White rice is one of the most suitable foods for long-term storage. Keep it in airtight packaging in a cool and dry place and it will last multiple decades and even indefinitely.
How do you store rice long-term? There are multiple methods for storing rice long-term. Mylar bags provide the longest shelf life for white rice—up to 30 years. Other methods include storing rice in food-grade buckets, bottles, and #10 cans.
This article is a comprehensive guide for long-term rice storage. Continue reading to learn why storing rice long-term is a good idea, and how to do it right.
Does Rice Go Bad?
Rice is one of the foods with the longest life span. Regular white rice can last up to 5 years in the pantry if stored properly. Rice may quickly go bad if exposed to moisture, humidity, or affected by bugs or rodents.
If you store rice following all of the long-term rice storage rules, this grain will last even a few decades.
General Rice Storage Rules
Whether you are storing rice short-term or long-term, there are a few storage rules to follow to preserve the quality of the grain.
Firstly, you should store rice in an airtight container. This will keep the rice free of dust as well as prevent pests from getting into the container.
To make sure there are no bugs around your rice containers, put a couple of bay leaves in them. Cleaning the storage area regularly is another measure you should take to ensure a bug-free environment for your grains.
Keep the rice in its original packaging only when it is unopened and not damaged.
Secondly, keep the container away from moisture. Even a few drops of water into the container with rice will make it go bad sooner.
Lastly, store rice containers in a cool room, pantry, or kitchen cupboard. Minimal exposure to light is another thing that contributes to the long shelf life of the gain.
Depending on your living area, you may also need to protect your rice and other grains from rodents.
Why Store Rice Long Term?
Rice is one of the most suitable foods for long-term storage. Foods that work best for long-term storage are the ones that have very low moisture and oil content.
If the water content is higher than 10%, the food will soon get moldy. And if it’s high in oil it will get rancid quickly.
So, white dry rice is the perfect food to store in large amounts for emergencies. Rice is satiating, and cooking it is easy. If you have access to boiling water or microwave, cooking rice is a matter of minutes.
Another quality that makes rice a suitable food to stock up on is its affordability. Thus, if you see your favorite white rice on sale at your local supermarket, consider buying it in bulk and storing it long-term.
You may think that it is easier to purchase pre-made canned food. Canned food is easier to store and all you have to do is open the can and start eating. But these foods are typically loaded with preservatives while rice is not.
Stocking up only on frozen food for emergencies is not a good idea too as you may not always have access to electricity during such situations.
How To Store Rice Long Term
There are different methods for storing rice-long term. Depending on how many years you want the rice to last, you can choose from the following types of containers and storage methods.
Mylar bags are pouches made from food-grade materials—plastic and aluminum. They are often referred to as foil pouches because of how they look.
But don’t be alarmed at the aluminum in these bags. It won’t react with food thanks to the plastic lining.
These bags create a barrier between the food and the environment, protecting it from light and oxygen.
When buying mylar bags for long-term food storage, it is important to opt for the highest quality ones. This way you will be sure that your food remains safe for consumption for many years.
Mylar bags come in different sizes. They also come in a set with oxygen absorbers and are very easy to use. All you need is a regular clothes iron to secure the food in these foil pouches.
Storing rice in mylar bags provides the longest shelf life for this grain. If you use mylar bags properly, they can make the rice last up to 30 years.
Plastic buckets are an easy way for bulk food storage. They can extend the shelf of rice up to 10 years if you provide the needed temperature in the storage room as well as using oxygen absorbers.
When using a plastic bucket for long-term rice storage, make sure it has a tight lid and is food-grade. Never use plastic buckets that aren’t meant for storing food and aren’t food-grade certified.
It is best to use plastic buckets for long-term storage to store food that is already packaged.
If you do decide to use plastic buckets to store rice and other dry goods long-term, remember to keep them off the floor. Also, if the buckets are big and heavy, don’t stack them as you may break the lids.
Check the buckets for cracks and overall integrity from time to time to make sure they are still airtight.
Plastic bottles with a screw top are also a good option for storing rice and legumes. Only use bottles that are labeled as PET or PETE. Never clean and use plastic bottles that previously contained non-food liquids.
If you are planning to store a lot of rice long-term, don’t throw away your juice and soda bottles. Clean them properly, let them air dry for a few days, and transfer the rice into these bottles.
Make sure to close the lid tightly to prevent oxygen from getting into the bottles. You can also secure the lids with tape.
Use oxygen absorbers to make rice and other grains last for up to 10 years in plastic bottles.
Number 10 cans are another container option for long-term rice storage. These metal cans have an enamel-coated interior that doesn’t react with food.
