors and recorders. Engineers studied where, exactly the shelters would fail and where they would survive.
          The data was archived at Oak Ridge under the supervision of Dr. Conrad Chester in what was known as the Emergency Technology Library. Upon the death of Dr. Chester, Oak Ridge intended to scrap the library. Texas A&M rescued the library and it is now safely archived there.
          JFK was in Dallas for several reasons, one of which was to unveil the new national shelter program that would have built millions of hardened shelter spaces throughout the country in what would have been a population protection effort. It was patterned after the Swiss program.
          Oswald’s bullets killed more than just the president, for the new CD program died with him. LBJ scrapped the shelter program and escalated the war in Vietnam.
          Engineers at Oak Ridge shifted their research from permanent shelters to expedient shelters….procedures Americans could use if they have sufficient warning (Ha!) and could assemble the simple materials to drive out of town and dig a deep trench, cut down trees, mound earth over the “roof”, etc. Civil defense was a shoe string and bailing wire affair ever since JFK. Reagan tried to revive it but was savaged in the halls of Congress and never tried again.
          And so, you are right….the lives of Americans are expendable and the main thrust of politicians is the gaining and holding of power. A few aware citizens have taken the time and expense to build effective shelters and stock them deep with essential supplies.
          Americans remain EASY to kill, simply by turning off their power for a while.
          Russia and China, countries who suffered terribly during WWII, know the extreme value of good civil defense because it is PEOPLE who build tanks, rifles, ammunition, boots, etc.

      2. American politicians are too selfish, ignorant, arrogant and enslaved by satan to do something good for the general public. They make millions of $$ while in office by cheating and getting kickbacks from lobbyists, then they go buy a $3 million bunker some where. I hope their bunkers collapse while they are inside.

        1. Animal House,
          Well…actually, they don’t buy shelters. They use your tax dollars to have them built for them, and pay the armed guards to make sure no unauthorized deplorable get inside. I’ve been inside one of those, too, which is Cheyenne Mountain. Spent a whole day in there. We wore large orange badges over our hearts to the kids with M16s could have a brilliant sight reference. We were told not to joke about damaging the facility.
          I’ve been inside what are called “EOC”s, which are poorly designed but expensive shelters outfitted with million dollar satellite communication rooms. Emergency Operations Centers, they call them. During the open house at a $5 million EOC in Utah, a woman with two small children said, “Wow! This is GREAT! So, if there were a nuclear attack, we could come here!” The county official nearly swallowed his tongue. “Oh! OH NO ma’am! Don’t come HERE! This is for government officials ONLY!” Another man spoke up and asked, “So what is it that you, in here, are going to do for us….out there?”
          The official said, “Well, we hope that you all would just SHARE.”
          So, rather than get angry about the injustices of this world, one can just get busy and get your own preparations in order. Don’t worry, not even Cheyenne Mountain has more than 30 days of food inside. And, the exact location of the facility is quite well known by our real enemies so I wouldn’t want to be inside the Mountain when things go in the toilet.
          i have not toured Raven Rock or Mount Weather, but these are very secret facilities that are just not talked about.
          While you were watching all the excitement on your TVs on the morning of 9/11, the family members of the president were being whisked away to hardened facilities, as the US Government originally believed the attacks were a diversion for a nuclear strike. You were not told any of this. It wasn’t until Vladimir Putin called Bush and told him “Hey, that wasn’t US! Don’t shoot US!” and ordered all Russian nuclear forces to stand down and their mobile ICBMs (Topel-M, SS-27) returned to their garrison garages. Russia became quite alarmed about our subs in port moving out to sea, and flash traffic surging in our C3I nets. Vlad made the right call.
          If any of this interests the reader, they can search “The Black Brant Norwegian Rocket Incident” where a research rocket fired from Norway alerted Russian radar operators that the US might have just initiated an EMP strike from an Ohio class submarine off their coast. The Russian General Staff had activated their version of the Football, and presented it to a wobbly Boris Yeltsin for his consent to launch an immediate and massive counterstrike on the United States. Borris, said “Nyet!” By then, radar operators said the rocket was heading out to sea and was not a threat. But we owe Borris our thanks for having a cool head and not letting the Russian General Staff kill us. 60 Minutes did a segment on it called Zero Alert. But you can read the Wiki on it which is close enough.
          It won’t matter how much you hate the system and everyone it it. It only matters if you can deal with a small world with unspeakable peril only minutes away.

          1. Wow. That’s pretty wild. It does show though that it’s not possible to prep for just one type of event or to figure that we can “time” what happens so that we have adequate time to GOOD or make it to a retreat location. At any time, out of the blue, most anything can happen.

