Home » Best Way To Store Rice Long Term (survival and emergency food for shortages)

Best Way To Store Rice Long Term (survival and emergency food for shortages)

I recently researched everything white rice to get as much information as possible before purchasing bulk quantities for my family’s long-term food storage. The main thing I discovered, rice is one of the superstars of the prepper pantry. It is a food you should consider storing for emergency preparedness. This article will help you decide if rice is a good fit for your long-term prepping.

The best long-term white rice storage is in a cool, dry location inside an oxygen-free container. The best storage containers are sealed #10 cans or Mylar bags with the proper number and size (s) of oxygen absorber(s) placed inside the container before sealing.

Freezing or refrigerating rice prolongs shelf-life and kills bugs, but it isn’t an excellent storage option for bulk rice because of limited freezer space and electricity requirements. 

Long Term Storage Containers For Rice

The containers you choose to store your rice have a significant impact on how long rice will last. Most food containers are not genuinely airtight, so they allow for the oxidation of stored food. Following is a list of long-term food storage containers that will provide airtight storage if appropriately used.

Long-Term Storage ContainersProsCons
#10 Cans with food-safe enamel lining-Not easily damaged
-Easily keep a seal
The best way to store rice for long-term storage.
-Keeps light off of rice
-30+ year storage life for long-grain white rice
-Normally purchased for an extra expense
-The equipment required to do your own cans is cost prohibitive.

Mylar-type Bags
-Good for small quantities of food
-Need to be vacuum sealed
-Seals are easily broken
-Manufacturing quality is spotty
-Bags are easily damaged
-Best used in food-grade buckets for an extra expense
-Not Rodent Proof
Mason JarsInexpensive, rodent proof,
The best budget option.
-Break easily,
-The glass allows in light, which may quicken oxidation (cover or store in a dark room)
-Need to be vacuum pumped for an airtight seal
-Require Oxygen absorbers
Food-grade Buckets-Good for bulk storage

-Large quantity of food exposed to elements once the container is opened
-Lose airtight seal more often than other methods (lids fail)
-Plastic is not a true oxygen barrier
-Require Oxygen absorber
Mylar- type bags, and Food-grade Buckets-Bags keep an airtight seal protecting rice from moisture and oxygen
-Buckets keep Mylar-type bags from being physically damaged
-Extra expense to purchase both food grade buckets and Mylar-type bags
-Large quantity of rice exposed to the air when the container is opened unless you package it in small bags
-Require oxygen absorber
-Require special equipment and skill
Mylar Bags And A Large Lidded Plastic Container-Bags keep an airtight seal protecting rice from moisture and oxygen
-Bins keep Mylar-type bags from being physically damaged
-Similar to using buckets but more labor-intensive
-Bins will hold more of the small Mylar bags, so less food is exposed when opened

Check out my article, “Best Rice For Long-term Storage” to pick the best rice for survival food. All rice is not created equal.

Are All Types of Rice Good For Long Term Storage

There are thousands of varieties when it comes to rice, but not all are created equal when it comes to long-term storage. Long-grain or one of the other white kinds of rice are the top choices for long-term storage because they store the longest.

Brown rice has the husk on, including natural oils, and will go bad within 18 months; regardless of how stored, avoid it in long-term storage.

The following information is based on optimum storage conditions.

Chart #1 Rice Varieties, Shelf-life For Long-term Storage

White RiceShelf Life
Hermetically Sealed/Oxygen Free
Shelf Life
Store Packaging
Shelf Life In The Freezer
Long-grain30+ years5 years30+Years
Jasmine 30+ years5 Years30+ Years
Basmati 30+ years5 Years30+ Years
Arborio 30+ years5 Years30+ Years
Minute Rice30+years5 years30+ years
Other Types of Rice
Brown 18 months3-6 months12-18 months
Black/Purple 18 months3-6 months12-18 months
Wild 30+ years10+ years30+ years

Rice, with the husk on, like brown rice, has natural oils that cause them to oxidize and spoil quicker than white rice where the shell is removed.

2 Methods to Kill Bug Eggs In Your Rice

Rice and most other grains come with bug eggs. The flour in your pantry probably came with bug eggs. You don’t want to store food for long-term storage until you know the eggs are dead. There are two methods of doing this. I prefer method # 2.

  1. Freeze Rice For 3 Days before you store it. This will kill bug eggs before they hatch, along with pupae, larvae, and grown weevils.
    • Iowa State University Extension Outreach
  2. Hermetically Seal Your Rice and Throw in an Oxygen Absorber: This is the superior method because it kills the bugs and gives years of extra storage without the extra step of freezing.
    • Seal rice in #10 cans or mylar bags and throw in oxygen absorbers or buy rice professionally packaged for long-term storage. An airtight container with no oxygen will kill bug eggs, pupae, larvae, and adult rice weevils within two weeks.

