Did you know that there are many foods that have the shelf life of an eternal flame? Foods that last and remain edible over long periods of time? While a lot of them require a stove or a microwave to cook, there are still a good handful that you can enjoy on the go. So let’s try to outlast these 10 foods that never expire – part 2.
Sticky, sweet, and tastes good alone or on a variety of things. This is the ultimate add on. People have been using honey for just about everything for centuries. Medicinal purposes, food, hair, you name it and there’s a chance that someone has used honey for it. So why doesn’t honey expire? There’s a scientific answer to this question. Honey is sugar. It may not be a white granulated sugar but all sugars are hygroscopic. This means that they do not contain water in their natural state, but do suck up all the water in their environment – leaving little to no room for bacteria and microorganisms to form, because they’ll be sucked dry. Amina Harris, executive director of the Honey and Pollination Center at the University of California explains it way better than we ever could. “Honey in its natural form is very low moisture. Very few bacteria or microorganisms can survive in an environment like that, they just die. They’re smothered by it, essentially.” So basically, there is no chance for anything to go wrong with the sticky sweet substance. As long as your honey is stored correctly (well sealed and stored in a dry place). Then really, you have nothing to worry about.
Natural salt without additives will not go bad. Like Honey, salt is one of those no water kind of guys. In order for food to spoil, microbial growth has to take place. This requires water. Salt doesn’t contain water, so it doesn’t support microbial growth, meaning it won’t spoil. Please notice that we said NATURAL salt doesn’t go bad. This means that the table salt bought from regular grocery stores has the potential of going bad. Although this could take many years. Some boxes of salt even have an expiry date on them. This is not due to the salt itself but from the salt’s manufacturing process. Additives added to the salt such as Iodine and anti-caking agents degrade over time, reducing the shelf life of the salt to about five years. Looking out for the expiration or best before date is an indicator that the salt you’re using contains an additive. If you don’t see one of those two options, there’s a good chance that your salt is all natural. It’s getting easier to find natural products in your local grocery store. So just choose that option, store it right, and have one less thing to worry about.
8. Pure Maple Syrup
Pure maple syrup is one of the easier all natural products to find. It has been on shelves for decades. Granted the price is rather expensive but at least you know that if you wanted to, you can splurge on it. Unfortunately, people often assume that because maple syrup is edible in its natural state that all maple syrups on the shelves do not have a shelf life. This is not the case. There’s a reason why some say pure or natural maple syrup and there’s a reason why some say artificial flavoring. Most people pick up the artificial stuff. We get it, it’s easy, cheaper and tastes almost identical to the pure stuff. That being said, according to the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association, MMPA, all maple syrup can and will go bad at some point. It all depends, like everything else on this list, on how well you treat it. Unopened, it can last indefinitely, while opened syrup should be refrigerated – many people just store it in a cabinet. But the elements are too much for such a fragile food. If you do see mold on the rim or in the container that your syrup is in, there is a sketchy way to fix that. The MMPA says that if any harmless mold should form on the surface, merely bringing the syrup to a slight boil, skim the surface, and pour into a clean container and refrigerate. We did say it was sketchy, so proceed at your own risk.
Right off the bat, many people are probably thinking what is pemmican? Pemmican is the unnecessary extra word for dried meat. It has been called the ultimate survivalist food. History shows it was created by Native Americans and adopted by European explorers of the quote-unquote New World. Pemmican is a blend of fat and protein from lean, dried meat. The word pemmican comes from the Cree word “pimi” for “fat” or “grease.” Traditionally, the meats used in pemmican included bison, moose, deer, and elk. Beef can be used as well. So you can see why this food is one that would be popular for survivalists, and has also been turned into a great on-the-go snack food. We’re sure the real pemmican is not as tasty as the store bought jerky. But, let’s be honest, beggars can’t be choosers. Dried meat is dried meat period. Some people have the luxury of jazzing it up a bit and others just have to do with what they can. So you can now see why something like pemmican cannot go bad. All the properties in meat that make it go bad have basically been cooked out or dried out.
6. White Rice
Rice is a staple in the homes of many. Many people probably had a bag of rice sit in the pantry for years and then pull it out for that one special recipe that calls for it. Then you wonder, “how safe is this rice?” There are a number of white rice types that can be stored virtually anywhere and indefinitely as long as it doesn’t get wet. Rice is like a group of gremlins – if you get the grains wet you are in for a lot of trouble. Jasmine, basmati, and even wild rice are ready to use at any time. It doesn’t really matter where you keep them but they are at their optimum best when stored in a cool, dry place. An airtight, sealed container or the original packaging is the best option. When it comes to brown rice, however, there’s a different set of rules. Brown rice can usually last for just over a year. White rice has essentially no oil content in it. So there’s really nothing to disturb it as it sits in that bag or container for years. But other rices like brown that have been tampered with a bit, eventually begin to break down due to the other ingredients not being able to hold their shape.
