Long Term Storage Instructions for Pasta and Other Carbohydrates

Chefbear is back and this time he’s going to tell us how to store pasta and other carbs for the long term.  My wife stored some pasta in the cellar recently in a food grade five gallon bucket and I got to wondering how long it would be good for.  So of course I fired up the ol’ laptop and shot a message off to Chefbear to see what he had to say about storing pasta.  As usual he came through and added a lot of extra knowledge that I felt compelled to share with my SHTF homies.  Thanks again, Chefbear!


Hello again folks, so I was conversing with Jarhead via email and he suggested an article about pasta. I thought about it for a few minutes, and then I get a call from my girlfriend asking me what the shelf life of dried pasta is. When I inquired as to why she wanted to know, she told me she was trying to fix dinner and about the only thing they had in the pantry was a single box of, believe it or not… HBO pasta with “Soprano’s” shapes, she then told me that she had never seen it before, the box was unopened and COVERED with dust, the use by date was 11/04 (if I remember correctly)! Aside from the fact that I realized next time I visit my girl, I am taking her to the grocery store and filling the cabinets/fridge to maximum capacity, I also got to contemplating that *MOST* folks have no concept of what is an OK amount of time to store dried carbohydrates. Thus here we are, and I am going to cover in this article not only how to spot when your dried complex carbohydrates need to be disposed of, but also proper storing of these items and I think I will throw in a simple yet tasty recipe or two for you! I might also work in some other relevant info, so let’s see what we can come up with!

First off let’s discuss storage. Like many of the other storage items we have discussed over the last few months, the IDEAL conditions for rice, pasta, dried potatoes, and even grains/flour are #1 a DRY location with little or no exposure to humidity #2 a dark location, such as in a pantry or cabinet #3 a cool location, room temperature is OK, avoid a pantry that is near your water-heater or indoor A/C unit (air-handler) #4 Keep pests (i.e. insects, rodents, ect.) away from your foodstuffs as much as possible, while it is true you can never be 100% free of pests, unless you want to invest in the equipment and energy needed to maintain a “clean room” environment, chances are that’s not an option for you at least I know it is well beyond my means! Take simple precautions to avoid pests, like not leaving out exposed food sources, inspect for their presence (i.e. scat, damage to containers/walls/doors, trails, ect.), and if you find signs of them use traps before you resort to chemical warfare! Like many dried foodstuffs that are low in protein and fat, the shelf life of pasta and rice increases dramatically when stored properly. While there is usually a “use by” date printed on the package, pasta and rice will keep in ideal conditions almost indefinitely. We are talking the possibility of YEARS beyond what the manufacturer recommends! The big things to look for when you think the items (using rice and pasta as the example) are no longer good to eat are discoloration, unusual texture and an “off” smell. The latter of which is the least likely to occur, because it’s a dry product. The best way to determine if pasta or rice is still good is the color/texture. If the pasta usually has a pale yellow color, but your older stuff has white marks forming on the surface, chances are it’s time to get rid of the stuff you have and replace it. If the pasta usually has a very hard texture and is in tight little strands (spaghetti) that look like sticks, but yours seems to be crumbling at the edges, YEP it’s time to re-supply! Rice is a little trickier to spot, especially brown rice, so we will stick to white rice here. If the white rice has a yellow or dark “hazy” sort of color to it or if it looks “dusty” or “dirty”, then you should probably replace it. However, you could still cook it up and mix it into your dogs food, or use it to bait a trap!rice

I like to take old rice, especially the “instant”/”minute” stuff to get sluggish, early spring Crappie to start biting like CRAZY! All you need is a paper lunch bag, some twine (I like butchers twine) or heavy fishing line and a stone (roughly 10-16 oz). Place the stone in the bottom of the brown paper bag, put about a cup of the rice into the bag, then just tie off the bottom of the bag with the twine/fishing line. When you find a good spot that might be hiding shoals of Crappie or other pan-fish, like an over-hang or drop-off in a lake/pond/river, or even just a spot where there is a tree or some other structure down in the water; Toss the bag in close enough to the structure so the fish can see what comes out, and as deep as possible (after tying the other end of the line onto your wrist/tackle box/tree branch), let it sit for about 10 minutes so that the paper gets nice and soft, and the bag is sure to be resting on the bottom. When you are ready, just give the line a hard, swift tug. The bag should rip open, then the rice will start to float up from the bottom, the fish see these little white things floating up to the surface and think that an insect nest has burst, to them this means it’s feeding time! Use your favorite pole to toss in a small spoon lure, a small white artificial grub, a hook with a piece of worm/grub/cricket/grasshopper/a shiner (minnow), or even a bare gold/red/silver hook… They will tear up anything that catches their eye, and your chances of catching some dinner GREATLY improve!