Storing Rice with Bay Leaves to Prevent Bugs

  • Use Bay leaves to keep bugs away from your stored grains. This only works for the rice that is currently in your rotation. Containers can’t be genuinely airtight, or bugs can’t leave the vessel.

Store Rice Long Term in Mason Jars

Store your rice in Mason jars for long-term storage. The benefit of storing this way is that you are only opening small portions of rice at a time. Exposing rice to air is what accelerates aging. One 50lb bag of long-grain white rice will fill 33, 1-quart mason jars.

8 Steps to Storing Rice in Mason Jars

  1. Buy a big bag of rice to make the process worth your while
  2. Freeze rice for three days to kill weevil eggs or not- if you use Oxygen absorbers, this should create an environment that kills all bugs and eggs
  3. Distribute rice into clean mason jars
  4. Drop a food-grade Oxygen absorber into each jar
  5. Place lids on jars
  6. Use a Food Saver with the jar attachment to seal jars
  7. Once sealed, place rings on jar
  8. Store in a cool, dry location.

Long-grain White Rice vacuum-sealed in Mason jars, with oxygen absorbers, should last 30 years if properly stored.

How To Vacuum Seal, Dry Goods in Canning Jars

The Best Way to Store Basmati Rice Long Term

The best way to store uncooked basmati rice in a long-term storage pantry is in a hermetically sealed (Oxygen-free) container like a #10 can or mylar packaging with an oxygen absorber. Store in a cool, dry location for a shelf life of 30-plus years. Professionally packaged basmati specifically for long-term storage is available.

How to Store Brown Rice Long Term

You can’t store Brown Rice Long-term. Even packaged in a hermetically sealed container with an oxygen absorber, the most extended shelf-life you can get from brown rice is 3 to 6 months. Compare that to long-grain white rice, packaged with the same method; you can get a 30-plus-year shelf-life.

If you want to make brown rice part of your long-term food preps you can still use it you just need to eat it regularly and rotate it into your normal diet. For bulk storage, brown rice is not a good option.

Why Can’t I Store Brown Rice Long-term

Brown rice has the outer husk attached to the rice kernel which has a high oil content, and free fatty acids, that oxidize quicker than white rice with the shell removed. The maximum shelf life for brown rice, regardless of how it is packaged, is 3 to 6 months.

food pantry with jars

Is White Rice a Good Survival or Emergency Food?

White rice is royalty when it comes to long-term food storage. It is an excellent choice as the backbone of any long-term or emergency food pantry. Here are 8 reasons why white rice is so good for long-term storage.

8 Reasons Rice is Good For a Prepper’s Pantry

  1. Source of complex carbohydrates
  2. 30-year shelf-life if appropriately stored (hermetically sealed with oxygen absorbers)
  3. Inexpensive
  4. Easy to find
  5. 9000-year track record as a staple food
  6. Currently feeds over 1/2 the planet
  7. Rice is a filling comfort food
  8. Goes well with other pantry items

Not much else to say. White rice is right up there with wheat when it comes to bulk food storage.

Does Instant Rice Last As long as White Rice?

Store instant or minute rice in hermetically sealed mylar bags or #10 cans with Oxygen absorbers for a 30+ year shelf life. Minute rice will last as long as white rice if stored properly.

  • Stored Minute rice will last up to 5 years in store-bought packaging, just like white rice.
  • Don’t confuse the 5-year shelf-life of instant rice with the best buy date because they are different.
  • The best buy date for Instant Rice is two years; after that, the rice will begin to decline in quality unless it is hermetically sealed with O2 absorbers.
white rice

How Many Cups of White Rice in a Pound

When you are planning your pantry menu, it is helpful to know the conversion of rice from pounds into cups when planning recipes and daily nutritional requirements.

If you’re trying to figure out how much rice you need to feed x number of people for x amount of time, keep in mind that the average person needs 2000 to 2300 calories per day depending on how active they are.

Check out Ready Squirrel’s article, “How Much Food to Stockpile Per Person,” for a more in-depth discussion of long-term food storage and a list of USDA calorie count requirements by age, sex, and activity level.

Chart #2 Rice Conversion Chart, Pounds to Cups and Calorie Count

White Rice lbs Dry White Rice (cups) Cooked White Rice
Cooked Calorie Count
1 lb2.5 cups7.5 cups 1,545 *
2 lbs5 cups 15 cups3,090
3 lbs7.5 cups22.5 cups 4,635
4 lbs10 cups30 cups6,180
5 lbs 12.5 cups37.5 cups 7,725
6 lbs 15 cups45 cups 9,270
7 lbs17.5 cups52.5 cups 10,815
8 lbs20 cups 60 cups 12,360
9 lbs 22.5 cups67.5 cups13,905
10 lbs25 cups75 cups15,450
25 lbs 62.50 cups187.5 cups38,625
50 lbs 125 cups375 cups77,250
100 lbs250 cups750 cups 154,500
1 cup of cooked long-grain white rice has 206 calories. USDA

If I Ate Just Rice For a Month How Much Would I Eat?