  10. Thank you for taking the time to write this article. What storage survived and what didn’t is very important for us all. We all have to throw out a few things but overall, it is better to have it and not need it than it is to need it and not have it.

    I have left spices in their containers but I vac seal the containers and store them in clear storage containers with a bag of silicon crystals (to absorb moister); this seems to work so far (5/6 years). But I recently started putting salt in regular mouth jars. I usually put my dried items and freeze dried items in mylar bags or vac seal bags but my home grown herbs and spices I put in glass jars that formerly held sauces or other purchased items, along with an O2 absorber (if needed). Rice, sugar, oats etc go into a mylar bag with bay leaves (old family tradition) and an O2 absorber (not needed for sugar) and then put in a gamma lid bucket. Recently, I’ve been saving my jars for meat or other important food items; as jars are hard to come by now.

  11. Great Article!

    I discovered the same thing with hard candies and cough drops. They melted and stuck together, even in vacuum seal packages, kept in pantry. I had to redo my BOB and first aid kit supplies after a couple of years.
    Homestead Heart on YouTube canned jolly ranchers. I’m going to do this and see how long it lasts. I’ll try various types of candy and chocolate in canning jars with absorbers.

    1. I have stored the Crystal Light hard candies for years! I don’t even know if they’re made any more. I’m wondering if because they are sugar-free they last? Sugar tends to melt. I’ve kept them in an airtight canister at room temp. Maybe some sugar-free hard candies can be incorporated? They still taste great.

    2. Sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air. Hard candies, cough drops, and the like should keep almost forever IF they are vacuum sealed in airtight containers. The containers should be relative small, so that once opened they can be used up in a short period of time without have to pig out.

  12. Thank you for taking the time to organize this article. This has helped me to know where I should start using the stored food, some of which I have left in storage.

    Some things I have noticed about my own long term storage:

    canned grapes don’t last much past 3 yr.

    home-canned bacon has lasted 5 yr and still good.

    home-canned chicken has lasted 5 yrs and still good.

    home-canned brownies last about 18 months

    home-canned tapioca lasts about 18 months

    home-canned mandarine oranges last about 3 yrs

    home-canned sweet corn loses color and darkens after 5 yrs

    home-canned pork loin really dries out after about 4 yrs. best in soups.

    home-canned chicken/beef broth good after 5 yrs

    4 yr old store-bought tuna, salmon, can beans, ham, and my fav chicken & dumplings still good.

    Prep your souls too

  13. We have begun to use our 2 yr old Red Feather canned butter. It is fine.

    We also just replaced the case we bought two yr ago with another case at the high price of $177.00 !! This price being the lowest I could find.

  14. I have a question maybe someone here can answer on nutrient value. Years ago I read a study conducted by a university on the nutrient value of canned vegetables vs fresh vegetables. The conclusion was that there was very little loss of nutrients in canned vs fresh. The catch though was a lot of the nutrients in canned vegetables are in the liquid. Ever since then I have drained the liquid and used it to boil rice thereby absorbing the liquid and hopefully retaining the nutrients. Maybe a waste of time but conserves water and can’t hurt.

    1. RG

      That’s a great idea to use the liquid from canned vegetables! I make rice in my Crockpot Pressure Cooker all the time and I never thought to use the liquid from vegetables in place of some of the water required. Thanks!

      Have a Rockin great day

    2. I’ve read similar articles about he value of the liquid in food and at the very least you should pour it on your garden, basically as fertilizer. Not meat type food, obviously.

  15. Hi Sandi, excellent article. It’s always nice to read of someone’s real-world experience instead of wondering about things you read from “official” sources.

    I think my pressure-canned potatoes from five years ago look like the “science experiment gone awry” you mentioned but once I use them to make corn chowder, they taste as good as the newer ones and the Frankenstein-after-12-rounds-with-Muhammad-Ali look goes away as they fall apart in the chowder. I think any canned items that get mushy and seem unpalatable can be used in soups without any problems. And in TEOTWAWKI situation when we’re turning over dead logs to look for grubs we can cook up, what seems unpalatable now will taste wonderful when it’s all there is.

    It would be interesting to know what kinds of beans you had and how hard they got after not rotating them. I’m trying to grow all my own dry beans for a year’s use but have tons in storage in case the SHTF, and I’m always wondering how hard they’ll be in ten years. Your experience with beans would be very enlightening.

    Thanks again for posting your real-world experience with long-term storage.

