It’s always best to prepare for anything life may throw your way, from natural disasters to financial crisis.
Food is one of the basic human needs for survival, so stocking up on foods that can be stored for long periods of time could save your life, or at the very least, come in handy on a rainy day.
You will never regret setting food aside and building up your food supply, and rice is a great food item for long-term storage.
Why Store Rice?
You can and should store several foods, but rice is an excellent choice to start. It is inexpensive, can be purchased in large quantities, and can be stored for very long periods of time.
Rice makes a great base for meals but also has nutrients and calories if eaten alone. You don’t need to add a ton of salt or other preservatives to rice to make it last in storage, making it a much healthier option than many canned or dried foods.
Rice is also super easy to cook since it requires no additional ingredients other than water and heat to prepare. It fluffs up to twice its size when cooked, making it efficient both for storage and for survival meals, and is filling without being loaded with fat, sodium, or cholesterol.
What are the Risks of Storing Rice?
Insects and rodents are a concern with any food storage, and because rice is a grain that comes from fields, the biggest long-term storage concern is pests. Rice requires some ventilation to keep it from spoiling (unlike most foods, which should be stored in airtight containers).
Allowing for ventilation, if not done properly, can also allow bugs and pests in. When rice gets hot, it sweats, and pests are drawn to warm and moist conditions to build nests and lay eggs. While pests are a concern, using proper storage techniques will help minimize this risk.
When storing your rice for the long term, you also have to consider mold and how to prevent mold growth from ultimately damaging your rice storage. Mold can quickly turn dry rice into green-colored much. For the mold to grow and thrive, it needs an organic material as its food source, warmth, moisture, and oxygen. So, when you remove these essential things that encourage mold, you are preventing your rice from spoiling.
Since the rice is the organic material that mold will use as its food source, you obviously can’t eliminate that aspect. When you purchase rice, it is dry, and there is minimal moisture. However, as it sits where the humidity and room temperature remains high for some time, the rice will begin absorbing the moisture and can likely grow mold.
So, the best plan of action to prevent mold is to control the temperature and humidity levels in the storage area.
What Type of Rice Should I Store?
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You can store any kind of rice, but not all types of rice are created equal in terms of storability and long shelf life.
Instant rice cannot be stored as long as regular rice. Most instant rice comes marked with an expiration date, which is typically less than two years.
Brown rice is known for its health benefits compared to white rice, but white rice takes longer to go bad. When stored properly, white rice can last for up to 30 years.
How to Store Rice for Best Long-Term Results
There are a few things to consider when preparing your rice for long-term storage.
Be sure that your container is clean and dry, as you don’t want your rice to absorb any smells, liquid, or residue. It is very important to use proper containers for storing any food item, and different types of foods require different storage containers.
Your best option is to use a food-grade plastic container (if you are worried about the chemicals in plastic seeping into your food, there are plenty of options that are certified BPA-free).
It is also best to purchase a container that is designed specifically for rice storage, because again, unlike most food storage, the seal of your lid should not be totally airtight. Rice needs oxygen to last, so if you can’t find the right container, invest in a lot of the next item.
Food grade buckets can be used to store your rice long term and can even be stacked up so you can save some space in storage. The plastic buckets keep everything out, and the container’s contents dry. So, even if the plastic buckets were sitting in a few inches of water, the contents would remain intact.
You know those tiny packets that look like sugar packets only smaller that you find in some food packages, or even handbags and other leather goods? These are oxygen absorbers, and they contain minerals like iron or Vitamin C that quickly absorb any oxygen.
It is important to note that not all oxygen absorbers are the same. Some are designed for dry goods, and others are for moist goods. Be sure when you are purchasing them, you choose oxygen absorbers designed for rice or dry goods.
Mylar bags are best known for their ability to block oxygen, which reduces oxidation in whatever is being stored inside of one. So, if you were to properly store a bag of rice inside a mylar bag with an addition of oxygen absorber packets, the rice can store easily for up to 10 to 20 years.
When using this method to store the rice, it all comes down to the packaging, and that is what is going to ensure the longevity of your stored rice. You don’t want to store brown rice in mylar bags, however, because the oils may leak out of the rice and then begin to turn rancid over time.
Order the thickest mylar bags you can find when you plan on using them for food storage. When the bags are too thin, it is too easy for holes and punctures. You should also look for mylar bags with flat bottoms, so they don’t fall over and spill the contents all over the place.
Storing Rice in the Freezer
If you only have a small amount of rice that you want to find long term storage for, then you can consider storing it in the freezer. However, keep in mind that this option won’t work if you expect the power to go out during a disaster or your freezer stops working. These are things to take into consideration if you choose a freezer storage method.
On the other hand, if it is just a small amount, storing rice in a sealed container in the freezer is a good way to keep dust and contaminants out as well as bugs and other pests. You can also place the rice in its original packaging inside of a resealable heavy-duty freezer bag.
It is best to store rice at or just below 40° Fahrenheit. At this temperature, rice can last the longest, for a maximum time of 25-30 years.
It is possible to store rice at 70° Fahrenheit, but this requires enough oxygen absorber packets to keep the rice from sweating, which allows the rice to spoil or creates a welcome environment for pests.
Rice stored at a temperature of 70° won’t last as long as rice stored at a temperature of 40°; rice stored in a 70° temperature can only last up to 10 years.
Can You Store Cooked Rice Long Term?
If you made rice and have a lot leftover, you need to take care of it within a few hours. Cooked rice can make you sick if it is not stored properly. First, allow the cooked rice to cool quickly. The moisture content of cooked rice is high and can quickly turn into a breeding ground for bacteria if you leave it at room temperature for more than two hours.
Next, place the cooked rice in a food-grade container and place it in the refrigerator. When properly stored, cooked rice can stay fresh in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 days. You can also choose to place the rice into heavy-duty freezer bags. You will find that its best quality can last up to six months this way.
If the cooked rice has a bad smell and there is an unusual appearance, then you want to discard the rice right away.
Now you know the basics of everything you need to store rice for several decades.