20 Foods with the longest shelf life

With grocery shopping restrictions across the globe due to coronavirus lockdowns, now is the best time to acquaint yourself with foods that not only boost your immune system but remain fresh for longer, especially if you’re concerned about experiencing a food shortage or would prefer to stay indoors for the duration of your quarantine period.

Here are 20 foods with long shelf lives to be enjoyed at any time:

  •  Apples

Since apples are considered a low-hydration fruit, they’re less likely to go rancid and can last for up to 5 months if stored correctly. They can be a mission to store since only perfect apples – free from cuts, soft spots and insect damage – can be stored. The apples also have to be wrapped in newspaper or kept in boxes to preserve storage life. Any imperfect apples stored with perfect apples could cause all apples to go rancid.

  • Coconut oil

When it comes to cooking oils with a long shelf life, coconut oil gets a gold medal. While refined coconut oil can go rancid after three months, the shelf life of extra virgin coconut oil is indefinite.

  • Pasta

It doesn’t just soothe your carb cravings; pasta could last you a lifetime. When stored in an airtight container, whole wheat pasta can last up to 10 years, while regular pasta lasts up to 30 years.

  • White rice

As long as white rice is kept in a sealed container, it could last up to 5 years. Since brown rice contains fibre-rich oils, it only lasts for about 6 months in a sealed container and up to 12 months if refrigerated.

  •  Peanut butter

According to a scientist at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, the rich Vitamin E count in peanut butter helps to preserve it for storage of up to 12 months after purchase.

  •  Biltong

Perfect as a snack for multiday hikes, camping and quarantine, biltong, which is essentially salt-cured and airdried meat, can last up to 2 years.

  • Honey

According to the US National Library of Medicine, honey is known to have natural antibiotic properties, which not only helps to preserve its shelf life but will help you fight infections.

  • Dried beans

An article published by Utah State University suggests that all legume varieties such as split peas, lentils, kidney beans, mung beans, and black beans can be stored for up to 1 year in a cool, dry location.

  • Salt

A must-have for long term food storage since salt helps to preserve other foods and adds flavour to cooking. As long as it is stored in a dry location, the lifespan of salt is indefinite.

  • Sugar

Add some sweetness to your menu by adding sugar to your pantry. Sugar doesn’t spoil even when the texture changes, but you may want to keep it from getting moist as this could contaminate it.

  • Chia seeds

When refrigerated, chia seeds can retain their goodness for up to 1 year. These tiny seeds are packed with fibre, iron and calcium, and are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Carrots

Carrots have the shortest lifespan on this list but have a relatively long lifespan in comparison to other fresh vegetables. Whole carrots can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 weeks from the best-by date and are best preserved with the leafy stems cut off.

  • All-purpose flour

Make sweet and savoury treats during your quarantine period, using all-purpose flour, which can last up to 8 months when stored in an airtight container.

  • Potatoes

Fried, stewed, roasted or baked, potatoes are the versatile veg that can be added to nearly any dish. When stored in a cool dark, dry location, potatoes can last up to 6 months.

  • Oats

Not only were oats used to preserve other foods during the Great Depression, but they also gained popularity during the recession for their long shelf life. The life span of oats is 2-3 years if kept dry and stored in an airtight container.

  • Canned fish

Although buying canned food like tuna, mussels and sardines isn’t always the ideal option, these foods require no preparation, are ready to eat when opened, and can be stored for up to 5 years.

  • Soup

While canned soup will last up 5 years, homemade soups that are frozen will only last up to 3 months. If you’re choosing to buy canned soup, opt for soups with low sodium content and packed with nutrients from vegetables and beans.

  • Long-life milk

A study by the US National Library of Medicine found that long-life milk stored in locations of 4 – 20℃ can last up to 9 months. Nondairy milk such as coconut milk can last up to 5 years without refrigeration, while soymilk – if stored correctly, can last up to 10 months.

  • Dried fruit

By now, you would have picked up that the longer-lasting foods are the least hydrating ones. Dried fruit can last up to 30 years if stored correctly but remember that fruit contains fructose (sugar) and this, as with any other food, should be consumed in moderation.

  • Onions

Onions thrive in cool, dark, dry locations and will last up to 2 months if stored correctly. Avoid storing the onions with any other vegetables as the moisture released can cause the onions to go mouldy.


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