  16. Calories are near-n-dear to my heart!

    I owned a restaurant business for ten years; my motto — “everybody gets fed”.
    Accordingly, we have a pair of forty-foot Conex shipping-containers aka ‘the cans’ plus a forty-foot OTR cargo trailer.
    Their shelves are packed with chow of all descriptions including dog food, plus clothes and gardening tools.
    I store some spare tires mounted on wheels to fit our collection of farm trucks.
    I agree, I’m weird that way.

    My storage food experiences:
    * Factory-pack cans of pineapple blew-out around year three.
    * Factory-pack cans of tomatoes last about four years before they blow.
    Hence, our tomatoes are in glass.
    Why do we store pineapple?
    Like most import food, chocolate and Brazilian nuts comes to mind, they are non-available during a disaster.
    And I think these phases of this Economic Lock-Down qualify as a disaster.
    * Nitro-pack grains in mylar in five-gallon buckets for sprouts are viable past two decades.
    * sardines and other pelagics are good past a half-decade.
    * jerky and biltong rarely last long enough to verify any potential storage failures… they magically disappear in weeks!

    My failures:
    * expecting my California relatives to evacuate to our Oregon farm.
    Good grief… they are in spittin’ distance of the Camp Fire.
    After the destruction of the town of Paradise, my sister invested in a larger cistern and propane tank.
    I look at their ranch, my evaluation is along the lines of ‘lipstick on an outhouse’, or as Fred Reed says ‘that makes as much sense as lug-nuts on a birthday-cake’.
    This week, my California mountains family belly-ache about the poor air from the Grass Valley fires.
    And the fires on the Coast Range.

    All of my family avoid city-dwellers in cities such as Sacramento like the plague they are.
    How long before the city-dwellers decide to explore the country in search of fresher air?
    The way I estimate the diminishing odds of my family — they are unlikely to see me again.
    I have little to gain by visiting them, and too much to lose.

    * my California family installed flag-poles.
    They have the audacity to fly the flag of fUSA!
    In the midst of a thousand-to-one majority of the enemy against them, that act of blond/blue-eyed defiance is suicide.

    How bad are California city-dwellers?
    We speak similar words, so we can discuss basics such as ‘how much is a postage stamp?’, but other words such as ‘freedom’ or ‘republic’ or ‘self-sufficiency’ get blank stares… or worse, angry disgusted furious glares.
    The difference between California city-dwellers and me is vast; I don’t see any middle-ground as possible.
    I’m certainly not of a mind to join their culture, mine is doing just fine.
    Thanks anyway!

    So, ‘yes’, I store calories.
    I can easily feed a couple-three dozen folks for a couple-three years until our apocalypse gardens are perfected.
    And if our evaluations indicate our farm could be over-run by California city-dwellers, our forty-foot trailer is instantly ready to move to our summer pastures up the hill.

    I think the ‘>ten-thousand daily’ requirements of wood-land fire-fighters is realistic.
    Today, working the farm, a couple-three twelve-hundred calorie MREs would barely cover my breakfast.

    How long before all those fashionably-obese poor-impulse-control city-dwellers get hungry enough to investigate small operations such as ours?
    Storing calories is only part of the plan.

  17. Sandi- thank you for your generosity of sharing firsthand information, which i consider most valuable. I will print hard copies with notes.

  18. Thank you, Sandi! This was an excellent article with lots of helpful information about the longevity of different kinds of food items and stored in various ways (canned, dehydrated, boxed, etc). It’s a tough assessment to make, and I really understood how you must have felt about having to discard some of that stash, but agree with you whole heartedly — having these supplies in place brought, and will continue to bring, so much peace of mind.

    Most among us have probably had to discard something along the way due (or even suffered more serious supply losses for any number of reasons). In addition to learning a lot about the longevity of food in and of itself because of “what it is” and “how it’s stored”, we also learn a lot over time about how to manage food rotation, what we really use and how often, where it should be stored, and even the ways in which we might attend to that storage if it’s any distance away.

    For us, pandemic conditions have been an opportunity to look at important aspects of our own food storage strategies, supply decisions, and re-supply sourcing. Currently we’re working through how best to store much larger quantities of food for use across much longer periods of time.

    It’s a pursuit that generates some interesting questions and challenges especially when we become “life-and-death serious” about how much food is actually required per person per year — and under conditions when it may be that “no help is coming”. This turns out to be a much greater logistical endeavor than might be imagined — and it covers everything from stored foods to renewable resources like garden produce. We also recognize that our food supply lines must receive regular/routine attendance — it’s an ongoing concern.

