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Food Storage Duration Charts

This book has covered a great deal about how to safely store all kinds of food for an emergency, but so far most has been very general. It's also vital to know the specifics for many different types of food you may want to store. In these charts, the "cans" column refers to commercially purchased canned food, and "jars" refers to anything that has been canned at home in glass jars.

Any commercially produced food should have an expiry date on it. Use that as a guide but not necessarily as a last-word on the matter. That means a date when it is better to eat before that point, not that it will immediately go "bad" the next day. Many foods are still edible and healthy to eat well after their official end date.

These are just guidelines and should not be considered to be "set in stone" limits. Many foods have been eaten well past their official shelf lives and been completely fine. There are stories of people eating 20 year old home-canned food and finding it still tastes fine and causes them no problems. Use your own judgement once you start passing these dates. Watch for foul smells, odd textures, mold or mildew growth or any bubbling in a liquid. Darkening is fairly normal and shouldn't be considered a sign that the food has gone bad.


These are the foundation goods that make up most long-term food storage, providing you have some basic cooking skills. If you wouldn't know what to do with flour or dry beans, then you should probably stick to commercial canned foods that are simpler to prepare and eat. Because these foods are mainly already in very dry form, you would usually store them in buckets or bags but vacuum packing is another option. Using a vacuum packing method can add a year or 2 to any of these dry product storage times. Some of these items are not dry goods, so their best storage option is listed as well. This is how long you can expect these foods to last when they are properly packed under good conditions.

Stored dry in buckets/bags
Dry pasta10+ years
Dry beans10+ years
White rice15+ years
Brown rice5 years
Flour, all purpose5 years
Baking soda3 years
Baking powder3 years
Cooking oil1 year, stored in original bottle
White sugar6 years
Brown sugar1 year
Cornmeal3 years
Cornstarch2 years
Bread4 months, frozen
Eggs, cracked and lightly beaten4 months, frozen
Cheese, hard cheddar4 months, frozen
Yeast2 years
Butter9 months, frozen
Shortening2 years on the shelf
Milk, powdered5 years
Milk, canned6 months
Rolled oats15+ years
TVP15+ years
Nuts, roasted1 year on shelf, 2 years frozen


Unlike the foods above, vegetables can be stored in a number of ways and each one will give you a different time frame for storage. Anything marked as n/a means that method for storage is not suitable for that food (or that it is not typically available as a commercially canned product)

CansJarsFrozenDriedRoot Cellar
Tomatoes1 year2 years1 year5 years1 month
Carrots2 years2 years1 year5 years6 months
Beets2 years2 years1 year5 years6 months
Corn2 years2 years1 year5 yearsN/a
Green beans2 years2 years1 year5 years1 month
Peas 2 years2 years1 year5 years1 month
CeleryN/a2 years1 year5 years9 months
CauliflowerN/a2 years1 year5 years1 month
BroccoliN/a2 years1 year5 years3 weeks
RadishesN/a2 years1 year5 years3 months
Cabbage2 years2 years1 year5 years9 months
OnionsN/a2 years1 year5 years9 months
Pumpkin2 years2 years1 year5 years9 months
Zucchini2 years2 years1 year5 yearsN/a
GarlicN/aN/a1 year3 years6 months
Potatoes2 years2 years1 year5 years6 months
Spinach2 years2 years6 months5 yearsN/a
KohlrabiN/a2 years1 year5 years9 months
Mushrooms1 yearN/a6 months2 yearsN/a
ParsnipsN/a2 years1 year5 years2 months
Sweet potato2 years2 years1 year5 years9 months
TurnipN/a2 years1 year5 years9 months
Winter squashN/a2 years1 year5 years6 months


Fruits can also be stored in several different ways, but n/a means that method is not a good idea for any particular fruit (or that it is not typically available as a commercially canned product)

CansJarsFrozenDriedRoot Cellar
ApplesN/a2 years1 year2 years6 months
BananasN/aN/a1 year2 yearsN/a
StrawberriesN/a2 years5 months2 yearsN/a
RaspberriesN/a2 years5 months2 yearsN/a
BlueberriesN/a2 years5 months2 yearsN/a
Cherries3 years2 years1 year2 yearsN/a
PlumsN/a2 years1 year2 years3 weeks
Peaches3 years2 years1 year2 years3 weeks
Pears3 years2 years1 year2 years4 months
GrapesN/aN/a1 year2 yearsN/a
Pineapple3 years2 years1 year2 yearsN/a
Papaya2 years2 years2 years1 yearN/a
Mango3 years2 years1 year2 yearsN/a
Oranges3 years2 yearsN/aN/aN/a
Cranberries3 years2 years2 years2 yearsN/a
CantaloupeN/a2 years1 year2 years2 months
Apricots3 years2 years1 year2 yearsN/a
Fruit juice2 yearsN/a2 yearsN/aN/a

Meat and Fish

For the meat section, root cellaring is not applicable in any case and dried meat is a difficult and impractical approach (unless you are storing commercially-made jerky). Stick to these 3 methods for adding meat and protein to your stores. Different cuts of meat will not store differently for the most part, so they are not itemized out.

BeefN/a4 years1 year
Ground beefN/a4 years6 months
Chicken3 years4 years1 year
DuckN/a4 years4 months
VenisonN/a4 years1 year
Pork3 years4 years8 months
LambN/a4 years1 year
BaconN/aN/a2 months
Tuna3 years4 years4 months
Salmon3 years4 years4 months
Other white fish3 years4 years8 months
Ham3 years4 years4 months
Chili2 years3 years6 months
Stew2 years3 years6 months
Cooked pasta1 year3 yearsN/a
Baked beans2 years4 yearsN/a
Peanut Butter1 yearN/aN/a

Extras and Condiments

This is really a mixed bag of items that you might want to have on hand to help add some additional flavor and variety to your basic stored foods. Several of these are purchased commercially in bottles rather than cans, but consider them the same for storage purposes. Just make sure you store them unopened.

Spaghetti sauce 1 year
Soy sauce 5 years
Mustard 2 years
Ketchup 1 year
BBQ Sauce 2 years
Spices, dry 2 years, stored in sealed containers
Soup mix 2 years
Vanilla extract (real) Forever
Chocolate, solid 2 years, in original bag
Chocolate,syrup 2 years
Hard candy Forever
Jam 2 years
Coffee, ground 2 years
Tea 2 years

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