Not all oats are created equal when it comes to shelf-life, but they are an awesome addition to your survival pantry if they are processed correctly.
Rolled oats are the best for storage because they have the longest shelf life. Also known as old-fashioned oats, they will store for 30 years in long-term storage if packaged in a sealed oxygen-free container such as a #10 can, Mylar bag, or a Food-grade pale with an oxygen absorber in the container.
Oats were a staple of Roman legions and Scottish Highlanders. A proven high-protein staple that is flexible and easy to prepare. Following is all the information I found researching oats for my long-term storage.
Oats come in different forms depending on how they are processed. Not all oats are created equal when it comes to long-term storage. Check out the list below to get an idea of storage times and types.
Store Bought Packaging
In Sealed Oxygen-free Container, #10 Can, Mylar, or Food-grade buckets
|Oat Groats/Oat grain/ Kernel||Whole Oat kernel with the husk removed||9 to 12 months, 2 years unopened||10-15|
|Steel- Cut Oats/Irish/Pinhead/Coarse Oats||Groats cut into pieces with a steel blade||9 to 12 months,|
2 years unopened
|10 to 30|
(This is controversial and depends on moisture and oil content of grain)
|Rolled Oats/Old Fashioned/Whole||Groats are steamed, rolled, flattened and dried into flakes||9 to 12 months, 2 Years unopened||30 Years if stabilized with steam and toasted|
|Instant/Quick Oats||Processed like rolled oats but for a longer period||9 to 12 months, 2 years unopened||30 Years (if repackaged) Doesn’t include prepackaged instant oatmeal with flavoring(s)|
|Scottish Oats/ Scottish Porridge Oats/ Oat Flour||Groats milled or ground into flour||3 months||5 Years|
Pre-packaged with spices and flavoring(s)
|Prepackaged oats like Quaker cinnamon and Spice||6 to 9 Months||6 to 9 Months in store packaging|
Stabilized Rolled Oats Have the Longest Shelf-life
If you plan on storing rolled oats as survival food, you want the maximum shelf life. To get the maximum shelf-life, make sure the rolled oats your purchase are stabilized with steam to remove and stabilize lipase fats that naturally occur in oats.
Natural unstabilized oats don’t have a longer shelf-life if stored in an oxygen-free container, the fats still go rancid, and the oats will only last about 3 months. Compare that to stabilized oats that will keep for 30 years.
Most commercially sold oats are stabilized. If you are purchasing oats in bulk, the spec sheet should be available to tell you how the oats were processed. If not, there should be mention of how they were processed. If in doubt, contact the seller.
Below, is description of a 50lb bag of oats for sale on the internet
Production: the raw groat is separated from its out hull by centrifugal acceleration and winnowing. It is then steamed in preparation for rolling into flakes of various thicknesses, and finally, kiln-dried…to reduce moisture levels to assure long shelf life.Information compliments of Essential Organics
6 Forms of Oat With Pictures: Long-term Storage
Why Do Rolled Oats Store Longer?
Rolled and unflavored instant oats last the longest because of how they are processed. Steaming, rolling, and toasting remove the oils and moisture that lead to early spoilage.
When oats are stabilized (steamed and toasted) and stored in oxygen-free containers with oxygen absorbers, they have a 30+ year shelf-life. Also, bugs in all life stages, egg, pupae, and adult, will be killed within 2 weeks.
How long will Oat Groats Store in Long-term storage?
Oat groats are a great choice for long-term storage. I prefer eating the whole oat groat or steel-cut oats to rolled oats. There is so much more flavor and texture, but you won’t get the max-shelf life.
Oat Groats will store for 15 years in an oxygen-free container like a Mylar bag, food-grade pale, or a #10 can. The container is made oxygen-free by using an Oxygen absorber and sealing. If oat groats are stored in store-bought packaging, groats will last 9 to 12 months as long as bug eggs are not present.
Shelf Life of Steel-Cut Oats In Long-Term Storage
Steel-cut oats properly stored in an Oxygen-free container will last 10 to 15 years. You won’t get this kind of shelf-life from store-bought packaging, though. You are looking at a maximum of 9 to 12 months stored this way.
Repackaged into a hermetically sealed container like #10 can, Mylar bags, or a food-grade pale with an Oxygen absorber, the shelf-life is 10 to 15 years.
What Is The Shelf-life of Oat Flour
The store oat flour in sealed containers used for long-term storage, and you will get a 5-year shelf-life as long as moisture is 10% or less and the oils have been baked out when the groats were processed.
How Long Will Oats Last In Storage?
Oats will last 9 to 12 months if left inside store packaging. Oats are stored in an oxygen-free container for long-term storage as survival food lasts much longer.