    Related to this — we’re revisiting the question of “how much time” coverage is needed. We have no way to know with certainty, but 7 years comes to our thoughts often. Sometimes we consider 10 years as the goal for which we need to reach, but this is much more a matter of safety net planning — and helps to account for loss for any reason or even miscalculation. The very thought of it is daunting, but necessary.

  19. I seldom comment…this article is exceptional! My timing, beginning storage, attempts at storage investigation, and even results, are eerily similar to mine. I have bought too many glass jars to easily store, but believe they’re worth every penny. Thanks for the great article…mounbtain Marv in NC

  20. To SB community… opened bag of rice this past weekend that was vacuum sealed in July 2015… cooked…tasted…was good / used to make Mexican casserole… been eating canned chili ( Vietti and Hormel brands ) with best buy dates of June 2015…no problems at all … we have canned vegetables ( not home canned) with dates back to 2015 as well and no problems…have discovered that store bought canned fruits last about 2-3 …TY for a most informative article… will be printing and posting on wall in storage area

  21. unopened peanut butter such as jiffy with or w/o peanuts will last for decades if frozen. I’m eating some frozen 15 years ago now. The neat thing about freezing peanut butter is it’s long shelf life after being thawed.

  22. About five years ago, I opened a No. 10 can with several varieties of diced fruit in it. I know that I purchased it in the early 80s. It was stored in the garage, not the best choice. My area, Southern California, gets a maybe three weeks of high temperatures in the summer, but the climate is generally mild.

    The fruit was fine.

  23. Good morning all,

    We too have experienced some good and some bad food storage situations. Our food storage is primarily in a very well insulated pantry that typically remains around 65 degrees. We live in a rain forest so there is high humidity much of the year.

    Some of the good points:

    Food stored in #10 cans is secure from vermin. A friend thought his food storage in
    his Class A motor home was a good idea….so did the rats! They ate his food that was
    in plastic and Mylar, but not his #10 cans. (A a side note, they also destroyed/totaled the motor coach.)
    Also metal is non permeable, however Mylar and plastic will allow a small amount of air to pass which equates to as long as the cans remain intact the contents will also retain the nitrogen packing to help prevent spoilage.
    We do use five gallon plastic buckets with Mylar for bulk storage of many items and found them to be satisfactory and have used several types of pasta and rice that we have had in storage for 10 plus years. Everything looked and tasted fine, however we plan on using the buckets first in any disaster.
    We found Gamma lids on buckets work well for bulk storage of sugar and salt and do a remarkably good job of sealing and not had occasion to use the salt but the sugar was just fine. We also use Gamma lids for everyday use in the kitchen for pasta, flours and sugar and with over a decade of use found them to be quite durable.

    Unfortunately I have had poor longevity of commercially canned tomato sauce products to the point I now open it and put it in to a bowl to check the can interior for corrosion before adding it directly to whatever I’ve on the stove. Next year we should have sufficient tomatoes to can for ourselves. I think the glass jars will be a great improvement over the metal cans.

    Finally, something like five plus years ago, I vacuum packed (using a brake bleed tool) some individually wrapped root beer hard candy. Thinking to have it as comfort food in a stressful situation. It’s been stored in a controlled temp dark place and is still good. I think it’s because of the controlled storage, the vac pack and possibly the individual wrappers, but bottom line is that it worked!

    Just some thoughts…. Blessings all

  24. Thank you for a great article Sandi!

    Food security is one of the most valuable preps we can make. I think even non-Preppers are more awake to this after the Covid runs on stores that wiped out shelves of groceries and hygiene products.

  25. Thank you for the very informative post. Also about fats – this is the most compact form of nutrition hence it’s important to store them and store them right. I’m sure it’ll be burned off from post-collapse sustenance activities. Atherosclerosis is from constant stress, not dietary fat intake.

  26. I recently figured out how to turn my oven into a dehydrator. I put a fan in it and turned the oven on low, which is about 100 degrees. Then I put food on cookie sheets and let it set. It works really well!

  27. Sandi- excellent post. We need more of these types of things.

    For the peanut gallery: I am on my 7th full load of freeze drying with a new, large, stainless steel Harvest Right freeze drier. Some observations:

    -the door gasket moves in and out; to ensure a good door seal, don’t mess with the door hinges! Pull the gasket off each time, wipe clean, and put back PARTIALLY, not all the way in. Let the plexiglass door form a seal on the gasket as you push the door shut to latch.

