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Foods That Will Outlast You

By Stephanie Dayle

A while back I read this great little article called "10 Cooking Staples that Can Outlast You" by Laura Moss - and wanted to share with you. While it was not meant for prepping you can absolutely use it as such. I added a few extra thoughts of my own in BLUE type throughout the article.

Go ahead and buy extra of these foods when they are on sale and don't throw them out if you find them as established residents in your pantry.


Regardless of whether your sugar is white, brown or powdered, it will never spoil because it doesn't support bacterial growth. The challenge with sugar is to keep it from hardening into chunks. To keep sugar fresh, store it in an airtight container or seal it in a plastic bag. If your brown sugar is more like a brown rock, you can revive it with just a minute in the microwave on low heat. 

Or by throwing a piece of bread or a marshmallow in the bag with it. The next time you grab it - it will be good as new. Brown sugar costs a bit extra so if you want to skip it you can add a little molasses to your white sugar (one cup of sugar to one TBS of molasses) and make your own brown sugar. Molasses is the by-product from making white sugar, so you are just adding that back in. 

Sugar can also be combined with iodine to make "Sugardine" - a homemade antiseptic commonly used on horses and livestock for abscesses and thrush but theoretically could also be used on people. The theory behind 'sugardine' is that sugar doesn't support bacterial growth and neither does iodine - combine the two you have an antiseptic paste that lasts forever.

I would also add Molasses to the list of Foods that will out last you. It's good for you as it contains minerals like iron and magnesium. Molasses is appealing to livestock and is good for them too. It's a nice flavoring in recipes - you can't really go wrong with it, plus it will not go bad. If you see molasses on sale grab a bunch of it! The "Sulfured" part on the label just means that it was the by-product of immature sugar cane plants and they added a little bit of sulfur dioxide to it as a preservative - it's still perfectly safe. "Unsulfured" molasses doesn't need a preservative. Molasses can also be added to garden soil in small amounts as a soil amendment. 

Blackstrap Molasses is made from the third and final boiling of sugar cane to extract sugar and is the least sweet and most bitter, however it contains the highest amount of minerals and vitamins - you can usually find it at health food stores. It's this form of molasses that is usually used in "sweet feeds" for livestock. Blackstrap Molasses also is used to make rum or ethanol (a fuel you that can be used for cooking or light or,.... if you have "kahunas" you can drink - the 190 proof version of Everclear is an example of ethanol alcohol). 

Pure vanilla extract

If you have real vanilla extract in the back of the cupboard, there's no need to throw it out because it lasts forever. It may be more expensive than its imitation counterpart, but its shelf life certainly outweighs the extra cost. Keep that vanilla flavor at its best by sealing the bottle after each use and storing it in a cool, dark place. 

Vanilla is really affordable right now, and it's also easy to make yourself but if that's not your thing try Sam's Club or Costco for nice bulk prices. Same goes for all the other extracts. Click here to see how to make homemade extracts.


White, wild, jasmine, arborio and basmati rice all keep forever so there's no need to throw them out. Brown rice is the one exception because it has a higher oil content so store it in the refrigerator or freeze it to maximize its shelf life. Once you've opened a bag or box of rice, move it to an airtight container or resealable freezer bag to keep it fresh. 

Rice is wonderful, it is a perfect emergency food to keep on hand, it's still cheap right now you can pick up 25 lbs at Cash and Carry or Costco for around $10.95. Rice is an expander - it makes a bigger meal out of everything you put it in and you can even pop it like corn or make a dessert with it. Most white rice is enriched with B vitamins in the United States - so even if you have a diet rich in white rice you are not immediately at risk for any deficiencies. Rice is a source of protein but it is not a complete protein so you should always be pairing it up with nuts, beans, meat, fish and other sources of protein. 

Click here to see some rice already prepackaged and ready for storage.

Corn starch

You can thicken gravies and sauces for years with just one box of corn starch because it keeps indefinitely. Store this kitchen staple in a cool, dry area and be sure to reseal it tightly after each use. 

Sealing it well keeps critters out of it too. Any flour or starch you choose to buy extra of and store should be stuck in your freezer for a minimum of 3 days to kill any insect eggs that are most likely hiding inside (gross - but its legal because the eggs are not harmful, they are just annoying when they hatch and eat your food. Personally I take them out of the freezer, let them come up to room temperature, then in 24 hours stick them back in for another 3 days). Corn starch can be added to gluten free flours to help make gluten free bread, used as a powder to help dry and sooth irritated skin, as a paste to help draw out the pain of a sting or bite, and as a binder glue in many crafts. It's also used make the white markings on a horse sparkle.


Whether you use it in your tea, on your toast or as an alternative sweetener, that jar of pure honey is good forever. It may get grainy or change color, but it's still safe to eat — and delicious — because its antibacterial and anti-viral properties keep it from spoiling. You can help keep it fresh by storing it in a cool area, and you can improve the quality of crystallized honey by placing the jar in warm water and stirring it until the grainy parts dissolve. 

Honey will only have those "antibacterial and anti-viral" properties that are so useful for when we are sick, if it is "raw" honey and has not been pasteurized. Raw honey should not be fed to children under the age of 2. Another way to de-crystallize raw honey without pasteurizing it is to stick the honey jar in an oven over night with the oven light on - in the morning your honey will be good as new. This low heat will not ruin your raw honey. 