OK… enough of one of my favorite outdoor activities (I LOVE FISHIN’!!!!)…. Back on track.

The single best thing you can do to ensure your dried complex carbohydrates are fresh and tasty, is to rotate them periodically. Honestly, this is probably the biggest challenge to me, I always seem to have my ADD kick-in when I am about to write the product/date on my storage chart…………….. Sorry there was something shiny on the other side of the room that caught my attention!

So now that we have covered proper storage, how to visually inspect your stores, and even how to use the stuff you would otherwise toss… let’s talk cooking! However, I am gonna switch-it-up and use one of my favorite dried carbohydrates, I am talking about dried “hash browns”. You can find these in what looks like a giant school milk carton at almost any bulk food store, and they have a great shelf life and taste! I usually buy a carton (~3lbs) for about $4!

You will need:

-2 cups shredded, dried hash browns – ½ cup sliced dried onion/shallot (shallot tastes better)

-3-4 cups boiling water or stock(to rehydrate) – 3-4 oz cream cheese/sour cream (whatever you like)

– 8-10oz shredded cheese (freeze-dried will work, rehydrate by manufacturers directions) -2oz butter

-6-8 strips bacon, cooked, chopped – ~2 tsp poultry seasoning, salt & pepper to taste, non stick spray

Rehydrate the potatoes and onions/shallots with the boiling liquid; add in the butter and seasonings and mix well being careful to maintain the texture of the potatoes; stir in the cream cheese/sour cream; add in ½ of the cheese and bacon; spray the bottom of a casserole dish, or grease your cast iron skillet/Dutch oven; place the mixture into the casserole pan –OR- preheat the cast iron cookware over med-low heat and then add in the mixture; top with the rest of the cheese and bacon pieces; BAKE @ 375F until the center is hot, potatoes are cooked through but not mushy, and the cheese on top is melted and slightly golden brown; If you are using a Dutch oven, cook over hot coals until the same result is achieved, be careful not to burn the edges, you may need to check the edges a few times and remove from the coals for a few minutes, then add it back to the fire if needed

This recipe is called “Hash Brown Casserole”, or in my house everyone calls it “Heart Attack Casserole”. If you don’t have dried hash browns (you should because they are a cheap and long lasting, tasty source of nutrition) you can use fresh potatoes, or even rice. It goes really well with game, beef, pork, chicken, eggs or just about anything else you can think of! The best part is that it’s easy and quick to prepare!

As usual, if you guys have any questions for me (even if it’s about the fishing stuff or my ADD), just ask them in the comments section and I will answer them. Hope you guys like the article, sorry for the “filler”, but there’s just not a whole lot to checking the freshness of dried goods! Thanks Jarhead & Ranger Man!

photos by:

Javier Lastras

-Jarhead Survivor


Chefbear isn’t the only one who can whip up a slammin’ meal.  Check out this Youtube video of Clara cooking a Depression meal called, “The Poorman’s Meal.”  I’ve made this and it’s delicious.   Plus she has some interesting stories about the Depression while she cooks.

Clara cooks the Poorman’s Meal

7 comments… add one
  • Jason March 7, 2011, 12:55 pm

    First off, I’d like to suggest that SHTF Blog consider having ChefBear do a weekly article about food prepping and a featured recipe, maybe geared towards the minimalist bend. Like this post, the information he provides is excellent, pertinent & he laces in an appealing sense of energy, keeping a view of life on the half full side.

    As the stresses of the current times continue pressing down on all of us, exposing the failures of a life of excess – which hits every economic strata, I believe it is important to grab life for what it is not what Charlie Sheen deems as fair & reasonable! Excuse me while I step outside to puke.