    -I have done, so far, cooked and uncooked lean ground beef, lamb stew, spaghetti with meat sauce, raw eggs, cooked beef patties, shredded cheddar cheese, and am currently running a batch of uncooked Tilapia fillets. My gut instinct is that the highest and best use of the freeze drier is to preserve proteins. So I will be focusing on meat and fish going forward. The eggs were SO difficult to run without making a mess (which I did, despite my best efforts) that I think it’s just not worth it.

    -de-lamination of the heating element on the top of the tray set: just noticed today; emailed HR and they are getting back to me soon as to which glue to use for repairing.

    -Mylar bags: I am using mylar vacuum sealer bags with a heavy duty vacuum sealer. Mylar is very slick and the vacuum sealer needs help, so I hold down the sealer ‘lid’ and run the unit on ‘pulse’ (manual vacuum) then when the air is mostly out (don’t forget the O2 absorbers) I push the ‘seal’ button. After several days’ observation the mylar bags have retained a vacuum and I am content they will last ‘long enough’ whatever that means.

    -I think the effort of cooking foods first, like stews, is not an efficient use of the freeze drier technology. Your mileage may vary.


  28. I recently did a similar analysis of my preps, a mix of long term storage food, store-bought stuff, and packed-at-home dry foods. Most of it was purchased/packed from 2010-2012.

    I had similar outcomes as Sandi re: oils and most of the canned food. My self-packed food (mostly noodles, rice, dry milk, and flour) came out great, but I did use O2 absorbers in the mylar bags.

    The Red Feather butter, ten years old, was a bit “fluffy” from the can but once re-mixed it was perfect. The Bega cheese had aged in the can somewhat, becoming more firm with a sharper taste, a bit like aged gouda, and perfectly palatable.

    My 10 year old oatmeal packets tasted just fine, which surprised me. Anything with nuts or “wet” fruit like fig bars and more than a year old was rancid and became dog treats.

  29. Hi Scott,
    You shouldn’t be having problems with your door sealing or freeze drying eggs. It may be that you have a leak somewhere. I had to adjust my door a few weeks ago and they can send you a video on how to do so. If you have room in your regular freezer, try freezing your eggs first. I’ve done several batches and had no problems. That is one of the reasons that I suggest looking at some of the other YouTubers that I talked about earlier. I forgot Epicenter Bryan. His is a lot of test stuff. You can get all sorts of ideas. I had a lot of nuts in my freezer and have run them through the freeze dryer. They are great. Just like fresh nuts. There really is a learning curve. I had a large mess with milk back in the Spring. After a lot of testing, I found that not only did my door need adjustment but I had to take my dryer apart and fix a leak elsewhere. I was pretty intimidated, but did it , and now I am so proud. The good news is that the dryer works better than it ever has. Harvest Right technical support is very good but first you have to get past the Gate Keepers, just like in a doctors office. LOL Good Luck!

    1. Well the egg thing was just because I am clumsy and also I did freeze them first but had them stacked and the trays stuck together; should have been playing circus music in the background when I was messing with all that. Lesson learned. I’ll try the eggs again but with some sort of better way to keep the trays separate when pre-freezing.
      Thanks for the tips!

  30. Couple of years ago, a former Marine captain sampled some of my ham slice MREs, that i had purchased around 1990. They were slated for disposal, and had been stored in a Conex container above ground for over ten years. Freeze. Thaw. Freeze. Thaw. Surely, they were dangerous. But I called his wife the next day to check on him and he as fine.
    Your millage may vary!

  31. Great article. So timely. My food storage is unfortunealtly subject to the high heat of the So Cal desert Mtns. Thanks for the impetus to start eating and testing some of the older canned goods. I will build a root cellar in hopes of keeping food storage cooler. To bad construction in So Cal didn’t include cellars after about 1950. Thanks for your comment Survivorman99. It helps coming from someone in the general vicinity. I usually have about 3 months of Temps over 95 degrees.

  32. Sandi, thank you for the great article. We have all been there and unfortunately learned some hard lessons.

    2 main things I do now as a “first priority” –

    Repackage any dry store bought items and vacuum seal in bags or in jars.

    As i am a more “mature lady”, my eyes are not as good as they used to be in reading those “tiny, sometimes blurry” ridiculous “best by dates”. Therefore, I use a good Sharpie marker and write the date of purchase on the top of the can. This really helps on the FIFO (first in first out) rotation rule.

    Also, as a side note – it’s been my experience that while the brand name canned goods are more expensive than the store brand, they seem to be more shelf stable. If I do find a good sale on a store brand, like cream of mushroom soup, I still buy it but it doesn’t always go to the “back of the line”.

