Food That Stays Good Longer Than You'll Be Around

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Food That Stays Good Longer Than You’ll Be Around
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Food That Stays Good Longer Than You'll Be Around

Find out which of your favorite common pantry items have amazingly long shelf lives.

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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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Hard Liquor

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 six to twelve 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 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% 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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Pure Maple Syrup

Opened bottles of pure maple syrup are best stored in the freezer where they will last forever. In the fridge, opened syrup will retain its quality for about one year. Syrup does not freeze in the freezer and returns back to its original consistency after sitting out at room temperature for an hour. Mold growth on the surface of the syrup is not unusual and can be removed by gently boiling the syrup, skimming the skin and pouring the syrup into a clean container.

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You'd be surprised to learn what items in your pantry can last a lot longer than the printed expiration date! With proper storage, some food items can last for many years or indefinitely. In fact, one sticky sweetener has been known to stay edible for thousands of years.

Check out the slideshow above to discover what foods stay good longer than you'll be around.

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