How To Store Cornmeal Long-Term | Build a Stash

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Key Takeaways

  • To store cornmeal long-term use either mylar bags, vacuum-sealed bags, food-grade buckets, airtight containers, or the freezer.
  • Add an oxygen absorber to your preferred storage method, and be sure to place the cornmeal in a cool, dry, and dark location that is away from direct sunlight and moisture.
  • If stored in the right conditions, cornmeal can last for upwards of 10 to 20+ years.

Cornmeal is an essential food item that so many preppers and survivalists keep in their stockpiles, but how do you store it long-term?

To store cornmeal long-term use either mylar bags, vacuum-sealed bags, food-grade buckets, airtight containers, or the freezer. Add an oxygen absorber to your preferred storage method, and place the cornmeal in a cool, dry, and dark location - away from direct sunlight and moisture.

After extensively researching food storage techniques and survival skills, I have gathered enough information to determine how to store cornmeal long-term. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the best storage methods for improving the shelf-life of cornmeal in your emergency goods stockpile.

Table of contents


How Long Does Cornmeal Last?

Cornmeal is an excellent addition to any food storage stockpile. This delicious and dynamic emergency food can be used for many meals and is a great way to diversify your cooking during an emergency.

However, when you check the expiration date on the back of cornmeal packages, you will likely see that it indicates a shelf-life of just 6 to 12 months. While this may be fine for your kitchen pantry and everyday meals, it’s not going to be suitable for a sophisticated food storage system.

By taking additional measures to secure the shelf-life of cornmeal, you can make it last for upwards of 10 to 20+ years before it starts to go bad. That said, pushing the expiration date back this much requires implementing food storage techniques such as using the right containers, choosing a reliable storage location, and buying the right products.

Which Cornmeal Lasts the Longest

If you want to make your cornmeal last as long as possible, you need to consider that each product is going to have a slightly different shelf life. Quality cornmeal from a reputable brand that has been processed properly before packaging will ensure the lifespan of the product is not compromised.

That said, you should also prioritize specific types of cornmeal for your stockpile, as some are much more reliable for long-term storage than others.

Bolted vs Unbolted Cornmeal

The two most common types of cornmeal that you see in stores are either bolted or unbolted. For long-term food storage, I highly encourage you to opt for bolted cornmeal rather than unbolted.

Bolted cornmeal has a considerably better shelf life and is a crowd-favorite among preppers and survivalists. When cornmeal is processed, it goes through a sifting or “bolting” process that refines the product.

With bottled cornmeal, the germ and hull are removed. These contain oils and fats, which can cause your cornmeal to go bad much faster.

The only downside to buying bolted cornmeal is that you lose some of the nutrients from the product. While maintaining health and nutrition during an emergency is important, it’s better to focus on longevity when building a stockpile.

Finely Ground vs Coarse Cornmeal

Cornmeal is available in a variety of consistencies, with fine and coarse grinds being the most popular selections. Some people like to use cornmeal for specific types of meals, such as corn flour as a substitute for wheat flour.

That is why finely ground cornmeal is the best option for long-term storage. You can use finely ground cornmeal for so many different types of meals and it even has an improved lifespan compared to coarse grinds.

Coarsely ground cornmeal from corn kernels contains additional oils and fats that are rich in nutrients but bad for storage. By finely grinding down cornmeal, a lot of these fats and oils are removed from the product, which pushes back the shelf-life considerably. The bottom line is that you should avoid whole corn kernels at all costs and any cornmeal with a coarse grind.

How to Store Cornmeal Long-Term

Although buying the right type of cornmeal can greatly affect how long it lasts, solidifying the shelf-life of this product is all about implementing proper food storage techniques.

If you want your goods to last for years or even decades, you need to consider the conditions carefully when storing corn meal. There are plenty of tried and true methods that you can use to store your cornmeal at home and make it last for upwards of 20+ years.

This requires using the right storage containers, as there are a lot of different options out there. In addition, you also need to choose the right storage location. There are plenty of places around the house to store your cornmeal, and some are much more reliable for long-term storage than others.

Best Storage Containers for Cornmeal

When picking out storage containers for cornmeal, you need to determine how long you want the product to last, as each method equates to a different shelf-life. Are you creating a food storage system that you want to count on for the next year or two, or are you thinking in decades?

You should also reflect on the amount of cornmeal that you want to store. Some of the most effective storage methods guarantee a shelf-life of 10 to 20+ years, but the packaging may only allow you to fit a small amount of your total stock.

That said, it’s important to select a storage method that delivers on shelf-life, as well as practicality. Consider the following storage containers for your cornmeal.

Mylar Bags + Oxygen Absorbers (10 to 20+ Years)

Mylar Bags + Oxygen Absorbers
Mylar Bags + Oxygen Absorbers

Mylar bags have been a game-changer for food storage stockpiles, and they are a go-to pick among preppers. These bags were designed to safely store food items and improve their shelf-life, which is why they are one of the most reliable containers for your cornmeal.

By properly storing your cornmeal in mylar bags, you can make it last for upwards of 20+ years in the right conditions. While using mylar bags alone can already amount to cornmeal lasting for years, I would strongly encourage you to incorporate oxygen absorbers with this storage method.