    As to home canned goods –

    Salsa , 3 years old- still really good, no visible or taste degradation
    Bread and Butter pickles, 3 years old – still really good, no visible or taste degradation
    Whole pickles, 3 years old – taste is OK but soft, I mainly use them in potato salad or something that calls for diced dill pickles.
    Spiced (aka pickled) peaches, 4 years old – slightly darker but still tasty
    Jalapeño Jelly, 2 years old – still great – especially over slightly warm cream cheese with crackers (yum)

    Really enjoying all the comments tonight! Keep em coming!

  33. Very timely article! It seems we all have similar ideas. I am just finishing an evaluation of all of our food storage. We began putting food away in earnest in 2009-10. At that time food was either canned in jars or dehydrated using an Excalibur Food Dehydrator. I opened some peppers and hashbrowns this morning for breakfast from 2014 and they were still fine although the nutrients may have degraded. Since 2009-10 we have acquired a Harvest Right freeze dryer as well to add to our preservation options. Now the science of which method to use is what I am concentrating on to get the best product. The other lesson I have learned is to try the foods after you have completed which ever process you are using. One of my failures was freeze dried guacamole. My son and his family came for dinner recently and I pulled out some freeze dried guacamole to have with chips and it was terrible! The taste was off and it was not edible. We have dried several containers of it and I suspect none is worth eating.

    As for which process to use some of it depends on the texture you like. I like canned fruit in light syrup and nothing else measures up even though I freeze dry fruit as well. I make tomato powder by dehydrating the tomatoes rather than freeze drying them. Once they are dry, I powder them and then seal them in glass jars. I still have (2) half gallon jars of tomato powder from 2014 and the reconstituted powder is great to thicken sauces or use in lieu of a tomato paste.

  34. Sandi, along with all the comments, has developed a valuable resource.
    Having a small dog around, might help with checking the edibility of the stored food. … Supposedly, having a small dog as a food tester was recommended to the WW1 Veterans, that lived through being gassed by the enemy during WW1.

    The poison gas commonly used would burn out the sense of smell and taste-buds of the Veterans (+ much of their lungs if they lived). …. Before refrigeration was common, food often went bad.
    Obviously, there are limits to using a dog as a food tester. …
    Salmonella is a problem, that dogs normally can’t detect. Plus, dogs aren’t too keen on some things like hot peppers, sour pickles and lots of fruits and vegetables.

    I was told, the Veterans would feed their dog something (the Veteran planned to eat), and then watch the dog for a while. … Small dogs have a short pipe. If the ‘bad’ food ~quickly comes back out the front-end or back-end, of the pipe, Veterans knew the food was bad.
    +Dogs can eat things even guys would NOT dream about eating. [When the gals calls us guys DOGS, it’s not completely true.]

    Using a dog as a food tester is NOT 100% accurate. But, in a SHTF event, using a dog is better than using your Uncle Harry. (Or guessing about it)

  35. It was probably not the best idea, but around 2004 I found a partial case of C Rations dated 1967 that had been left laying on the floor of the old smokehouse at my grandparents house. They were bought for a camping trip when my Dad was a boy, and never used. Many of the cans had rusted through, but I opened a few that hadn’t, and the food was fine. It didn’t taste fresh, but it was very edible. No bulging cans or anything. The canned bread did taste pretty bad though.
    Canned food can last quite a while, even in pretty poor conditions.
    I don’t smoke, so I didn’t try them, but the Lucky Strike and Chesterfield cigarettes that were in the packaged still smelled sweet and nice just like brand new cigarettes should.

  36. Sandi has provided some very useful information(thank you Sandi!) on real world experienced shelf lives, as have some others here in the comments section. I guess I will add my 2 cents worth of experience as well. The first lesson to be learned from what I tell you today, is keep up with your rotation of food! Second lesson would be to keep a better inventory, but I got kind of lazy on that. I recently discovered about 10 cases of No 10 cans of various foodstuffs, that were put into my food storage in the summer and fall of 1999, as part of my preps for the biggest non-event of the century, Y2K. That makes them, according to old school math, just about 21. These were products self canned at an LDS food storage center that an LDS friend took me to. They were all stored in cardboard boxes holding six cans, and on shelves off the floor in a shop environment. No damage to either boxes or cans on the exterior Here is a run down of the product, and how it fared:

