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Peanut Butter as Survival Food? An In-Depth Expert Analysis

Being prepared with a stockpile of food is extremely important in an emergency or survival situation. If you are stuck in your house in a bad situation or need to survive in the wilderness for an extended period of time, you need to know what to store for survival food that is cheap, nutritious, and with a long shelf life. Let’s evaluate peanut butter and see if this is a viable solution.

Peanut butter is a really good survival food. It is readily available, shelf-stable, nutrient-rich, calorie-dense, and easy to store while being easy on the wallet compared to many survival foods. Powdered peanut butter, specially designed for survival stores, can even last up to 10 years.

For maximum shelf life, powdered peanut butter like this kind is the way to go. It is also reasonably inexpensive and can be picked up on Amazon.

Since we know that peanut butter is a good choice for an emergency food stockpile, let’s dive into the details of what makes it such a great choice.

Cartoon illustration of peanut butter jar as a super hero with a cape

What Is the Best Peanut Butter for Long-Term Storage?

One of the first considerations when building up your food stockpile is determining what can be stored for a long period of time. In most cases, you need to take a good look at the specific processing methods and preservatives included in the peanut butter to determine the shelf life of the food.

Powdered peanut butter is the best peanut butter for long-term storage. If it is sealed in a #10 can and stored in a cool, dry place, it can last between 5 and 10 years. It can also last up to a year in a plastic pouch.

Where to Get Powdered Peanut Butter

There are two ways to get powdered peanut butter. You can either buy it at a supply store like this kind on Amazon, or my other recommended source, My Patriot Supply. Or, you can make it yourself.

  • How to make it- I wrote a detailed article that walks you through the process.

The fact that powdered peanut butter is much lighter and nutritionally dense in terms of protein really makes this a great option for nutrition in a survival situation. You will need a clean source of water to rehydrate the peanut butter for consumption.

What if I Want to Store Regular Non-Powdered Peanut Butter?

I get it. Powdered peanut butter won’t ever be quite as good as the creamy or crunchy kind.

For keeping regular jarred peanut butter, we need to look at specifics on the label. How long will the peanut butter keep in the pantry unopened? What if it’s opened? Read the label to make sure you are picking one with a sufficient shelf life.

The preparation methods, storage methods, additives, and other factors have a significant effect on how long you can safely store your peanut butter. If in doubt, check the label on your peanut butter but check out some basic guidelines in the table below.

Peanut Butter Shelf Life

NaturalProcessed
Opened – Pantry1-3 months3-4 months
Unopened – Pantry2-4 months12 months
Opened – Refrigerated5-6 months6-8 months
Unopened – Refrigerated 3-6 months12 months

If you are looking for a longer shelf life than 12 months, it is recommended to stock powdered peanut butter.

As you can see, we need to leave natural peanut butter off the long-term storage list. I know this sounds like we are not picking the healthiest option available, but if you think about what the purpose of the emergency food supplies are it makes sense to favor foods with preservatives that keep foods shelf-stable.

How To Store Peanut Butter Long Term

Peanut butter will generally keep longer if refrigerated or left in a cold dark location so if you can accommodate these conditions it is a good idea to do so. Prepackaged options are great in many situations and are a very convenient option when storage is feasible.

As mentioned before, there isn’t a huge discrepancy in many cases between cool and room temperature storage for peanut butter. Most processed peanut butter will last up to around a year, and natural peanut butter around half as long.

A few simple steps to follow to ensure maximal shelf life and avoid rancidity.

  1. Use clean utensils every time you use peanut butter to avoid bacterial contamination in the container.
  2. Store the peanut butter in a tightly sealed, airtight container – this may require repackaging the peanut butter.
  3. Store it in a cool dark place whenever possible. In a pantry, this would be the lowest shelf.

How Much Peanut Butter Should I Store for a Year?

Open Jar of Peanut Butter on a Table

A jar of smooth Skippy brand peanut butter packs a whopping 2,660 calories with 98 grams of protein, 224 grams of fat, and 98 grams of carbs. There will be minor differences between brands, but this is approximately what you can expect out of a jar of peanut butter.

For somebody looking for 2000 calories a year that is set on all of their calories coming from peanut butter for an entire year, you’re looking at storing 275 jars of peanut butter. If you want one meal a day 92 jars of peanut butter will do.

If you want to figure out how much to store for your family, just multiply it out to however many family members you need to prep for.

For keeping dry peanut butter, there are typically about 65 sixty-calorie servings in a #10 can. This translates to about 4,000 calories per can. I recommend just treating peanut butter as a luxury food and storing 1 can per month for a family of 4 or 5. That should be enough to pair with the jams or jellies you are likely storing, maybe even making it yourself.

Peanut Butter Powder

How Long Can a Person Survive on Peanut Butter Alone?

Peanut Butter is a very nutrient-dense food that is full of fats, proteins, and carbs. Peanut Butter is also a source of calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin E, and niacin. As a survival food, this is a great source of energy that can keep your body going for a long time.

Peanut butter is generally regarded as healthy food and would provide plenty of nutrients in the short term. However, this food is not a complete source of nutrition and needs to be incorporated into a more balanced diet in the long term.

Put simply, peanut butter is a great stop-gap measure for getting calories that you need in a survival situation and can help keep you going short-term, but you need to incorporate the nutrients found in vegetables, fruits, and meats to maintain your health.

How to Tell if Peanut Butter Has Gone Bad

Peanut Butter on a Spoon

Peanut butter can be safely stored for long periods of time, but it does eventually go bad.

Look for the following to determine if your peanut butter has gone rancid:

  • Texture: If the texture is hard and dry, the peanut butter has gone bad.
  • Bad Odor: Has it developed an unusual smell? If so, throw it away.
  • Mold: If there is mold visible in the container, toss it out.
  • Color: Has the color changed? If it is not the typical peanut butter color, it may have gone rancid or developed mold.

Final Thoughts

Given the widespread availability of peanut butter and the great nutritional density, there aren’t a lot of foods that can easily compete with peanut butter as a survival food.

You can simply pick up an inexpensive jar of peanut butter at a supermarket and have enough calories for four meals.

Many people enjoy the flavor of peanut butter and are familiar with how to incorporate it into their eating habits, so it would take the edge off a survival situation to have access to a familiar comfort food.

Please tell me your thoughts on storing peanut butter as survival food in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Jelly Grandma

Related Questions

How long would homemade peanut butter last? Homemade peanut butter is both simple to make and healthy but does not last a long time. Use the guidelines for natural peanut butter to determine shelf life.

How long does jelly last? Jelly lasts up to 12 months beyond its printed use date if unopened. After opening, it can last over 6 months refrigerated.

For more, don’t miss Do Nuts Expire? (And How to Extend Their Shelflife).