Table sugar is a simple carbohydrate that provides an outstanding source of calories for instant energy, and it is good for palate fatigue and improves morale. It is must-have food in your long-term survival or emergency food storage.
Regular old white table sugar is the king of sugars when it comes to long-term food storage.
Store table sugar in an airtight, opaque container that protects sugar from odor and moisture in a cool, dry location for indefinite shelf life. Avoid storing sugar close to high heat or freezing temperatures as it changes the color, flavor, and texture.
When thinking about sugar for the collapse, try not to imagine sitting on the couch gulping down gallons of sweetened sodas and chomping on mega family-sized bags of gummy worms.
No, this article considers the importance sugar plays when SHTF.
The grocery stores shelves are empty, the big rigs are sitting idle, the economy has collapsed, and all you have to survive the next year is the food you are growing or have stored.
It’s all about mindset. Don’t respond and tell me sugar isn’t good for you and nobody should eat it because when SHTF kicks off, you’ll be knocking on my door begging for calories.
We are so used to storing our dry foods using oxygen-free storage we start to think everything needs to be stored this way. White table sugar is an exception. (Salt is too)
Keep Sugar From Getting Rock Hard
Do not store sugar oxygen-free. If you store sugar in Mylar bags (A true moisture barrier), don’t use oxygen absorbers because it’s unnecessary to preserve sugar. The absence of oxygen in the sugar storage container causes it to get hard, changing the flavor. It gets rock hard.
Do Not Freeze or refrigerate crystallized table sugar: It imparts moisture via condensation and turns sugar into a brick.
Do not store sugar in the freezer; it causes condensation, adds moisture, and turns sugar into stone.
Can you still use sugar after it turns rock hard?
Yes, all you have to do is re-grind it. Sugar compacting and turning hard is just an inconvenience. Because sugar is anti-microbial, it doesn’t go “bad” and has an indefinite shelf-life.
Bulk Storage of Sugar
The best method for storing sugar in bulk is 5-gallon food-grade bucket with a plastic lid. I get the cheap bucket and lids at Wallymart in the paint section. (they are food-grade.)
Pour the sugar into the bucket, put the lid on, and store it in a cool, dry location for an indefinite (forever) shelf-life.
Where to Store Sugar
Store sugar in a cool, dry location inside an opaque, airtight container that prevents sugar from absorbing flavors in the pantry and moisture from the air. Sugar is anti-microbial, so that it will store indefinitely.
Long-term storage of sugar is about retaining taste, texture and keeping bugs like weevils and ants out.
Avoid storing sugar in really hot spaces or areas that have drastic fluctuations in temperature or next to hot appliances. You can’t get sugar too cold but too hot, and the color and flavor will change.
If you are in the middle of an SHTF event, sugar is edible if it’s rock hard or tastes like a stale pantry.
Bugs like Sugar
Purchase fresh, bug-free table sugar to re-package for long-term storage. Commercial sugars don’t normally come with bug eggs like grains do because sugar processing kills them. Your job is keeping bugs from getting in.
Re-package sugar in an airtight container to keep it bug-free.
Sugar Is a Sponge
Sugar absorbs smells, flavors, and moisture like a sponge which changes its flavor.
Nobody wants to eat rock-hard sugar that tastes like rotten potatoes, old cereal, or a bad can of beans, so store sugar in a container that provides an airtight, smell-proof moisture barrier.
The following five containers are good for sugar storage.
5 Long-term Storage Containers For Granulated Sugar
The best containers for sugar storage should be non-transparent (Opaque), air-tight, and keep out moisture and odors.
Can I keep sugar in the paper packaging it comes in?
Do not keep sugar in-store packaging unless you are ok with it tasting like old socks and getting infested with bugs.
#1 Polyethylene bags (Ziplock Bags)
Store table sugar in Polyethylene bags.
There aren’t many things. Polyethylene bags are good for long-term storage because they are clear; they allow for the light oxidation of most foods, and they don’t provide a true oxygen barrier, but they work to store table sugar.
The only issue I’d have with Ziplock-type bags is how easily they are damaged.
Place bags inside a lidded food-grade bucket or lidded plastic tote to protect them from physical damage and critters.
If you use vacuum seal bags, don’t vacuum the air out, or you’ll get the same result as storing with Oxygen-absorbers in Mylar. The sugar turns into a rock.
#2 Mylar Bags
Mylar bags are an excellent container for storing sugar long-term.
If you store other dry goods like grains or dry beans, you will likely have Mylar bags on hand.