    Rice: looked perfect, cooked up perfectly, as expected
    Pinto Beans: Looked normal, tasted normal, seemed like they maybe took a little linger to cook to the soft stage.
    Sugar, white: Had a thin, hard crust tasted fine, no visible damage to the can interior
    Potato Pearls: These were inedible, unfortunate since when fresh they were a very good instant potato
    Split peas: Made some great soup.
    Dehydrated onions: Still smell and taste like onion. Still dry and normal texture.
    White flour: The can interior was in perfect shape. The flour, tasted a little stale. I made biscuits with them, and with fresh flour, and had my daughter and wife do a taste test. They easily picked out the ones made with the old flour. However… they were not inedible, and I think if I mixed half and half with fresh flour, would be ‘OK’ for biscuits. Did not try it as bread yet. However, since flour at this time is still pretty cheap, i will probably toss it all as a lesson learned.
    Non Fat Dry Milk: So, when mixed up, this had a very slight yellow color as compared to the freshly mixed version, and a very, very slightly off taste. Not bad, not rancid, just different from the fresh non fat dry milk I compared it to . Being the frugal soul that I am, I have saved this, and have been using it a couple of times a week when I make sausage gravy, and it doesn’t affect the end product at all according to those that I have fed it to.
    Cornmeal: Turned rancid as expected.
    Overall, I salvaged about 80% of these, and will work it into our near future meal plans.

    I also recently retired, and found some foods I had tucked away in my office in case I had to stay on site overnight for some reason or in case I might need to walk home in a disaster. Usually, I had worked things like these into my lunch rotation, but these were overlooked (or more likely just ignored if I was honest with myself):
    Single serving packages of Ore-Ida mashed potatoes of various flavors from 2014: Tasted fine
    Several cans of various types of Progresso soup from 2008-2012: Tasted fine, maybe lost some texture/firmness to the carrots and potatoes in them.
    Small can of Spam from 2010: As edible as Spam ever is. After a taste test, I sliced it, dipped in egg batter and crushed corn flakes, fried it up and never looked back.
    Small single serving packets of Hills Bros. Instant Coffee: Tasted how one expects instant coffee to taste. Not quite engineer coffee, but OK.
    Bumblebee tuna and crackers combo from 2012: Horrible and inedible, bad enough to gag a maggot.
    Bouillon packets from about 2009: These were kind of hard, but did dissolve in hot water and taste pretty much like beef bouillon.
    Small box of soda crackers from 2011: Vile.

    Hope this helps add the the real world database here on the ol’ blog!

  37. A lot of great comments on an article that is near & dear to all of us. We have been ‘prepping’ since the mid 1980’s and like many of you have seen our errors and thrown out a lot of stuff.

    -MRE’s like mentioned above do not last, I throw those out a few years after the use by date and get another case, for me these are emergency, send out with the patrol, young guys food.

    – Pineapple in cans, definitely does not last, as stated by others, we stock a few cans and rotate regularly.

    -Spaghetti sauce- we only buy in glass jars, lasts years longer than the cans (despite being more expensive)

    -We avoid #10 cans of tomatoes for the same reason, use the small cans and rotate.

    -White Rice for decades I stored it in glass or plastic containers, but noticed after 10 years or so, it had an odd smell, so we cooked and fed it to the chickens. Now, we store it in vacuum sealed large mason jars with a Food Saver and have had no issues. Also stored in mylar bags in gamma sealed 5-gallon buckets.

    -Sugar as mentioned, do not use an O2 absorber. Yeah we learned that lesson.

    -Mountain House and Auguson Farms #10 cans we have used for several years, no issues. Just very pricey right now.

    -We have had good success (10 years or so) on pressure canned meat done by ourselves with no issues, store bought canned meat we have not opened, I figured we would feed those to the dogs if not edible by us.

    -One thing that did surprise us, was the Idaho potatoes freeze dried, available from Sam’s in a large cardboard container, about $6. We repacked those in a plastic varmint proof container and they lasted over 10 years with no issues, I would highly recommend them.

    -When our kids were little, we vacuumed packed in Mason Jars with a Food Saver some Cheerios and other dry cereal, and I opened those (about 12 years later) and they were still tasty. Amazing.

    -We also vacuumed seal in a Mason Jar, crackers that my wife likes, and those last at least 5 years, no issues.

    -We also store our Olive Oil in gallon plastic jugs in the freezer (I believe I read it here on SB years ago) for 5 years, than I bring it out into the house pantry and start using it, refilling my bottle on the stove. That has worked for us for years, maybe 15 or more… Rotate and carry on.

    -I know Crisco as mentioned, is garbage, but we store some until we can kill a feral hog come SHTF time.

