So, I get a call from my girlfriend asking me what the shelf life of dried pasta is. When I asled why she wanted to know, she said 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 said she had never seen it before. The box was unopened and COVERED with dust, the use by date was seven years prior (if I remember correctly)! Aside from the fact that I needed to take her to the grocery store and fill the cabinets, I also got to realizing that many people have no concept of what is an OK amount of time for long-term pasta storage.
by Chef Bear, a prepper and chef
Thus, here we are. I am going to cover not only how to determine when pasta or rice has gone bad, but also proper long-term storage. I will also throw in a great survival fishing tip for you!
Long-Term Pasta Storage
First off let’s discuss storage.The IDEAL conditions for rice, pasta, dried potatoes, and even grains/flour are:
- A dry location with little or no exposure to humidity.
- A dark location, such as in a pantry or cabinet.
- A cool location. Room temperature is OK. Avoid a pantry that is near your water-heater or indoor A/C unit (air-handler).
- Pest-free containers (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, take simple precautions to avoid pests. Don’t leave exposed foods out. Inspect for presence of pests (i.e. scat, damage to containers/walls/doors, trails, etc.). 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 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 pasta or rice are no longer good 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, it’s time to re-supply!
Long-Term Pasta Storage – Super Level
Want to take your long-term pasta storage to a whole new level!? You can eliminate any chance of air getting to your pasta buy using something like the GERYON Vacuum Sealer and sucking out all air. Throw some desiccants into the bag before sealing and you’re at a super-duper ridiculous level of long-term pasta storage.
Spotting Old Rice
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!
Using Old Rice for Survival Fishing
I like to take old rice, especially the instant/minute stuff to get sluggish, fishing for early spring Crappie. They’ll start biting like CRAZY! All you need is a brown paper lunch bag, some twine or heavy fishing line, and a stone (roughly 10-16 oz). Place the stone in the bottom of the bag. Put about a cup of the rice into the bag. Then tie off the bottom of the bag with the twine/fishing line. 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.
Tie the end of line onto your wrist, your tackle box, or something else. Toss the bag in where the fish can see what comes out, and as deep as possible. 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. 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, 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… back on track
Rotating Your Stock of Pasta
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 for 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!