They also provide an airtight and moisture-free environment for rice and any other food you choose to store in them.
A single #10 can holds 12.5 cups of rice which is a convenient amount both for large and small families. These cans are also very durable and can significantly extend the shelf life of rice making it last 10 years and longer.
The only disadvantage of #10 cans is that you need a manual or motorized can sealer to seal these metal containers. Additionally, though these cans are corrosion-resistant, you should still avoid keeping them anywhere humid.
Once you open a #10 can to use the rice stored in it, you can repurpose the can.
How To Store Rice For Up To 30 Years
To make rice last three decades and longer, the best long-term storage method to opt for are mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.
In fact, these foil pouches are the best storage method for any dry goods you want to store in bulk or for emergency situations.
If you have decided to store rice long-term in mylar bags, take your time to buy good ones. It is best to buy 5-7 mil mylar bags for storing rice and other dry goods.
As Myler bags come in different sizes, buy bags of the size that meet your needs. If you want to package the rice in smaller foil pouches but don’t seem to find them, buy large ones and cut them into your desired size.
You can easily seal the edges of the bag with an iron.
Any iron will work for sealing mylar bags—a clothes iron, a flat iron, or a hair straightener. If you happen to have an impulse sealer, go ahead and use it as it will make the process a lot easier.
How To Store Rice In Myler Bags Long-Term
So, how do you store rice in mylar bags so that they last up to 30 years and even indefinitely? Here are the step-by-step instructions:
- Divide the rice into portions. When doing this, consider the size of your mylar bags.
- Fill the myler bags with rice. Make sure to not fill them all the way to the top as you still need to seal the bags.
- Push out the excess air and seal the open edge using your flat iron or any heat sealer you have at hand.
- Label the bag with the date, as well as the type and amount of rice you have in it.
- Close the bucket with the lid and keep it in a cool and dry place.
Which Rice Is Best For Long-Term Storage?
While rice is one of the best foods to store long-term, you should know that not all types of rice last indefinitely.
White rice varieties, including basmati, Arborio, and jasmine rice, are the most suitable rice varieties for long-term storage.
Brown rice is healthier than white rice. It is a whole grain. Unlike white rice that has the bran and the germ removed, brown rice contains all the nutritious parts of the grain.
But this is exactly the reason why brown rice doesn’t have as long of a shelf life as white rice. The oil content in dry brown rice is higher which makes it go rancid sooner.
So, brown rice is not a suitable rice variety for long-term storage. And so are purple and black rice.
As for instant rice, you can store it long-term in hermetic containers or mylar bags. But make sure you are buying the instant rice from a brand that doesn’t use preservatives.
How To Store Brown Rice Long-Term
So, brown rice doesn’t last as long as white rice. But what is the best way to store this rice variety long-term if you have purchased too many bags of your favorite brown rice?
To provide the maximum lifespan for brown rice you need to freeze it. Freezing slows down the process of the oils in rice going rancid.
Brown rice stored in the freezer will keep well for 12-18 months and even longer if the temperature of your freezer is always at 0°F.
This is much longer compared to the 6-month lifespan of brown rice stored at room temperature.
You can freeze the rice in its original packaging if it is undamaged and airtight. If opened, transfer the brown rice into airtight containers or bags. Freezing rice in zip-top bags is more convenient as you can flatten them and save storage space.
How Can You Tell When Rice Has Gone Bad?
If you have provided all the necessary storage conditions for dry rice, hardly you will see it going bad.
And still, whether you have opened a container for long-term rice storage or a bag of rice you have just purchased from the supermarket, check it for signs of spoilage before using it.
Here are some signs that rice has gone bad.
Bugs in dry rice are one of the most common reasons why you might need to discard it. It is quite easy to notice them in the rice.
When it comes to these harmful creatures, know that they don’t always get into the rice after you bring it home.
There may be eggs in the bag of rice when you buy it. You can’t see these eggs at first. After some time, when the rice has been sitting in the pantry for a few months, the eggs develop into small bugs.
It is a common practice to keep a newly-purchased bag of rice in the freezer for a couple of days and only then transfer it into long or short-term storage containers. Freezing kills any eggs that may be in the rice.
The water content in rice is very low. Thus, it may get moldy if water gets into a bucket of rice or you keep the container with rice in a humid environment. In any case, if you see mold in the container with rice, it is best to discard it.
An off-putting and rancid smell is a sign of spoilage for brown rice. When the oil in brown rice starts to go bad, the rice acquires foul rancid odors, an oily texture, as well as suffers discoloration.
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