In an O2-free environment, rolled oats will store for up to 30 years, steel-cut oats will store for 10 to 15 years, and Scottish oats (really course flour) will store for up to five years.
3 Ideal Long-term storage containers for Oats: Maximum Shelf-life
Mylar bags, #10 cans, food-grade pales or ball jars with Oxygen absorbers.
Top Storage Environment For Oats
For maximum storage life of survival, foods make sure the storage environment is cool, dry, less than 75° F, and keep sunlight off of oats by using opaque packaging, or in the case of ball jars covering or placing in a dark cupboard.
How Long Does it Take to Cook Oats From Long-Term Storage
|Oat Groats/Oat grain/ Kernel||Boil 8 Cups of Water, 1 tsp of salt. Add 1 cup of oat groats, return to a boil and cook for |
30 minutes, drain and serve
|Steel- Cut Oats/Irish/Pinhead/Coarse Oats||1 cup of steel-cut oats to 2/12 cup water, boil water with 1 tsp salt and steel cuts oats, reduce to a simmer, cook for 30 minutes|
|Rolled Oats/Old Fashioned/Whole||1 cup of rolled oats, 1 3/4 cup water, 1/8 tsp salt, bring water to boil, stir in oats, simmer 5 minutes|
|Instant/Quick Oats||1 cup of rolled oats, 1 3/4 cup water, 1/8 tsp salt, bring water to boil, stir in oats, simmer 5 minutes|
|Scottish Oats/ Scottish Porridge Oats/ Oat Flour||1 cup Scottish Oat Flour, 3 cups of water, 1/2 tsp salt, Bring Water to a boil, add oat flour, reduce heat to simmer, cook 10 minutes|
Pre-packaged with spices and flavoring(s)
|Empty packet into a bowl, add 1/2 cup boiling water, let sit 1 minute, stir|
How Can You Tell If Oats Have Gone South: Long-term Storage
Your oats should look, smell and taste like oats. When in doubt throw them out.
If you avoid moisture and the oats were processed properly for storage you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. If in doubt look for these signs that your oats have gone bad.
- Discoloration: fresh oats should have a brown or cream-like color
- Lumping (a sign of moisture)
- Mold (a sign of moisture) mold on oats looks like fluffy white patches, black or gray powder.
- Off Odors-caused by moisture or fats going rancid from unstabilized oats.
- Black Specks from bug carcasses or feces. You should have this problem if Oxygen absorbers were used in an Oxygen-free container.
- Powder/Overly Powdery-Bug feces and carcasses or mold. You should not have this problem if Oxygen absorbers were used in an Oxygen-free container.
- Squirming Mass of crawlies. Your oats may be infested with weevils. But how, you might ask? Most grains have bug eggs when you get them. You should not have this problem if Oxygen absorbers were used in an Oxygen-free container.
- A hole in the oat bag or container might be from mice. Look for signs of excrement. If it’s just, physical damage moisture and bugs may have entered the bag.
- Unstabilized Oats: The oats you stored still have a high-fat content because they weren’t steamed, and the fat has gone rancid, or they weren’t toasted and had a high moisture content.
Warning: Never store Oats or any other dry good in an oxygen-free container when moisture levels are above 10%. This may lead to botulism. Botulism is rare, but you cannot see it, smell it or taste it.
Oats in Long-term Storage: Steel-cut VS. Rolled:
We’ve already covered shelf-life, but just as a reminder, steel-cut will only store 10 to 15 years because they aren’t stabilized like old-fashioned oats, which will store 30+ years if they are stabilized with steam and moisture is toasted out to 10% or less.
You may be wondering about nutrition and usefulness when comparing both types. When it comes to nutrition, steel-coat and old-fashioned oats are pretty much the same. In a survival scenario, there are other considerations.
|Characteristic||Steel-Cut Oats||Rolled/Old Fashioned|
Steamed and Toasted for Stabilization
|Water Usage For Preparation||X|
|Whole Grain For Sustained Energy||X|
|Overall Nutritional Value||X||Similar but not quite as good as steel-cut|
If you are shooting for shelf-life, rolled oats are the clear winner. That said, I prefer eating Irish steel-cut oats. They taste so much better. You can tell you are eating a whole grain.
If you are choosing between the two, go with rolled oats. If the shorter shelf-life is acceptable, I would also store the steel cut oats and rotate them.
University of Harvard, T.H. Chan, School of Public Health, Oats
Oxygen Absorbers And Food Storage, Scott Foster, Ready Squirrel
Top 6 D.I.Y. Containers For Long-term Food Storage, Scott Foster, Ready Squirrel
Mylar Bags: Secret Weapon Of Food Storage, Scott Foster, Ready Squirrel
Food Stockpile: One Person For Three Months, Scott Foster, Ready Squirrel