Before my pea-brain had a basic understanding of long-term food storage I packaged 100 lbs of sugar in Mylar bags with 2000 cc oxygen absorbers. As we now know, you don’t store sugar oxygen-free or it turns to stone. I’m not too worried though because I know it’s still edible. At least it won’t taste or smell like my kitchen garbage can.Scott, Ready Squirrel
Mylar bags aren’t balloons, if you are confused about what a Mylar bag is check out the Ready Squirrel article, “Mylar Bags: The Best DIY Food Storage Container For SHTF.”
Looking for Mylar Bags? Check out the Ready Squirrel Amazon Affiliate Link. We get money for beans and bullets but you don’t pay extra we get a cut of Amazon’s profit.
#3 Food-grade Plastic Buckets
Food-grade buckets with a sealed lid are an excellent way to store sugar long-term.
Buckets are easy to work with, stack easily, and re-usable for other food-grade purposes like fermenting or fetching potable water.
Sugar may be sitting in a food-grade plastic bucket for decades. Over time buckets deteriorate and may crack, so it’s a good idea to store sugar in bags or line them with Mylar before putting sugar into the bucket.
Maverick preppers like to live on the edge and use just the bucket with no lining.
Storage Tip: Before placing sugar in a bucket, fill Mylar bags, Ziplock bags, or home-sewn muslin bags, a cotton fabric you can get at the hobby store, to store sugar inside buckets. If the bucket cracks, sugar will still be somewhat protected by the bags.
Plastic Totes: Another way of storing sugar is to fill Ziplock-type bags and place them inside a lidded plastic tote.
Warning: Avoid storing any foods in non-food grade buckets unless the bucket is lined with Mylar bags first. Do not let sugar make direct contact with non-food grade plastic as it may transfer chemicals.
Read more about the difference between food and non-food grade buckets in the Ready Squirrel article, “What’s the Difference Between Food and Non-food grade buckets?”
A filled 5-gallon bucket will hold 35 pounds of sugar.
Sugar and Salt are the Acceptions, Not the Rule: Avoid storing other foods, like wheat, dry beans, and white rice, in buckets without Mylar bags. Plastic in the buckets does allow for the transfer of air over time which leads to oxidation and may allow bug eggs to hatch.
Looking for food-grade buckets? Check out Ready Squirrel’s Amazon Affiliate link. I get money for beans and bullets if you do any shopping. It doesn’t cost you extra I just get a cut of Amazon’s profit.
#4 Ball-canning jars
Ball jars are excellent for storing the sugar you are using in the kitchen. Personally, I wouldn’t store 100lbs of sugar in ball jars unless I was a big canner and had many extras lying around.
Canning jars are expensive, and they break easily.
Before filling jars with sugar, wash them well with soap and water and let them dry completely.
Fill clean canning jars with table sugar, leaving 1/2″ of headspace in each jar. Make sure there is no sugar on the rim of your jar, and screw the lid on tightly.
For sugar storage, Sterilization of canning jars is not necessary.
#5 #10 Cans
Lined #10 cans are excellent containers for table sugar. You can purchase professionally packaged sugar from the online LDS cannery and Survival food stores.
If sugar acquires a metallic flavor during storage, it should be discardedBrian Nummer, Food Safety Specialist, Utah State University
What To Make: Sugar in Long-term Storage
Sugar has been demonized, but in hard times it’s cherished and excellent for barter. During WWII, table sugar was the last food to come off of rationing. So what can you do with sugar besides trading it for other things you need.
Sugar is an excellent complement to bedrock emergency foods like wheat and oats.
Sugar acts as a shot of flavor and energy baked goods like sticky buns, morning oatmeal, or whole wheat berries cooked as porridge.
Eating regular beans might get old. Sugar is one of those foods you can use to change it up and relieve palet fatigue.
Use sugar in unleavened bread like pancakes, johnnycakes, or bannock
Meat and Vegetable Marinades
Sugar is used to marinate meat and vegetables to boost flavor. It is also a natural meat tenderizer for tough cuts of meat.
Sweetener for coffee or tea
Talk about a morale booster. If you are a coffee or tea drinker, no explanation is needed.
Sugar is a natural preservative, important if SHTF and you depend on homegrown or fruit you barter for.
Don’t forget that during a societal collapse or economic collapse,e food preservation is a skill that will feed you during the winter months and off-growing season.
Add sugar to drink powders that are professionally packaged in #10 cans. Most of them are fortified with Vitamin C.
What I like about juice drink mix is it’s a treat or something to look forward to. If most of your hydration is water, an occasional shot of an orange juice drink (bug juice) is a spirit lifter.
Use table sugar to kickstart the fermentation of food and drink.
Let’s use apple cider as an example. You can take hundreds of pounds of ground dropped apples and sugar and ferment hard cider, a nutritious, clean water source that will store for a year plus in a cool, dry location.