Eating just white rice isn’t healthy, and it would make for a pretty bland diet, but only for fun, let’s run the numbers.

Eating Just Rice For A Month

  • The average person needs 2300 calories per day in a survival situation
  • 1 cup of cooked long-grain white rice has 206 calories
  • You need to eat roughly 11 1/4 cups of rice per day to get 2300 calories
  • For 30 days, one person needs 69,000 calories
  • If you ate just rice for 30 days, you would need to eat approximately 337 cups of cooked rice or about 45 lbs of dry white rice.

Cup Conversion Ratio For Cooked to Uncooked White Rice

You may have a recipe that calls for cups of cooked rice. It’s handy to know this conversion for that purpose. This conversion table will also allow you to figure out how many cups and calories you are getting out of a specific recipe and it will help you plan for calories and nutrition.

Chart #3 Uncooked to Cooked Rice Ratios (In Cups)

Uncooked White Rice (Cups)Cooked White Rice (Cups)
There are 206 calories in 1 cup of long-grain white rice.

How Much Rice is A Year’s Supply?

You need approximately 237 lbs of white rice for one person to last 365 days.

A well-rounded pantry would not depend on just white rice as the staple grain. A better storage plan would look something like this; 132 lbs of wheat, 65 lbs of white rice, 29 lbs of rolled oats, and 21 lbs of pasta.

For a detailed description of food storage requirements for a year, check out Ready Squirrel’s comprehensive article, How Much Food to Stockpile Per Person.

Can You Survive By Only Eating White Rice?

You could survive on long-grain white rice for quite some time, but it wouldn’t be healthy. White rice can make up a large portion of your diet, but it does not provide your body with the protein, essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that a healthy body requires.

Cooking Rice: Water to Rice Ratios

When you are planning your long-term, or emergency food storage don’t forget about the water you need to prepare food.

The ratio for the rice to water when cooking in a regular pan is 1 cup of long-grain white rice to 2 cups of water.

Tip: Rice expands quite a bit when cooked, so make sure your pan is big enough to hold the quantity of rice you are cooking.

Chart #4 Cooking Ratios, Rice to Water

Rice (cups)Water (cups)

13 Steps To Cook Rice On a Stove-top or a Campfire

Cooking on a campfire will be more challenging because it’s more difficult to control the temperature. Steps to cooking rice

  1. Bring water to a boil
  2. Season to taste (salt or butter)
  3. When the water reaches a rolling boil add rice
  4. Bring water back to a boil
  5. Reduce Heat
  6. Cover the cooking pot
  7. Try to keep the rice mixture at just below a boil (simmer)
  8. Rice mixture should have a slow bubbling but not a rapid boil
  9. Cook rice 17 to 20 minutes
  10. Remove heat
  11. Let sit 10 minutes so the rice will absorb the remainder of the water
  12. Stir or fluff rice with a fork or spoon
  13. Yum

8 Steps to Cooking Emergency Rice in a Thermos

Cooking in a thermos is a method of cooking rice you can use in survival or off-grid situation. Cooking this way takes less fuel. The title says cooking in a thermos, but you could do this in many different portable types of hiking pots and thermos as long as they have a lid that seals and won’t’ leak when placed on its side.

The rice may be a little undercooked, but it will be edible. You can experiment with the process to wire it in.

Tip: Cold Soaking white rice is not effective

8 Steps to Cooking Rice In a Thermos

  1. Determine the ratio of rice to water. (1 cup of white rice to 2 cups of water)
  2. Pour rice in a thermos
  3. Boil water
  4. Pour water into the thermos
  5. Place the lid on the thermos
  6. Place the container on its side, for the most water-to-rice contact
  7. Wait 2.5 hours
  8. Open the container and eat.

What Can I Use Rice for in My Pantry?

Rice doesn’t have much flavor, which makes it a perfect base for just about any meal. You can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. My family eats a lot of rice. Usually, we eat rice for lunch or dinner with some kind of meat and vegetable mixture. I put either soy sauce or Tabasco on my rice.

  • Cook in broth or use bullion cubes in the water
  • Add soy sauce (Soy sauce will last indefinitely in the pantry)
  • Eat with an egg
  • Mix in butter and honey and eat for breakfast
  • Use as a staple with foraged vegetables and meats
  • Add just about any edible spice or herb
  • Add just about any edible garden produce
  • Add milk and fruit and eat like oatmeal for breakfast
  • Add a dollop of peanut butter

Check out this free long-term food storage resource—Emergency Food Storage from the LDS church. I’m not LDS, but they do a great job with food storage. LDS Preparedness Manual: Click Here for PDF.

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