When looking for foods that have naturally long shelf life and a wide variety of uses, look no further than rice.
Rice has an almost endless list of possible uses. They range from breakfast all the way to dessert. Rice is also a great staple to have on hand to stretch other foods further.
While rice can be stored for a while in the bags in which it is sold, there are some easy steps you can take to prolong its shelf life exponentially.
Read on to learn more about how to store rice long term!
Why Learn How to Store Rice?
Whether you are looking to become completely self-sufficient, want to live off the grid, or are just looking for a way to be prepared and save some money along the way, a stockpile of rice is important!
It is important to know how to store rice so the investment you make into bulk rice will not go to waste.
If you were to just toss the bag of rice you brought home from the store into your pantry, it could last two years.
However, if you take time to learn how to store rice properly, it could essentially last indefinitely—at least 30 years!
History of Storing Rice
The history of rice can be traced back to Asia as far back as 7000-5000 BCE. Because food instability was such an issue due to droughts, floods, and other natural elements, the ancient Chinese people took storing rice seriously.
In their culture, when they were deciding how to store rice, they knew that they needed at least nine years’ worth of rice. They would start getting nervous if their stockpiles got down to only seven years’ worth of rice.
If they ever got to only three years worth of rice, they felt as if they were in trouble. Since they were looking to store rice for such long periods of time, they had the issue of how to store rice figured out!
Ancient Chinese cultures mainly stored rice in community granaries. These granaries were made out of pottery and were created to seal up, so pests and moisture were unable to get to the rice and spoil it.
There were also private collections that were stored in wooden boxes that could seal tightly and be stacked and easily transported if necessary.
While our methods have certainly improved over the years, many of the basic principles of how to store rice are still the same today!
What’s the Best Type of Rice to Store Long Term?
When learning how to store rice, it is important to know that not all rice is created equally.
There are important differences between white rice and brown rice.
White rice and brown right start as the same grain, but white rice is further processed, or “polished,” and the outer layer comes off.
The outer layer of a grain of rice is called “bran,” and brown rice is simply white rice with the bran still on the outside.
The bran is what makes white and brown rice store differently.
The bran on brown rice contains oils that can go rancid or spoil, meaning it’s much easier for them to go bad in long-term storage.
White rice of any kind–basmati, jasmine, long grain, short grain, etc.–is best for storing long term.
The Best Methods for Long Term Rice Storage
There are several different ways you can choose from when it comes to how to store rice. Pick the one that works best for you and your circumstances (budget, storage space, etc.).
Storing rice in a five-gallon bucket is a cost-effective way to store rice long term.
Supplies you need:
Food-safe five-gallon bucket— Make sure to get a food-safe bucket because you do not want unsafe dyes or chemicals leaching into your rice from a bucket not meant to store food. You can easily find these online or possibly through a local grocery store or bakery.
Mylar bags— Mylar bags are going to act as an extra moisture barrier. Moisture is really the biggest enemy of long-term rice storage. So, if you are looking to ensure your rice’s quality, you’re going to want to include a mylar bag.
Iron– You will need an iron to seal your mylar bag shut.
Oxygen absorbers— It is important to add these because they ensure the freshness of your rice.
To store your rice in a bucket, simply insert the mylar bag into the bucket, add your rice and oxygen absorbers, seal the mylar bag with the iron, and put the lid on the bucket. It’s that simple!
Each five-gallon bucket can hold up to 35 pounds of rice, so keep that in mind when filling them. You may not want to fill it up all the way if 35 pounds is too heavy for you to move easily.
Keep your stacks of five-gallon buckets to three or fewer. If any higher, it may be dangerous to try to reach the top one or move them around if necessary.
2. Mylar Bags
If you don’t have enough vertical space to hold five-gallon buckets, skip the buckets and simply use mylar bags!
Make sure to add oxygen absorbers to your mylar bags before sealing them.
Place the sealed bags in a cool, dry, dark space—think basement, pantry, or garage— and you’ll have fresh rice for up to 30 years!
Make sure the bags are up and off the floor to keep them safe and dry from any big spills or flooding.
3. Glass Jars
If you’re tight on money and are looking for how to store rice with what you’ve already got, glass jars are a great option for you!
Mason jars work really well if you have got them readily available, but repurposed pasta sauce, salsa, or pickle jars can work, too.
Glass is naturally air and water-tight and is impossible for pests to get in. It’s important to note that glass is breakable, so this may not be the best solution for the bulk of your long-term storage.
4. Vacuum Sealing
Vacuum sealing is a super simple way to store rice semi-long term. It won’t get you the 30 years of shelf life that a bucket with a mylar bag will, but it will extend white rice’s shelf life substantially.
One really nice thing about storing rice in vacuum seal bags is the simplicity of it. You can simply put the rice into the bags in its original packaging, which means you’ll be able to easily and quickly see just how much rice is in each pack.
While this method does rely on electricity while the others do not, it’s still worth mentioning because it’s a great solution for brown rice.
Simply put your uncooked rice in freezer bags, get out all the air, and pop the bag of rice in your fridge.
Freezing uncooked brown rice will make it last up to two years instead of just six months!
What About Bugs?
Every one of the methods above should prevent any new bugs from getting to your rice and kill any eggs or larvae present when stored. Bugs need oxygen to survive, and all of these methods will deprive them of that.
How to Cook/Use Stored Rice
Did you know that over half of the world’s population relies on rice as the majority of their diet? This food is inexpensive and a great filler in many delicious meals.
Here are a few recipes to try out with other ingredients that can easily be stored long-term.
Rice can also be used as porridge for breakfast, pudding for dessert, and many other things in between!
Wrapping Up How to Store Rice
Whether you choose to use buckets, bags, jars, or Ziplocs, there are plenty of options of how to store rice. One of them is sure to leave you with years and years of usable, delicious, nutritious rice!
For more information about stockpiling and becoming self-sustaining, make sure to visit our page all about survival food.