When compared to my preferred sweetener, honey, sugar is cheap.
Crystalized sugar is less expensive than honey, but it’s also easier to work with when cooking and preserving food.
It’s amazing how cheap the bedrock staples like sugar really are compared to pre-packaged foods. Dry Foods like white rice, dried beans, wheat, oats, sugar, and salt are the best survival foods for long-term survival, and they are the cheapest.
If you are interested in what a year’s supply of food for one person looks like, check out the Ready Squirrel article, “How Much Food To Stockpile For Per Person.”
Table Sugar Shelf-life
Properly stored in a cool, dry location, table sugar (crystallized white sugar) has an indefinite shelf-life, which will outlive us, making it an excellent addition to other top priority emergency foods like white rice, dried beans, etc. and wheat berries.
Storing Powdered Sugar Long Term
Powdered sugar has an indefinite shelf life and should be stored in an airtight container that protects it from odors, moisture, and bugs.
Ideal Storage Containers For Powdered Sugar: Mylar bags, Polyethylene bags (Ziplock Bags), food-grade buckets, ball or canning jars, or purchased professionally packaged in sealed #10 cans.
Table sugar is more useful in long-term storage, and it’s less expensive.
If you want to use powdered sugar, I suggest milling it from table sugar using a food processor or blender.
Storing Brown Sugar Long Term
Brown sugar isn’t ideal for long-term storage because it drys out quickly. Storing it indefinitely or for 30 years isn’t an option.
Storing brown sugar
Brown sugar should be stored in a cool, moist area in a rustproof container with a tight-fitting lid. Brown sugar can also be stored in any type of re-sealable, moisture-proof plastic bag. The quality of brown sugar is best when consumed within six months of purchase and opening. Don’t store brown sugar in the refrigerator.Domino Sugar.com
Some survival food companies such as Augason Farms and Emergency essentials offer brown sugar professionally packaged to last 20 years.
Make Your own brown sugar by combining table sugar and molasses. Making brown sugar isn’t an option during SHTF; if things go beyond 12 months, the shelf life of molasses is in long-term storage.
Storing Honey Long Term
Honey has an indefinite shelf life if it is free of impurities, additives, and moisture. Of all the honey types, commercially filtered honey has the longest shelf-life in storage.
For honey to spoil, there needs to be something inside of it that can spoil. I.e., moisture from the atmosphere or an additive.
For maximum storage life, avoid storing unfiltered honey and honey with the comb.
Store honey in a cool, dry, dark location in a sealed container.
Do not refrigerate honey. It will lose flavor and consistency
Preferred Honey Storage Containers should be airtight but not oxygen-free
Glass canning jars (ball jars)
Honey is slightly acidic. It will cause rust in metal containers or on metal lids, so always use lined, food-grade metal containers or lids when storing.
Storing 100% Maple Syrup Long Term
Store real maple syrup in food-grade plastic, glass, or metal containers that provide an airtight seal.
Stored it in a cool, dry location. If it’s in a clear container, store it in the dark to prevent light oxidation.
Once opened, store syrup in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Syrup exposed to oxygen will grow mold, bacteria, or microorganisms.
How long will Maple Syrup Last?
It is not clear how long real maple syrup will last unopened in long-term storage.
Government agencies and University websites do not show maple syrup lasts indefinitely or has a long shelf-life.
There seems to be a lot of information on the internet that states real Maple syrup will last indefinitely if it’s unopened. I can’t find dependable information that states, “real maple syrup stores indefinitely.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University, real maple syrup has a shelf-life of one year unopened. And a year if refrigerated. The one year may be “best if used by date,” but that is not shown in the research.
Maple syrup isn’t the best sweetener to store for emergencies and survival. The long-term shelf life isn’t clear and it requires refrigeration once opened. Consider there are better sweeteners like table sugar that is less expensive, more useful, doesn’t require refrigeration and definitely has an indefinite shelf-life when properly stored.Scott, Ready Squirrel
Corn syrup will last indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry location. If stored in a clear plastic bottle, keep it in the dark pantry or location to prevent discoloration or the possibility of light oxidation. Corn syrup will last indefinitely in the pantry.
Commercial sugars (granular, syrup, and honey) have an indefinite shelf life due to their resistance to microbialBrian Nummer, Food Safety Specialist, Utah State University
growth, including molds.
Karo syrup is safe to eat for an indefinite period of time whether it has been opened or not opened. However, for best results we recommend using before the “Best by” date stamped on the container.Karo .com
Utah State University, Preserve the Harvest Extension, “Storing Sugars.”