Storing food long-term is Prepping 101, and storing rice long-term is step one. Combined with bean storage, rice is a staple in the list of best foods for long-term storage.
When we make an action convenient – when we eliminate the barriers to a goal being accomplished – we make it that much more likely that the target will end up being met. Even if the barriers are largely imaginary – such as the idea that building up emergency food storage is expensive – eliminating barriers still matters.
This is why rice is a fantastic starting point for those who are new to prepping. Rice can be used to make a family more food-secure in as convenient a manner as possible.
So what are the advantages of rice? Well, let’s take a look…
Why Store Rice
If you’re looking for a long-term food storage item, you can’t go wrong with rice. Rice is cheap, readily available, nutritious, and can be stored for a very long time.
Just one cup of uncooked rice contains 716 calories. This means that you can easily store a calorie-dense meal for disaster purposes with minimal effort on your part. As of this writing, you can get a 10-pound bag of white rice from your local Walmart for roughly $4.60. You can buy a 15-pound bag of the popular Royal Basmati Rice on Amazon for under $30.
- GREAT TASTING: Long and fluffy grain, naturally aromatic and aged over 12 months for the perfect non-sticky texture and a delicate, sweet flavor.
- EASY TO COOK: Rice is ready in about 15-20 minutes and is great for curries, pilafs, stir-fries, or as a side on it’s own.
- NATURALLY SOURCED: Sourced, grown, harvested, and cared for with the highest level of integrity and expertise from local growers in Himalayan regions renowned for producing the finest crops.
A ten-pound bag will give you 100 servings of rice at 160 calories/serving, meaning that 10 pounds of rice will contain 16,000 calories.
That’s a lot of calories for no much money. Prepping doesn’t have to be expensive, see?!
How Rice Was Stored Historically
You know something is good when it’s stood the test of time, and rice is no exception. It’s been eaten by mankind for millennium, and for good reason! Rice is filling, nutritious, and once more, stores very well! This means rice was a vital means to warding off starvation during times of drought or famine throughout history.
And it’s still an incredibly important food crop worldwide. Currently, it’s responsible for about a fifth of all calories consumed worldwide and is the staple food of more than 3 billion people worldwide.
But just how did people in ancient history store rice? Rice, and other grains, were often “solarized” – laid out in the sun to first kill any insects. Then it was stored in earthenware jars or gourds and combined with diatomaceous earth (source). In this manner they could keep rats, bugs, and moisture out of their precious food so that it was safe to eat at a later date.
How Long Can You Store Rice?
Under the correct circumstances, rice can stored for up to 30 years! The key is ensuring that your rice is properly protected from heat, moisture, and pests. If you can do that, you’re going to be good to go.
White rice can store for roughly 4-5 years of its own accord. If you can keep your rice oxygen free, however, you’re looking at roughly 30 years that it can stay safe and good to eat. Remember though, in each and every case you want to store refined white rice.
If you attempt to store any other type of rice long term, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Brown rice has fat present within it, meaning it will quickly grow rancid.
Refined white rice doesn’t have this problem, and thus, that’s what you want for strong rice long-term as a prepper.
How Preppers Store Rice
Preppers are known for storing rice long-term by:
- buying white rice,
- putting it in Mylar bags,
- adding Oxygen absorbers,
- sealing the bag, and
- storing in a cool place.
Let’s look at this process in a bit more detail, but also including shorter storage periods in case you’re not quite preparing for the apocalypse…
Short to Mid-Term
If you’re just looking at having rice available in your pantry for meals throughout the month, all you really need to do is put a bag of it up on the shelves there somewhere, and it should be just fine. Kitchens typically don’t have a moisture problem, and so you could easily see a lifespan of months from keeping rice here. Still…
The best way to store your rice for daily use is to put it in some type of airtight container and away from light.
Alright, so here is where you have to get things somewhat down to a science. For long-term storage, I’m typically thinking of the chance of something bad happening years out into the future. If I live in Taiwan, I’m thinking war. If I’m in Florida, I’m thinking hurricane. Alaska? A logistics-stopping blizzard. I don’t know when trouble is going to strike, maybe I’m prepping for an EMP, but I know want to be ready for some SHTF situation to rear its ugly head.
Buy Your Supplies
Assuming you already have your rice, I would now go out and buy some 5-gallon buckets. While food-grade buckets are the best, I’m not hesitant to use a Lowe’s bucket either, particularly because I’ll be incorporating Mylar bags which will block contact between the rice and the bucket.
The next step would be to invest in some large Mylar bags. Unless you’re using a food-grade 5-gallon bucket, you don’t want your food coming into contact with the plastic.
- 20"x30" Foil lined, 4.3 mil Thick
- Sealable With Hot Iron-Can Reseal After Opening
- Ideal for Long Term Food Storage
Chemicals can be absorbed by the rice and you can end up ingesting stuff you don’t want to/having some funky tasting and smelling rice. Rice is incredibly absorbent, so keep that in mind when you’re considering how you’re going to store it.
Now, you’re going to want some food-safe oxygen absorbers. These are extra insurance that will eliminate any moisture that gets trapped in the bucket after you shut the lid from causing long-term damage to your rice storage.
Next, purchase gamma seal lids either from Lowe’s or from Amazon. Trust me, you do want these. Peeling off a 5-gallon bucket lid is a pain in the butt, and a gamma seal lid makes the process much more enjoyable. Plus, you’re not likely to eat 5-gallons worth of rice in one sitting. You’re going to take a scoop out and then shut your bucket back. A screw-on gamma seal lid makes this whole process convenient and easy.
In addition, a gamma seal lid better seals out moisture from damaging your rice as well. They cost about $10, as of this writing, but they are well worth the peace of mind that they’ll give you should disaster strike.
You have all your supplies! Now all you have to do is put it all together.
Put it All Together
Put your rice inside the Mylar bag. Throw in enough food-safe oxygen absorbers, dispersing them between the bottom, middle, and top of the bag.
Seal your Mylar bag with a clothes iron on the hottest setting. The following image, from Derrick’s article on coffee storage, illustrates how a sealed bag should look after sealed and O2 absorbers are added.
Above, on the right, you see where the bag was sealed with an iron. One day later the oxygen absorbers have sucked what air remained in the bag. Follow the same process when storing rice long-term and you’re good for decades!
Now clamp down your gamma seal lid and screw it on tight.
Voila! You’ve got a long-term solution for rice storage! Not bad, right?
How Much Rice Should You Stock?
According to Utah State University, households should stock 300 pounds of grains/person to end up with a comfortable year’s supply, about 25-60 of which should be rice. This is easily accomplished at a reasonable cost.
With a 50-pound bag per family member (which will set you back $20 per person at Sam’s Club, as of this writing) you’ll be better ensured that your family won’t starve should a disaster hit your area that leaves you without escape. Most certainly, you’re going to want to have other forms of food available to you as well, but rice is not a bad place to start and can easily serve as the foundation for what you’ll be eating throughout that time.
Rice Wrap Up
Storing rice long-term is the perfect entry point for new preppers to begin building up their emergency food supply. Too many people have the notion that prepping is expensive, and that to build up even a month’s worth of food is financially prohibitive.
If such is the case with your family or friends, use rice to show them the truth. It’s hard to beat around seven days’ worth of food with just ten pounds for mere dollars. Yet rice can accomplish this, and as such it makes it a perfect “prepper” food.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Are there other tips or techniques you’d like to add to the conversation? Let us know in the comments below!