Cornstarch, also known as corn flour, is often used as an alternative to wheat flour. It has the same derivatives and it’s basically flavorless so you can’t taste a difference in your food. This is actually one of the foods that many people believe should not even have a best before date on it. No matter how old cornstarch gets, it can still be used for a number of things. It’s a thickening agent, great for baking, and a little bit goes a long way. People normally keep it in a cool, dry place like a pantry – some people even leave it in the fridge. Cornstarch is something that is only used from time to time, so it’s appreciated that it can be kept for a long time. The only real reason why someone would need to throw away their cornstarch is if something contaminated it, such as water or bugs getting inside the package. Other than that, it will be fine. So if you open the package and there’s mold or any other organic growth inside, discard it. That growth is most likely caused by water. If the powder seems perfectly fine, it most likely is. If there are some small clumps, it’s okay. You can always sift the powder before using.
4. Corn Syrup
I only know corn syrup to do one thing, make candy. It’s not a popular staple in household kitchens. Corn syrup can sit in a pantry for years and not change its form at all. Manufacturers of the product say that the best before date is something that is just a guideline. The real test is what the syrup itself looks like, and in some cases tastes like and smells like. Discoloration and cloudiness are two of the things to indicate that your corn syrup is on its last leg. Oddly enough, it is still edible. There isn’t much you can do to corn syrup that would render it useless. Its resilience is quite admirable. Corn syrup can be consumed safely as long as it appears normal. However, most brands will have a best-by date stamped on each bottle. This reflects the fact that it’s best if the product is consumed by that date. If the corn syrup is past that best-by date or doesn’t have a date stamped on it, the chance that it may spoil is greater. That doesn’t mean that it’s actually spoiled to the point that will make you ill, it just means that it has lost some of its potency. The thickness of the corn syrup also can be an indicator to how the product is holding up. The longer it sits, the thicker it gets. You can still eat it but there is more of a challenge getting it out of the bottle. You could be better off just buying fresh.
3. Pure Vanilla Extract
Most people don’t realize how useful vanilla extract is. It’s normally used in baked goods but it’s also a common ingredient in a few foods. It adds a lovely touch of sweetness. A container of pure vanilla extract can sit in your cupboard indefinitely. How can something so sweet last so long? Vanilla beans and pods are cured in alcohol so, the long shelf life has a lot to do with that. This is a labor intensive product to manufacture. The orchid that produces vanilla pods (or beans) blooms only once a year and must be pollinated by hand. This ensures pollination in case the hummingbirds or bees don’t do their job. The labor intensive effort of growing, aging and curing the vanilla beans is a direct correlation to the cost paid by consumers at the stores. Like all the foods on this list in order to keep this product at its best, it must be stored in a cool dry place. Being exposed to elements is something that will greatly depreciate the value of your pure vanilla extract. Keep in mind this product can be very expensive to purchase so, you certainly do not want to waste it by not sealing it tightly and leaving it exposed to sunlight.
2. Bouillon Cubes
Right off the bat, we can tell you that if you even let the tip of your tongue touch a bouillon cube you will know why they never expire. These harmless looking cubes contain a lot of salt. Salt can act as a preservative so there’s no chance that these cubes are going down without a fight. They do contain a best before date which is normally two years after they are produced. This just means that it’s at maximum capacity within those two years. If you decided to use them after the fact, maybe adjust how much you use so instead of 3, try using 4. Either way, they are good to go and there’s no need to throw away money well spent. We doubt that bouillon cubes last long in people’s pantry anyway, seeing as many people only buy them when they actually need them. It’s actually pretty hard to destroy these little guys. Basically, the only way they can go bad is if something gets in them or mold begins to form. Keep in mind that bouillon cubes are a seasoning. They really are just dried herbs and seasonings put together and used as a flavor burst for your meal. But because they are already dry and compact, it becomes harder to destroy them in ways that would be easy to destroy other products.
1. Dried Pasta
There is always a random box of pasta in every household that you go to. And, why not? Pasta is long lasting, a great staple food, and once you add that sauce to it well, it can’t be beaten. A lot of people actually forget that pasta is made fresh and dried out for mass consumption. This is because making fresh pasta takes skill, time and knowledge. There’s no doubt that fresh pasta will go bad if it is not eaten almost immediately. But dried pasta? This gem of food can sit and wait for you to pass it by for years until you are hungry enough to boil it up and eat it. There is one simple reason why dried pasta takes years to POSSIBLY go bad; it’s dried. In order to inject life back into your favorite penne, rigatoni, angel hair etcetera, you need to add water to it. Nothing is penetrating those tough shell walls besides water. It’s rare to see a dried pasta with mold on it. If you do then you know some kind of liquid got into the box and just festered. However, there are signs to look out for if you do think you pasta has gone bad. If it tastes bland even after salting the pot then that means that your pasta has lost flavor. If your pasta has lost flavor, this doesn’t mean it’s a total wash, you could technically still eat it. Unfortunately, it probably won’t taste as good as a fresher box. But you won’t die from it and that’s always a bonus.