  38. Excellent article. We aren’t so good about rotating food but lately we’ve been working on it. My wife has a habit of packing away canned food (Ball jars) in boxes and we’re trying to change that to keep it on the shelf for routine use. There is a perception of value attached to canned goods that makes us not want to rotate them regulalry due to the time and effort invested in each batch of stew, etc. we are getting better about planning batch runs for replenishment and adding extra stock to our shelves. We are amping up food storage so this article is very timely! Thanks to the author for putting in the time to write this. You are helping people more than you know.

    On oils – be very careful. Nutritional advice articles are often VERY far behind the curve (as in years or decades) when it comes to providing reliable info on health impacts of certain foods. I no longer use Crisco and rarely eat canola/seed oils or fried foods anymore. Over the long term this stuff wreaks havoc on multiple systems including gut health, immune system, your brain, cardiovascular and energy production. Within weeks of eliminating certain oils from my diet I felt remarkably different. Do some research on the content of your own body fat (its a wonderful storage place for all kinds of stuff) and how long it takes to cycle bad stuff out of your fat tissue. Science is proving the health and chemical makeup of fat tisue has a big impact on your immune system and energy production. We stick to olive, avacado and coconut oils. I often bring my own olive and MCT oil to restaurants.

    1. Randell Losse,

      Also lard and tallow. Gasp. I know. People think they will kill you. Look up the Weston A. Price Foundation. Butter, Lard and Tallow are actually very good for us, in moderation. Think about this. How sustainable is canola oil? Vegetable oil? Even Olive Oil and Coconut oil? Can you grow it in your back yard and process it yourself? Having it requires you to buy it from a factory, maybe with the exception of olive oil. We can’t grow coconuts in my part of the world. So if fat is essential to life, why didn’t God make it possible for us to grow it ourselves? Oh, yes, he did. It is, as you say, The Fat of the Land. So Butter, Tallow and Lard are sustainable, but they are also the shelf stable options. How convenient! I have many jars of all of them stashed, with the ability to make more.

  39. Ani makes a great point here. We cannot “time” or schedule our lives to coincide with events beyond our control. That’s where having the knowledge to take advantage fo expedient shelter in large buildings, commercial basements, pipe chases, vaults, and other places until travel is safer to undertake. Having a lot of water and a Go pack with you enables you to cope with unexpected problems.
    Most think they have some idea of what their problem or fight is going to look like. You don’t. So I go about my day prepared for the crazy gunman in the Aurora Colorado theater. Not the simple stickup in the parking lot.
    I actually own three shelters in diverse parts of the state. I’m usually near enough to at least one of them. It’s one reason I don’t drive a nice BMW or a new truck. Priorities. Besides, I can get a brand new BMW or truck, later on. Reference, Charlton Heston, in the motion picture Omega Man. Got a new Mustang from the showroom floor every time his gas tank ran low.

  40. Awesome post and we thank you. We are in deep southern Miami, Florida. Over the last 30 yrs of experimenting with various foods our best or longest lasting has been freeze dried products. This is a expensive endeavor because our greatest challenge is trying to maintain storage temperature. Average store temperature for us has been 75° and the above freeze dried packages have last 17yrs so far. All the homemade products except for honey and salt only last 5-7 years. Your post gave us a piece of mind for knowing your 50-70°(most likely w/far less humidity) is close for us and the temperature challenges. Thank you

  41. Interesting article and comments, Thank You!
    A few oddities to add to the mix. I recently had to throw out an unopened #10 can of chocolate cake mix. As I was rearranging the pantry I noticed this can wasn’t sitting flat. Picked it up and saw it had bulged on the bottom. Several days later I noticed that now the top of the can was also bulging. Next morning I woke up thinking what if that can explodes. Gingerly picked it up and took it outside. Several hours later it went to the local waste disposal site. Silly girl. No explosion as it hit the dumpster.
    Next is the unopened jar of peanut butter. Plastic jar. Sat in our very rustic cabin for three years until I wanted something to eat and opened it. Could not cough it out fast enough. The peanut butter had taken on the musty cabin odors and the hot summers hadn’t helped.
    Lastly some good news. I had vacuum sealed Quakers old fashioned oatmeal in quart jars. Put a label with the package use by date of July 2012. Opened a jar recently and it tasted fresh as new. Also, dehydrated some potatoes in 2012, checked on the last bag and the vacuum seal had failed but the potato slices are still crisp and white, no signs of browning.
    Hope all are doing well, I’ve been in self isolation since early March getting my groceries with curbside pick up. And trips to the dump. Not talking to the big green dumpsters… yet.

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