19 Foods That Last Forever

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19 Foods That Last Forever
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19 Foods That Last Forever

Foods that have an impressive lasting quality tend to be salty, dry, acidic or slightly toxic. These states have allowed us to keep quite a variety of foods for either emergencies or just to avoid a trip to the grocery store!

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Honey

When stored in a sealed container and away from humidity, honey can be stored indefinitely. Honey keeps well because of its low water content. Archeologists have even discovered a jar of well-preserved, liquid honey in ancient Egyptian tombs over 3,300 years old. Over time, the consistency and color of honey can change. An easy fix for crystallized honey is to gently reheat it.

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Alcohol

Unopened bottles of distilled spirits can last indefinitely with proper storage. Once opened and exposed to some air over time, pure base spirits like vodka, rum and whiskey will not go bad but may change in flavor. Liqueurs contain sugar and other ingredients that can spoil, so watch for signs of crystallization, discoloration or curdling. Cream liqueurs have dairy, cream or egg and only last about 18 months.

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Salt

Keep salt in a tightly covered container to avoid moisture absorption, and it will last indefinitely. Since salt is a mineral, it cannot spoil.

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Rice

Raw white rice keeps indefinitely with proper storage. Even polished white rice stored in oxygen-free and cold temperature conditions can stay fresh for up to 30 years! Brown rice, on the other hand, has a short shelf life of 6 to 12 months; its higher oil content causes it to go rancid more quickly. It’s best to keep rice in a sealed, airtight container and store in a cool, dry place.

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Twinkies

The official shelf life for Twinkies is 25 days, but they are rumored to last much longer. According to a Washington Post article, science teacher Roger Bennatti from Blue Hill, Maine, has kept one in his classroom for 30 years! He described it as “brittle” but “probably still edible”. We wouldn't recommend eating a Twinkie years past its prime, but we marvel at the fact that this cake can stay fresh for nearly a month due to its lack of dairy-based ingredients.

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Pemmican

These little cakes are made from the crushed powder of dried lean meat (usually buffalo, elk or deer) and hot rendered fat. Sometimes berries are added for flavor. Native Americans invented this protein-packed snack, and explorers relied on pemmican because it was easy to make and did not require heating or refrigeration. When traditionally prepared with all the moisture removed, pemmicans are shelf stable indefinitely.

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Sugar

Bacteria does not grow on sugar due to its low moisture content, so properly stored sugar can last forever. If sugar gets damp, it will become hard or lumpy; on the other hand, the evaporation of molasses from brown sugar leaves behind clumps. You can easily fix lumpy sugar by breaking it down with a food processor or heating it in the microwave on low power for one to two minutes per cup.

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Pure Vanilla Extract

When stored and sealed and in a cool dark place, pure vanilla extract can last forever. In fact, it will continue to age like fine wine and slightly improve in flavor.

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Dried Beans

A B.Y.U. study reveals that more than 80 percent of a consumer taste panel deemed retail-packaged pinto beans up to 30 years old as acceptable for emergency use (samples were stored for years in #10 cans with the oxygen removed). Dried beans can last almost indefinitely in the absence of oxygen and light, but gradual moisture loss will affect its taste and texture. Old beans may need longer soaking and cooking times; try adding acidic ingredients or salt toward the end of the recipe to avoid toughening up the skin.

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Vinegar

Some forms of vinegar can remain intact forever. This is unsurprising since vinegar contains a low pH and is technically a preserved food. Ancient Babylonians were using vinegar before 5000 B.C. as both a condiment and a cleaning agent.

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Corn Starch

It's great to keep corn starch around to help thicken sauces, gravies and puddings. When kept dry, corn starch will stay safe to use forever. Make sure to store corn starch in a cool dry area and to seal the container tightly after use.

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Corn Syrup

Like corn starch, corn syrup lasts indefinitely. As long as corn syrup is kept in a sealed container it will remain safe to eat forever.

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Hardtack

This cracker was vital to sustaining the soldiers during the Civil War. Even though the tough cracker stayed edible for long periods of time, it was the subject of less than favorable poems and songs, most likely for its bland flavor.

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Powdered Milk

Powdered milk was once a staple of the fallout shelter supply cupboard because of its indefinite shelf life. If fresh milk were unavailable this would be a decent substitute for cooking and baking.

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Ramen Noodles

Ramen noodles are a dorm room staple.They can last for a decade because the noodles are dried.

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Maple Syrup

When unopened maple syrup will last forever.

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Canned Foods

Nowadays we can preserve foods in cans for long stretches of time. These are ideal to keep around in case of an emergency because they last for over 30 years, but once opened they are at risk of going bad.

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Peanut Butter

Kids will be pleased to learn that peanut butter is a very long lasting food. The kinds that do not need to be kept in the fridge stay edible for a year at room temperature because of the oil in the peanut butter, which tends to keep water away.

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Soy Sauce

Unopened soy sauce can last for a very long time. It's a great way to flavor dishes.

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Discovering the ruins of an ancient civilization is an undeniably exciting event. Architecture, relics and art can reveal so much about the past. Sadly, it's easy for things to decay over time. Food is, of course, one of the most perishable items and very difficult to recover. However, there are certain foods that do actually stand the test of time well. That's because certain foods contain substances that prevent bacteria from breaking them down. Foods that provide inhospitable environments for bacteria will be able to last longer.

Salt

Salt is an obvious mineral that preserves food. Bacteria doesn't have such a drastic effect because salt is a rock, just like granite doesn't go bad either! We just happen to eat salt. Salt also sucks the moisture out of food and dryness prevents bacteria from spoiling food.

Acidity

Bacteria also have a tough time decomposing products with a low pH. Acidity makes things very dry, which isn't an ideal environment for bacteria. Honey is a good example of this, even though it doesn't taste acidic or seem dry. Honey molecules are "hygroscopic," which means that they absorb water very well because their structure is so dry.

Toxicity

The main ingredient in alcohol is Ethanol, which is toxic. Concentrated alcohol can burn any small organism that happens to penetrate it. A poisonous environment isn't very hospitable for bacteria to inhabit and thus it's not easy for bacteria to break this one down.

Check out the slideshow above for foods that will stand the test of time.

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