Rice is one of the best survival foods out there, and with good reason. But as packaged, rice can easily spoil which leaves you vulnerable to an unexpected emergency. This is why it’s critical to know how to store rice long term.
The main concern is that normally rice comes in a bag that is not best-suited for long term storage. Rodents can easily gnaw through your bag of rice, making a treat of your stockpile. Moisture can also seep in quite easily, especially if you leave your rice on the floor. This leaves you with moldy rice that is inedible.
In this article, we’ll talk about why to store rice and best containers for storing rice long term.
Why Store Rice?
According to Utah State University, families should store 25-60 pounds of grains per person per year. But why? Well grains like rice have many characteristics that makes it an ideal food for long-term storage: it’s nutritious, easy to store, and one of the most cost effective sources of calories and carbohydrates out there.
Let’s do the math. A pound of rice is about 600 calories, and you can usually buy rice at a $0.50 per pound. You are basically paying $1 for 1200 calories. . In a SHTF scenario, you’ll need about 1,200 calories a day to maintain your health, which means you’ll get your needed calories on less than $1 a day.
Rice also complements other staples of food storage such as canned beans, canned chicken, and canned tuna. In this way you can ensure you will be getting a varied nutritional profile. However, unlike these canned foods, which typically have a ton of preservatives and added salts, rice can be stored long-term without additives.
Fundamentals of Storing Rice
In order to successfully store rice, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind. First, you’ll want to think about what your goals are with rice storage. Are you simply looking for some backup food in case of temporary emergency or are you preparing for the Zombie apocalypse?
The answer to this question will determine what kind of containers you will use and how you store your rice. But other than that, there are some simple fundamentals you should always keep in mind when storing your rice. They include:
- Keep your rice in a cool, dry location. The best temperature is 40 degrees or below, although temperatures up to 70 degrees is fine.
- The two biggest enemies to successful rice storage are moisture and oxygen. This is why you want dry rice and containers that are resistant to moisture and air tight.
- Always inspect your rice before you store it for insects or potential discoloration.
As long as you keep these basic principles in mind, you’ll be well prepared to store rice for the long run.
Best type of rice for long term storage
When you buy rice keep in mind that there is a big difference between white and brown rice. Although brown rice contains a better nutrition profile, it unfortunately does not last as long as white rice, usually less than 6 months. This is due to the oils in the bran of brown rice.
If you wanted to store brown rice, I’d probably do it in mason jars and just rotate regularly. It is not conducive for long-term storage in 30 or 50 gallon containers.
Anyway now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s talk about the best containers for storing your white rice for the long term.
Best containers to store rice
There are numerous containers you can use that would extend your rice’s shelf-life. The most common options for long term storage are food grade buckets, mason jars, and #10 cans. Some people also like using Vittles Vaults, which come with gamma lids, although I’ve never done so myself.
The type of container you use will depend on how much rice you want to store and how much space you have for storage. For small amounts of rice to get you through a minor crisis, glass jars and #10 cans will be more than sufficient. For longer term crises, you may consider food grade buckets or 50 pound stackable Vittles Vaults. For Vittles vaults, you can go with 50 pounders, which is 550 servings of rice.
*Pro Tip: Before you put your rice in a long-term storage container, you want to freeze your rice for at least 48 hours. Why? Well you want to kill any insect eggs or larvae. I’ve heard many horror stories from fellow preppers about finding bugs or even moths in their rice. All because they missed this critical step.
#10 cans are a versatile and tried-and-true method of storing food long-term. If you go with #10 cans, expect to hold about 5 pounds of rice, or about 55 servings. Here is a good tutorial on just how to store your rice with #10 cans.
Food Grade Buckets
Food grade buckets without BPA are a fantastic option for long term rice storage. A good bucket should be air tight and protect your food from rodents, critters, and bugs.
As an added caution, you might want to consider using a Gamma seal lid with your buckets. They not only provide protection for your food, but they are much easier to open than standard lids.
When you use food grade buckets, just remember to freeze your rice for 48 hours. In conjunction with your use of oxygen absorbers, this will ensure that you won’t encounter any nasty surprises when you eventually open up your rice.
If you follow these steps, using mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, this will give your rice a shelf life of 25-30 years.
If you’re looking for a more modest amount of rice to store, mason jars are perfect. It is a great “grab and go” option if you have to get out of Dodge quickly.
Each mason jar should hold about 4 cups, or 8 servings of rice. In other words, think of each mason jar as being able to provide enough rice to feed your entire family for one meal.
Storing rice is one of the smartest things to do as a prepper: it’s nutritious and surprisingly easy to store. Done correctly, your rice should last 25 to 30 years and be free of unwelcome bugs.
Just make sure you follow the steps above on how to store rice correctly. The last thing you want is to do is buy tons of rice and buckets only to miss a key step, like freezing your rice or adding oxygen absorbers.