Foods That Will Never Go Off

When shopping for food we are all used to looking at the “best-by” and “use-by” dates. However, some people don’t realise that there are many foods that simply won’t go off if they are stored properly.

Here you can take a look at some common foodstuff that will last for years in your cupboard. It is always worth keeping some of them around, as that way you can be sure of having something to eat.


While honey may change to a more crystalline consistency over time, it will never actually become inedible. This is because honey is only roughly 17% water, which is not enough to allow bacteria or fungi to flourish. In fact, honey will actually dehydrate bacteria. If your honey does crystallize, you can run the container under hot water for a few minutes. This will soften the honey without changing its taste.


If you place your sugar in an airtight container away from light and heat then it can be stored indefinitely. This is true of both white and brown sugar. Sugar is very inhospitable to bacteria, meaning that when stored properly it will stay safe to eat. However, if damp gets in, then it can become hard and allow bacteria to grow. If you want to store sugar for a long time, it may be worth investing in a vacuum-sealable container.

White Rice

If you store white rice in an airtight container then it will stay edible forever. However, the same is not true of brown rice as it has a higher oil content.


People have been preserving food with salt for thousands of years. Salt is excellent at dehydrating things, including bacteria, so if stored properly, then there is no reason why salt should go off. However, if you are using salt that is fortified or has added ingredients, such as iodine, then it will eventually go off (it will still take many years).


Cornstarch is another ingredient that when stored properly, in an airtight container and away from light and heat, will remain usable forever. 


Due to the high acidity of vinegar, most vinegars will remain usable forever. Vinegar is also used to preserve other foods. If you store white vinegar properly, then it will not change over time. However, some vinegars, such as wine or apple cider vinegar, may change colour and appearance. However, according to the Vinegar Institute, these changes are purely aesthetic.

Pure Vanilla Extract

Pure vanilla extract has an alcohol content of around 40%. Alcohol is an excellent preservative so a bottle of pure vanilla extract will remain useable for years and years. Imitation vanilla also contains alcohol but it has other ingredients that will shorten its shelf life.

Maple Syrup

An unopened bottle of maple syrup will remain useable indefinitely. However, once it has been opened then it needs to be stored properly. It should be placed in an airtight container in the fridge. When stored this way, it will last for years.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce has an extremely high level of salt so as long as your soy sauce is properly sealed and stored in a dark place, it should never go off.

Bouillon Cubes

Bouillon cubes are another food item with a high salt content. The cubes will never go off so as long as you have them in your cupboard, you will always be able to make a simple broth.

Dried Beans

Dried beans are a fantastic source of protein, fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. As such, they are an excellent food to keep in stock at all times. Furthermore, they will last indefinitely when stored in a cool, dry place.

This was put to the test in 2005 by Brigham Young University. A study was conducted that served pinto beans that were up to 32 years old to a group of 58 people. From those who took part, around 80% said that they would eat even the oldest beans as part of their regular diet.

Powdered Milk

If you store powdered milk in an airtight container, then it will remain useable for between 2 and 10 years after its best-by date. If it is stored in a place below 60F then it will last even longer and if you put it in your freezer, it will last indefinitely. While it is not a perfect substitute for fresh milk, it is always good to have for emergencies.


If you purchase microwave popcorn then it will eventually expire. However, the loose kernels can last for decades. They should be stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container, and used to make popcorn at any time.

There are many more foods that have an extremely long shelf life. In general, anything that has a high salt, sugar, vinegar or alcohol content, will last for years without going bad.