Hard liquor

Mixing drinks at your holiday party? There's no need to replace those decades-old bottles of gin and whiskey. Distilled spirits like vodka, rum, whiskey, tequila and gin don't ever spoil — even after opening. The taste, color or aroma may fade over time, but it'll hardly be noticeable. Keep the bottles tightly closed and store them in a cool area away from direct heat or sunlight. 

High proof booze can be used to disinfect wounds or surgical tools, add flavor to recipes, vodka can fluff up pie crusts, and can be used as household cleaner. It can also be used in moderation as a stress reliever and mild sedative. Ethanol alcohol, such as the 190 proof Everclear is also fuel you that can be used for cooking in alcohol stoves (these can be found in marine stores as they are commonly used in boats, or homemade out of pop cans or soup cans) or if you have "kahunas" you could drink it. And historically booze has ALWAYS been an item of barter.

The contents of your salt shaker will never spoil, regardless of whether it's basic table salt or sea salt. Simply store it in a cool, dry place and salt will keep indefinitely. 

With water, salt and sugar you also have Homemade Gatorade to administer in conditions of high heat, fever, or dehydration (6 tsp sugar, 1 to 1/2 tsp salt to one liter of water). 

Twice daily salt water rinses are helpful for sores in the mouth, bitten tongues, and tooth aches. Saline rinse for the eyes can remove debris and other irritants. Iodine deficiency commonly leads to thyroid gland problems, and is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation, specifically endemic goiter, a disease characterized by a swelling of the thyroid gland, usually resulting in a bulbous protrusion on the neck. Iodized table salt has significantly reduced these disorders of iodine deficiency in countries where it is used. That being said, *today* the average person gets more than enough iodine in their diet so iodized salt is not required in a healthy diet - however if you are storing salt for emergencies (5 lbs per person in your family is the MINIMUM recommendation) iodized salt is a GOOD thing.


If you come across a years-old bottle of corn syrup in your pantry, don't throw it out. This sweetener keeps indefinitely as long as you keep it sealed and store it in a cool, dry area. You can also make your own.

What good are pancakes or waffles without maple syrup? Luckily, this flavorful syrup will never spoil if you refrigerate it or freeze it. For long-term storage, seal it in an airtight plastic container and freeze it. 

Even if Maple Syrup does crystalize, as I have never heard of it "spoiling" - you can heat it back up to a liquid form much like honey so I would forgo freezing. If you are looking to make your own, you will need several mature sugar maple trees but you can also make syrup from other maple trees - sugar maples have the highest concentration of sugar which is why they are used, but if you had to, you could boil almost any sap down to make syrup - its just going to take ALOT longer and one would need alot more sap. Let me put it this way, for sugar maples you need 20-50 liters of sap to make ONE. Liter. Of syrup. By boiling for a couple of days. That's why other trees usually aren't mentioned if you drop even one percent in sugar content you will have to double the amount of sap you collect. Grade B is the premium grade of maple syrup and also indicates a darker color and richer flavor than grade A.

Same goes for Agave Syrup. Which has a lower glycemic index than corn, maple, or sugar and it a good choice for those keeping tabs on their sugar. Plus Tequila is made out of it, so it has to be good eats.

Distilled White vinegar

This wonder product can be used for everything, from making marinades and salad dressings to cleaning house and doing laundry. But the best thing about distilled white vinegar is that it lasts for years. Simply close it tightly after each use and store the bottle in a cool, dark place. 

If you use vinegar for canning like I do you may want to have as much of it as you can. My household cleanser recipe is one part water, one part vinegar, with a good dose of lemon juice thrown in for scent and extra cleaning power.

Baking Soda

Baking Soda is pure "sodium bicarbonate", it is primarily used in cooking (baking), as a leavening agent. It contains NO aluminum. Baking soda is one of the most useful things you can stock up on and it will out last you as long as it is sealed properly and stored in a cool dry place, preferably vacuum sealed with an oxygen absorber and doesn't come in contact with anything acidic or damp. 

The uses of it are too many to list. It is a miracle in the absence of yeast. It can be used with cream of tartar and corn starch *to make Baking Powder* (1 tsp. baking powder = 1/4 tsp. baking soda + 1/2 tsp. cream tartar + 1/4 tsp. cornstarch) and when you make baking powder yourself there is no aluminum in it. In most brands of commercial Baking Powder there is aluminum, which some people would like to avoid. Baking powder only lasts a year two - so when we last ran out, I switched to making my own and I am actually more happy with the homemade stuff.  

Baking soda can be used as a household cleanser for scrubbing power, bubble power, and odor absorption power. It can also be used in first aid as paste to draw the  pain out of bites, stings, to sooth itching. It can be used in baths to soften and sooth skin. It can be taken orally to ease heartburn, used as a mouth rinse, made into a paste with hydrogen peroxide to use as a tooth paste, and it can be used as a first line treatment for burns.

Baking soda is also a proven weapon for grease fires and it can help balance the water in your pool. Go ahead and buy a bunch of the stuff, its amazing! If by chance you don't seal it up and store it right, don't worry it while "go bad" per-say, it will turn into 'Washing Soda' (sodium carbonate). Washing Soda cannot be used for baking or first aid purposes but you will still be able use it to wash clothes, dishes, and as a general household cleanser. 

Other Items that Store Long Term

(Items highlighted in blue are available through the Home Front General Store already pre-packaged for long term storage - click on an item to view) 

-Macaroni Noodles 
-Old Fashioned Rolled Oats 
-Mustard (in a cool dark place)

1 comment:

  1. I have found in many cases such as syrup it will not go bad but the container will. It is for this reason I have started repackaging these items in glass containers.


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