Pasta is one of the most easily accessible sources of carbohydrates available in the modern world. It is also heavily stocked at most grocery and convenience stores. But does it make a decent survival food?
Pasta makes a good survival food since it is a shelf-stable and energy-dense source of carbohydrates that is both cheap and widely available. When stored properly, dried pasta will last for several years and is very simple to prepare since it only requires boiling it in water.
Let’s take a look at some of the merits of stacking pasta as a survival food and why you should consider using it as a part of your emergency food kit.
What Is the Best Pasta for Long-Term Storage?
Pasta can be prepared either fresh with a pasta-making machine or by hand. Alternatively, it can be purchased dry from the grocery store or convenience store. There is a huge difference in shelf life between fresh pasta and dried pasta.
Fresh pasta needs to be used within 2-3 days and stored in a refrigerator. Dried pasta needs to be used within 1-2 years past a “best by” date.
When looking at traditional wheat-based pasta, the biggest problem that you are likely to run into in terms of spoilage is improper storage. Egg noodles tend to go bad a couple of years earlier than traditional pasta but is handled more or less the same way.
The storage area needs to be clear of pests and protected from moisture. At a minimum, the pasta will need to be stored in a sealed container free of any moisture.
How Do I Know If the Pasta Is Spoiled
- Pasta Crumbles – if you touch the noodles, they disintegrate.
- Odor – a musty odor means moisture might’ve gotten into the noodles.
- Mold – if you find mold on the surface, it’s time to throw the pasta out.
What About Alternative Dried Pasta?
With all the alternative pasta on the market, such as black bean pasta, rice pasta, and chickpea pasta, it might get confusing to determine what pasta to select for long-term storage.
The good news is that the expiration information is readily available on the boxes, and the vast majority of types of dried pasta will have a long shelf life. The reason for the long shelf life is the dehydration of the product removing almost all of the moisture content, and the fact that these alternative pasta types tend to be low-fat foods. Always be sure to read the label to confirm.
Ultimately the biggest consideration for choosing the best pasta for long-term storage is selecting some form of dried pasta and storing it properly away from moisture and pests.
What Is Pasta’s Shelf Life?
Depending on the exact method of storage, the shelf life can vary a bit. Fresh pasta only lasts 2-3 days. However, most types of dried pasta will last a couple of years to the “best by” date and a couple more years beyond that.
Some methods of storage, such as canning in a No. 10 can, decreases the chances of contamination while increasing the shelf life of the pasta product. Any storage method that creates a sealed-off moisture-free environment will last around 3-6 years at a decent quality.
How to Store Pasta for Long-Term Storage
There are a few notable methods to store pasta for long-term storage. The most prominent methods are using a vacuum sealer like a FoodSaver Food Preservation System, mason jars, using food storage bags like Ziploc bags, or keeping it in its original packaging.
Using a Vacuum Sealer
Removing atmospheric oxygen from the pasta that you are trying to store can drastically increase its shelf life. Since a sealer like this type found on Amazon vacuum seals your pasta, it could potentially quadruple your shelf life.
Using mason jars is a simple storage method. Simply unscrew the lid and fill the jar to the top and add an oxygen absorption packet. This can keep your pasta fresh for longer, especially if you are dealing with pasta that has already been opened.
Of course, an airtight container like this one from Amazon will work nicely for mid-term storage.
Food Storage Bags
This is the traditional simple storage method that many families use in modern times. It is a very simple method to use since you simply fill the bag, squeeze the air out of it as much as possible, and seal it up. Extra points if you add an oxygen absorption packet.
If you can’t be bothered or you just don’t have the stuff on hand to do additional preparation, you can always leave it in its original packaging. Make sure the packaging is undamaged and free of all signs of moisture, and find a cool, dry place to store it. Expect it to remain fresh up to 2 years past the expiration date.
Generally speaking, you will get a lot more shelf life using a vacuum food sealing system than any other method. Storage in mason jars and food storage bags works well for any pasta that has already been opened to prevent it from going bad prematurely. Keeping it in the original packaging is legitimate as well so long as you ensure the packaging is intact.
For ultra long-term storage, check out my article called How to Store Rice and Beans Long Term: Tried and Tested Methods The concepts are exactly the same for storing any dry goods for a long time.
How Much Pasta Should I Store for a Year?
When planning your emergency food stockpile, you need to consider how many days you need your stockpile to last and how many people you need to feed.
Uncooked noodles provide 1,687 calories per pound of dry pasta. If you are comfortable with almost 70% of your 2500 daily calories (daily maintenance calorie for a man) store one pound of pasta per day you want your stockpile to last.
How Long Can a Person Survive on Pasta Alone?
Pasta is an incredibly efficient storage solution to get carbohydrates in your diet. However, the human body cannot live on simple carbohydrates alone.
Proper nutrition requires that you get a balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. This typically means meats, vegetables, and starches like pasta. Pasta, as a starch, almost exclusively provides carbohydrates. Protein deficiency will contribute to problems like loss of muscle mass, greater risk of bone fractures, and stunted growth in children.
Vitamins and minerals are also a huge concern if you are eating a diet consisting solely of pasta. Even enriched pasta only addresses some nutrients, such as some B vitamins and iron. Without vitamin C you can contract scurvy and are open to other illnesses due to suppressed immune function.
All this being said, pasta can give you valuable calories that will help you if SHTF. This will give you enough nutrition to survive without major problems for up to 4 weeks, which should give you some time to find other sources of nutrition to balance out your diet for better health.
Pasta is an incredibly efficient source of carbohydrates that belongs in any emergency food stockpile and can easily replace the typically recommended rice as a source of carbs.
The widespread availability and relatively cheap cost to purchase make it a simple and efficient survival food in tandem with other food sources.
Should pasta be rinsed? You should never rinse pasta for a warm dish like spaghetti since the starch that gets rinsed off in the process helps sauces adhere to your pasta. It can be rinsed for pasta salad or other cold dishes.
Is it okay to eat expired mac and cheese? Mac-and-cheese that does not require refrigeration has some leeway and can be consumed a couple of years after expiration. Frozen and refrigerated varieties should be discarded.
For more, don’t miss Is Ramen A Good Survival Food? | All You Need to Know.
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.