Foods that last (almost) forever

Long shelf-life is an important criterion for food. For some food products, the expiry date is in the distant future.

Let’s start with rice, one of the longest-lasting foods, especially the white varieties, which can be kept almost indefinitely provided storage is in a dry and cool place. Durum wheat pasta also has a very long shelf life, retaining its flavour and texture for years if stored properly. Instant mashed potatoes are another example of long-life foods, as they are packed in an airtight container and will keep for several years.

Canned and pickled foods

Canned foods are an essential part of any long-life pantry, with tinned vegetables, fruit, meat and fish lasting for many years without losing their nutritional value. Similarly, pickled foods, such as cucumbers or olives in brine or vinegar, retain their quality for a long time. Honey is another remarkable food that can be preserved almost indefinitely: the Egyptians left honey in the tombs of their pharaohs, and it is still edible today.

Dried foods

Dried fruits and vegetables have a very long shelf-life if stored properly, with sultanas, apricots and plums retaining their flavour and sweetness for many years. Dried mushrooms and tomatoes also keep for a very long time, and provide great ingredient for soups, sauces and casseroles.

Legumes and nuts

Beans, lentils and peas are extremely long-lasting foods: stored dry and cool, they can last for many years. Nuts and seeds also have a very long shelf-life if stored properly, with almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds lasting for years without going rancid if they are kept in a cool, dry and dark place.

Spices and sweets

Dry spices such as salt, pepper and caraway seeds will keep almost indefinitely. They may lose some flavour over time, but are still safe to use. Sugar and other sweeteners such as syrup or molasses also have a very long shelf-life, and chocolate can also last for several years, especially dark varieties with a high cocoa content.

Packaged and sealed foods

Vacuum-sealed foods such as coffee or certain cheeses can last for several years without losing their taste or quality. Similarly, many cereal products such as oatmeal or cornflakes can be kept for a very long time in their original packaging. Packaged snacks such as chips or crackers can also last for several years if stored correctly.

Falstaff Editorial Team
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