    My attraction to survivalist blogs is to learn exactly that – how to make do with less & eventually become completely self-sufficient, to me, the ultimate engineering feat. Whatever happens in the world becomes nearly irrelevant once you achieve the ability to self support with the essentials of life. (Does that help you Jarhead?)

    For many years I associated with friends who lived through the Depression & would spend hours with talking about how to make something from what was simply laying around. A very good friend, Joe Corey, taught me how to tie all kinds of knots in ropes that were easily undone, make a mulch pit – he could literally throw a tomato down on the mulch dirt, do nothing but very little water & grow incredible tomatoes. He made tools, made things last, created very little trash and at the ripe old age of 77 (1995) he built our 10 yard concrete slab – that’s one full truck load, barely breaking a sweat plus, he graded the dirt & bent & tied all of the rebar steel prior to.

    Similar to the incorporated Clara YouTube, that information & mindset is invaluable & a lost art.

    Chef – great fishing tip, my 18 year old son will love it. He got me hooked (pardon the pun) on fishing & hunting when he was 9 as I was looking for a break from the concrete jungle and he had been reading – on his own, about hunting, fishing & survivalism … strange kid, ha-ha.

    Question for you:

    Can you handle your ADD without pharmaceuticals?

    I am 56, grew up with a learning disability – ADHD, which accounted for some of the hell & torture in my life. They had no idea what it was back then. I was a gifted athlete (given a scholarship at 15 years old to major university after I graduated high school), very strong mathematically but barely passed the easy subjects & I mean barely.

    I was diagnosed with ADD 5 years ago and my life completely changed and began to make sense for once. They tried all of the usual assortment of drugs but I could not tolerate the altered state. One of the doctors I saw gave me a few books and exercises to try and they worked. By the way, both doctors (experts with ADD) said you grow out of the H part as you age, still trying to figure when that age applies!

    BTW Chef – Heart attack casserole is a gross understatement! Why is it that everything that tastes so damn good has to be so bad for you or at least me?

    • ChefBear58 March 7, 2011, 9:22 pm

      Thank you Jason.
      I got started in fishing/hunting, because I would spend summers with my Grandfather and Uncle while my dad was on TDY all over the world. My grandfather is the one who really got me addicted to fishing, he started me with salt-water, and even used to take me freshwater fishing in the Florida everglades, and I have been fishing EVERY chance I get since then!

      I was originally diagnosed with ADHD, which has developed into ADD over the years. I have found that it actually has some benefits in a professional kitchen… For example it actually makes it easier for me to multi-tast, which I assume is because I am used to having my attention divided in several different directions.

      I haven’t taken medications to regulate my symptoms since I was about 12 years old. I have found that a heavy exercise program helps, it will help develop better focus and burn off excess energy/stress. Regular reading seems to help to, by sitting with little/no distractions and trying to direct all of my attention/focus on reading, it helps me to block out things which helps in everyday life. I have noticed that taking a multi-vitamin, and eating a lean protein and “good” carbohydrate diet has been beneficial as well. I stopped taking the medications the doctors gave me because I couldn’t/didn’t want to deal with the side effects. For me, most of them made me a lot more aggressive or made me feel like my heart was going to beat out of my chest!

  • Prepared N.D. March 7, 2011, 3:11 pm

    Good job Chef! What about egg noodles and potato flakes?

    • ChefBear58 March 7, 2011, 9:31 pm

      The good news is that the storage for both of these items is the same as what I mentioned in the article. The egg noodles will show similar signs to the pasta when it is “past it’s prime”. The potao flakes are harder to tell, because they are cooked, dried and smashed potatoes, you really will have to cook up a sample batch to be sure there are no weird flavors/smells. The good news is that the potato flakes will last just about forever, if stored properly.

    • Jason March 8, 2011, 12:34 am

      Hey PND,

      How about potato noodles with corn flakes?

  • Joerocker March 7, 2011, 8:47 pm

    Thanks again, great info.

    • ChefBear58 March 7, 2011, 9:32 pm

      You’re welcome, thanks for reading!


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