Ok so this isn’t going to be as long as some of my other blogs however this will be some good food for thought (Haha see what I did there lol?) this will cover what exactly would last you the longest. So with that being said let’s first cover what exactly will not last long at all.
Now bare in mind this topic will be also addressing if you did NOT have a refrigerator or a freezer so straight up pre-modern era style or let’s say if a SHTF scenario where you were the unlucky poor soul who was not prepared for a doomsday situation but that’s okay sometimes this crap can happen out of no where many would not be ready if something were to happen unexpected. We all know that Raw ground meats, all poultry, seafood, and variety meats can be refrigerated for 2 days and others such as steak maybe a good 3 to 4 days and in a freezer most meats last 2-3 months, however steak, chicken and shellfish being an exception to where they can last at most 12 months or 1 year but unless your willing to hunt for meat and you know how to shoot and preserve your meat then it would actually not be as efficient, now if you had the resources to do so and your good with firearms then that is good but we are more so addressing what could be stored the longest with being obtained the fastest. Fishing might also be very much a pain during the winter but can be easy to do so long as the water is not frozen for catching fish. This is also another acquired skill where you will want to know what fish is good to eat and which are not and if you do not have this skill yet at the time then here are all the other options;
Flour – Anything can be flour if grinded up from wheat to even acorns (Which is gluten free) but on average white flour will last one year if stored at room temperature. Wheat in general if the most efficient thing to grow and we as human beings have been storing this since the ancient era.
Oats – The next best crop would be oats as they can last up to 2 years at most and this is just oats (dried) not oatmeal cooked.
Corn – At room temperature corn will only last up till 3 days, corn without a freezer or refrigerator will not last long unless you own a silo on a farm. That will require special airtight grain storing bins and the capability to only have 15% moisture for your corn. There are many techniques for storing corn as well without a refrigerator or freezer. Farmers have been doing this for a very long time.
Rice – It will vary depending on whether white rice or brown rice, though it is thought white rice will last longer than brown however both last up until 6 months uncooked.
Barley – On average barley can last roughly 2 years at room temperature uncooked, however it is thought it can last 8 years if you buy some from stores and they are not used however this could be from the preservatives added.
Rye – 6 months on average in room temperature uncooked, though this is debatable based on how your storing it.
Flax – 1 year on average the same applies to buckwheat uncooked at room temperature.
So here are my thoughts overall on storing grains, they are without a doubt the type of food you could have that will last you the longest, at bare minimum you want crops that will give you what you need to store through the winter. Airtight bags, and 5 gallon buckets will be your savior should you not have a fridge or freezer. Oddly though it seems grains last longer in this technique vs storing in a refrigerator or freezer, such techniques of food storage can double the shelf life of grains, as for an example boxes of pasta will last and extra 2 years past the best by date, this is thought to be based on how it was stored but it can also be debated on the preservatives. Canned foods if you were to prep out last for a few years past the best by date as well definitely because of the preservatives so for this reason it’s always a good idea to strain the liquid from the can when opening a can of vegetables or fruit.
Fruit & Nuts:
Dried Beans – If not the best thing to put on this list it would be dried beans as they can last 3 to 4 years when stored properly but will begin to lose moisture and possibly nutritional value over 1-2 years of storage.
Peanuts – Due to the fact that peanuts are technically a bean and not a nut I thought I’d give it’s own special section. Though peanuts do work similar to a nut in term of storage as they like many of the nuts can last up to 8 to 10 months after an expired date so I would say if you store them correctly like grains you have a good couple years.
All other nuts will last and average of 6 to 9 months after a best by date or expiry date if you were to buy any from a store however pine nuts will vary and typically will not last as long as other nuts due to it’s higher oil content in it compared to other nuts.
As for soft fruit such as berries contains a lot of acid, which acts as a natural preservative and helps the fruit keep preserved for a long time so to take advantage of this one will need to learn how to can it. The canning method that works best for fruit is called water bath canning. This involves placing the fruit in sanitized jars and heating the jars to a certain temperature to kill off any bacteria. Once the jars are sealed, the canned fruit will last many months. One may also white vinegar to wash fruit with to killed bacteria and spores also before drying them.
In order to store call vegetables efficiently one must learn how to make a root cellar if one does not have a refrigerator or freezer. So what is a root cellar? It is any storage location that uses the earth’s natural cooling, insulating, and humidifying properties. There are many different types of root cellars the most known one to try and make is the old fashioned and classic basement cellar, the Farmer’s Alamac will also give instructions and techniques to make some of these as well as specialty books that can be bought to learn more about this. As an example though if you were use two vents they create will siphon effect that will regulate the flow of cold outside air into an insulated cellar room, allowing the temperature to remain near freezing through the winter season or one can build one from scratch using an extended built underground storage cellar room away from the foundation of the house however make sure it is not near any trees as the tree roots can crack through the cellar over time warping the foundation making all that effort to build one in vein. It might cost a bit though to acquire all that cinder blocks or bricks, gravel and cement needed for that though depending on your budget however Pinterest is good for finding quick DIY ideas.
Eggs – Unfortunately eggs without a fridge are only going to last a week at room temperature. In a root cellar however they can last another 2 more weeks if stored properly.
Milk & Butter – A French crock also known as butter bell is used to keep an unrefrigerated amount of butter fresh. They work by immersing a small pot in cold water to create an airtight seal. Butter stored non-refrigerated like this can last 3 to 4 weeks. At one point butter was stored efficiently without a fridge and many people still store butter this way as well. Milk however will only last so long outside the fridge typically it was turned into cream that would then be used to turn into butter or cheese. Milk and cream can be kept fresh either in a type of “spring house” which is similar to a root cellar. If one were to have a flowing cold water stream nearby, one could use the natural colder temperature of the water to temporarily refrigerate milk and other dairy products. A spring house is built with a channel through which water from the stream can be diverted. The milk in jugs or other containers is set in the flowing water to keep it at a lower temperature.
Cheeses – To store cheeses efficiently wrap it in wax paper or parchment paper then put it in a sealed plastic bag leaving part of it opened. The paper creates a barrier between the cheese and the plastic. The alternative would be using aluminum foil but wax paper is probably the best. Length of time of how long the cheese will last will also vary on the type of cheese.
Sugar & Honey – Brown sugar can dry out over time as the moisture begins to evaporate in sugar but it can still be used. This will result in a hard sugar due to it clumping. Changes in the climate can also be another factor affecting the consistency of sugar. Even though the sugar gets dry and hard it is not harmful and is still safe to use it. Granulated white sugar and powder will last indefinitely. As for honey it is it’s own natural preservative it can not expire and can last literally for 3000 years, honey that lasts that long however is typically crystalized similar to amber that comes from resin and tree sap over an amount of time.
Overall I put what I knew can be stored the longest up here and to help take an open minded view about what can last the longest especially during a cold winter when it will be impossible to grow crops outside so understanding this is very important and could mean the difference between life and death in a SHTF scenario. So remember always grow grains and nuts especially during warm seasons so your prepared for the unexpected because in this day and age in this crazy world you never really know what exactly will happen next.