Do you ever feel a little confused by the expiration dates on all your favorite foods? Well, you’re certainly not alone. Between the “best if used by” labels and sell-before recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture, it can all get a little confusing. Especially when so many of those dates can be off and we unfortunately end up throwing good food in fear of getting sick.
Although foods like meat, fish, fruits and vegetables have a short shelf life, there are plenty of foods that actually never spoil and when we mean never, we really mean never ever. Whether you’re looking to stock up for potential emergencies or just want to have a pantry full of the essentials, we share seven foods that will never expire.
Thanks to the magical work of bees, this enchanting nectar keeps forever. It might change color over time and become a bit more crystalized, but it’s surely one that is safe to eat due in part to its natural chemistry of high acidity, lack of water and hydrogen peroxide that creates a fine balance for bacterial growth to steer clear.
You might not think it, but rice — particularly white, wild, Arborio, jasmine and Basmati — is one of the most long-lasting staples in your pantry. Because it’s an annual crop, rice is one of the tabletop essentials that can be stored for a year or more as long as it’s in an airtight container to keep bugs out. If you’re wondering about brown rice though, that definitely spoils in the form of becoming oily and smelling rancid — an odor suggesting its fatty acids are oxidizing.
Trusty old alcohol might just stick it out with us until the end of time because liquor — especially the hard stuff, like rum, rye, bourbon and whiskey are inheritable items that can be passed down from generation to generation and still maintain its flavor. It might lose its aroma a bit, but not enough to notice. If you want to keep them fresh, store in a cool, dark place and never on its side as you would with wine.
Deemed a favorite by survivalists and kids from the 90s, dried meat from big game animals and cows — also known as pemmican or “jerky,” is a food that never expires thanks to its dry texture. Invented by Native American tribes, pemmican is free of moisture where bacteria usually grow and is salted, which adds an extra layer of preservation. High in protein, pemmican can be creatively eaten raw, stewed or fried. But keep in mind, once you open a packet — it needs to be kept airtight.
If you love eating pancakes or waffles, you will be glad to know most syrups will last indefinitely. While the shelf life depends on the best before date, how it’s stored and its commercial ingredients, pure maple syrup is your best bet for keeping your breakfast routine up. It might crystalize over time, but it can be re-heated until boiling to restore its natural consistency. The Massachusetts Maple Producers Association suggests syrup be refrigerated once opened but similarly to instant coffee, if frozen, it will never go bad thanks to its resistance to microbial growth, including molds.
You know how in end-of-the-world movies everyone always has cans and cans of beans? Well, it’s because both canned and dried beans last for years. Though researchers at Brigham Young University found after 30 years that the overall quality of pinto beans decreased, they discovered they were still an acceptable form of protein, fiber, vitamins and versatility that are ideal for emergencies. Classified as “seeds,” beans might take longer to soften when cooked if they’re older, but they don’t lose their nutritional value so their shelf life is indefinite.
There’s nothing like “Noodle Night” during your busy weekday, but if you’re wondering how old that dusty box of pasta is sitting in your pantry — ‘forget about it’! Available in rice, flour, egg, buckwheat and many more, dried pasta can last a lifetime and remain a great source of carbs. To ensure dry pasta’s longevity, store in a cool place, free of moisture and insects; and place in an airtight container or its original packaging.