Oxygen absorbers combined with mylar bags are a powerhouse for long-term storage. The oxygen absorbers will remove any air left in the mylar bags to secure the shelf-life for decades.

Vacuum-Sealed Bags + Oxygen Absorbers (10+ Years)

Vacuum-Sealed Bags
Vacuum-Sealed Bags

Vacuum sealing is a very useful strategy for food storage. With this method, you can remove air from the container storing your cornmeal to improve its shelf life and mitigate the risk of contamination.

Naturally, you will need a vacuum sealer if you want to store your cornmeal with this approach. In addition, you will need vacuum sealer bags that are “food-grade” quality.

The great thing about owning a vacuum sealer at home is that you can then use this method to store various types of goods in your food storage system. Keep in mind that vacuum-sealed bags are quite vulnerable to damage, particularly from pests.

I suggest that you place your vacuum-sealed cornmeal inside an additional container that cannot be chewed through. Lastly, make sure to add an oxygen absorber to every bag of cornmeal that you vacuum seal, as this will improve the shelf-life of the product.

Food Grade Buckets + Oxygen Absorbers (5 to 10+ Years)

Food Grade Buckets
Food Grade Buckets

Food-grade buckets are an essential part of so many preppers’ stockpiles. These buckets are food-safe and designed specifically for long-term storage, making them one of the most reliable methods for storing cornmeal.

The biggest selling point of using food-grade buckets over any other storage method is their size. Unlike mylar and vacuum-sealed bags which only fit around 1 gallon (or less) of cornmeal, you can store up to 5 gallons in a single food-grade bucket.

This is a particularly effective approach for storing cornmeal given that most preppers generally keep at least 5 gallons of cornmeal (often a lot more) in their stockpiles. You can pour cornmeal into a 5-gallon food-grade bucket and then seal it before placing it into your storage. For the best results, I recommend adding an oxygen absorber to reduce any chance of contamination.

Airtight Containers + Oxygen Absorbers (5 to 10+ Years)

Airtight Containers
Airtight Containers

Airtight containers may not offer the most prolonged shelf-life for your cornmeal, but their practicality makes them one of the most popular options for storing food.

You may already have a set of airtight containers at home that you use for storing leftovers and other types of food in your kitchen. If you decide to use airtight containers that have been used, make sure to thoroughly sanitize them before adding any cornmeal.

Alternatively, you can buy a quality airtight container that is suitable for food storage. Make sure that any product you buy has a lid and a seal that will prevent moisture and air from contaminating your cornmeal.

With just an airtight container, you can expect your cornmeal to last around 2 years. However, by placing an oxygen absorber inside before you seal the container, cornmeal can last for at least 5 years.

Freezer (20+ Years)

While the freezer is not always the first choice for storing cornmeal among preppers, it’s hands down the most effective approach for securing the shelf-life of just about any product.

Keeping your cornmeal in the freezer will essentially eliminate any chance of contamination. The cool temperature and contained environment prevent bacteria from spreading and will also ensure that oxygen and moisture do not make content with your cornmeal.

You must still use an additional food storage method such as airtight containers, mylar bags, or heavy-duty freezer bags before placing your cornmeal in the freezer. Doing so will essentially give your cornmeal an indefinite shelf-life.

The only real issue with freezing cornmeal is that freezer space can be an issue. In addition, you also need to consider how reliable this method is in case the power goes out, as electricity is not guaranteed for every emergency.

Best Storage Locations for Cornmeal

Once you’ve committed to a food storage container for your cornmeal, you need to choose an ideal storage location.

There are plenty of great places around the house to store your cornmeal long-term, but you ultimately need to consider the layout of your residence to determine what works best for you.

Any storage location you choose should be moisture-free and away from direct sunlight. A cool, dry, and dark place will guarantee that your cornmeal is not negatively affected by the external environment. Consider the following storage locations for your cornmeal:

  • Basement
  • Pantry
  • Wine Cellar
  • Kitchen Cabinets

Tips for Storing Cornmeal Long-Term

Cornmeal is an excellent food item to add to your food storage stockpile. Properly stored cornmeal can last for upwards of 10 to 20+ years, making it a very reliable good for long-term storage.

The best way to store cornmeal really depends on how long you want it to last and how much you want to store in a single container. To get the best results from your food storage and to make your cornmeal last as long as possible, keep the following tips in mind.

1. Prevent Pests

Your stored cornmeal is not going to last very long if pests can make their way into your stockpile. It’s important to take measures to prevent pests from accessing your goods, as this can ruin all of your emergency supplies if you are not careful.

Make sure to choose a good location and also a storage method that pests such as rats cannot chew through.

2. Use Labels

Whether you are using covered airtight containers, food-grade buckets, or mylar bags, always remember to label the container after adding cornmeal inside.

The label should indicate the contents, predicted expiration date, and the packaging date of the product.

3. Rotate Stock

Rotating the emergency goods in your stockpile is essential if you want to keep your cornmeal fresh. Although cornmeal can technically last for years or even decades, the quality of the product will start to deteriorate over time.

To ensure that you always have fresh cornmeal, rotate your stock with new products that you buy from the store.