Having access to fresh bread during an emergency can be next to impossible, which is why many preppers tend to opt for canned bread as an alternative.
Canned bread is a great disaster prepping food. When stored properly, canned bread can retain its flavor and quality for 10 years, and potentially have a shelf-life of 50+ years, provided the can is undamaged and the contents are secured.
After extensively researching food storage preparation, I have gathered enough information to determine if canned bread is a good disaster prepping food. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the shelf-life of canned bread in more detail to help you incorporate this product into your emergency goods stockpile.
What Is Canned Bread?
A lot of people have never heard of canned bread and are often hesitant to add it to their rations lists. Much as the name implies canned bread comes in a can and is known for its extended shelf-life and peculiar packaging.
This product was popularized in the early 20th century and became a go-to meal when served with baked beans. Given the secure packaging of canned bread, it became a useful food for emergencies and adverse conditions, which is why the US Military supplied troops with it during the Second World War.
Unlike the bread that you buy at the store, canned bread is not known for being light and fluffy, and is instead dark and dense. It's loaded with nutrients and is generally made from grains that offer complex carbohydrates to your diet such as:
- Corn Flour
A key component of canned bread is molasses. By incorporating molasses into the ingredients, the expiration date of canned bread is pushed back considerably making it a very shelf-stable food.
Does Canned Bread Taste Good?
If you are used to the normal loaves of bread at the store, canned bread may not be what you expect. Forget the light and fluffy texture that you associate with normal bread, as canned bread is known for being more dense and chewy.
Canned bread is usually dark bread, which often results in mixed reviews from people who try it. You will find the flavor is a bit sweet and it may not be the best for every savory meal. However, it’s an excellent product to eat with sweet flavors and desserts. Overall, canned bread tastes good, especially when you eat it with the right food.
How To Eat Canned Bread
Given its chewy texture and often sweet flavor, canned bread is not going to fit every meal during an emergency. If you have butter, jam, or even cream cheese available, these are great things to eat canned bread with.
However, traditionally canned bread was served with baked beans, which is still a very common way for people to eat it today. For emergency purposes, preppers use canned bread to replace eating sweet baked goods like muffins and pastries.
Where To Buy Canned Bread
Canned bread is a widely available product that you can buy at virtually any supermarket. There are a handful of brands that make this chewy bread product, but the company that tends to be referenced the most is B&M.
Most grocery stores will carry B&M canned bread as a standard product. However, if you prefer to shop online, canned bread is even available at retailers such as Amazon and Walmart.
With many stores selling canned bread at just $2 per can, this is a budget-friendly good suitable for any emergency stockpile.
How Long Does Canned Bread Last?
Canned bread has an exceptional shelf life and can last for years or even decades in the right storage conditions. When you look at the packaging that canned bread comes in, you will see an expiration date of just 2 years. This should be looked at as a loose best-by date, which is not very reliable for determining how long canned bread actually lasts.
Many people store canned bread in their pantries for decades and have found the product to still be edible 50 years after the manufacturing date. The bottom line is if the container is undamaged and the contents are uncontaminated, canned bread can last indefinitely.
Is Canned Bread A Good Disaster Prepping Food?
Canned bread is an excellent disaster prepping food. One of the toughest things about creating a food storage stockpile is not being able to add any real bread to the supply, given its short shelf-life.
However, with canned bread in your stockpile, you can count on the product being safe to eat decades after it was canned and processed. As a general rule of thumb, you should try to eat canned bread within the first 10 years of its manufacturing date. Eating canned bread within this timeframe will ensure the product is safe to consume and retains its quality.
That said, you should be able to eat canned bread decades after it was made without having to worry about the bread becoming spoiled. These are the reasons why canned bread is a good disaster prepping food.
A key distinction between canned and regular bread is that canned products are made to be shelf-stable. Contamination from air and moisture results in regular bread going bad in just a matter of days.
The steaming and canning process that canned bread goes through prevents any kind of contamination from happening. In addition, canned bread is made with molasses which also helps boost the shelf-life and prevent the product from spoiling.
Canned food items are a crowd-favorite among preppers, which is why many people add canned bread to their stockpiles. The container alone makes canned bread very reliable for long-term storage, as it prevents contamination and is quite durable.
Since the contents are completely sealed from moisture and air, canned bread will not be affected by the external environment. In addition, the durability of the container also helps prevent damage from sabotaging the can over the years.
Nutrient Dense Food
When planning for an emergency, it’s important to keep your diet and nutrition in mind. Whether you are creating a stockpile for a week, month, or 1 year+, eating the right foods can make all the difference in how well you cope with the situation.
Canned bread is loaded with essential nutrients, particularly fiber and complex carbs. Unlike the traditional white bread you buy at the store, canned bread is generally dark and dense. Nutritionists recommend choosing dark over light bread, as you get more vitamins and nutrition from a single serving.
How To Extend The Shelf-Life Of Canned Bread
Canned bread has an exceptionally long shelf life and can easily last for decades and still be safe to eat. However, much like with any food product, the quality of canned bread will start to diminish over time.
You can expect canned bread that is 50 years old to taste noticeably worse than if it were just 5 years old. If you want canned bread to retain its quality and flavor years down the line, you should store the product properly.
To get the most out of your canned bread, store it in a cool, dry, and dark location and keep it away from direct sunlight. Ideally, you should try to store the canned bread at a temperature of 40F to 70F to help the quality from being impacted.
That said, any storage location that stays below 85F should be fine for canned bread. I recommend considering the following places in your home to store your canned bread:
- Kitchen Cabinets
Can I Make DIY Canned Bread?
Some folks have taken the DIY approach and have made their own canned bread, but I would advise against doing this for an emergency goods stockpile. While making your own bread can result in a better-tasting product, it will likely not be reliable for years to come.
The manufacturing process of canned bread is done in a professional and safe manner. This guarantees the shelf-life of canned bread and it mitigates the chances of contamination considerably.
If you want canned bread to last as long as possible, do not take the DIY route. Buy your canned bread from the store so you know you can count on the shelf-life for years.
How To Tell If Canned Bread Has Gone Bad
Canned bread has a very impressive shelf-life but the product will go bad eventually, even if it's decades after the manufacturing date.
Eating any kind of spoiled food that has been contaminated can be catastrophic during an emergency, which is why it's important to watch out for telltale signs to determine if the canned bread in your stockpile is safe to eat.
The bottom line is if you see the container of the canned bread is damaged, you should not eat it. Canned products only retain their quality and shelf-life if they are not exposed to the external environment.
If you notice any kind of damage such as punctures or holes, toss the product in the trash.
Canned bread generally smells quite neutral and should not have a powerful scent. Any canned bread that smells off should be discarded immediately.
If it doesn’t taste good, don’t eat it! Canned bread should taste sweet and delicious, which is why you should pay attention to any changes in flavor.
You may find that very old canned bread is still edible, but it may taste dull and less appetizing due to the quality deteriorating over the years. However, if you notice the flavor is grotesque, do not eat the canned bread under any circumstance.
When canned bread becomes hard, it either means the product was exposed to air or it’s very old.
Once canned bread loses its chewiness, it’s safe to say its quality has completely diminished and it's probably not worth eating.
This one’s really a no-brainer. Any signs of mold on your canned bread imply the product has completely gone off and should be thrown away immediately.
Alternatives To Canned Bread
Canned bread is not every person’s first choice during an emergency, but it is a very useful product to incorporate into a stockpile given its prolonged shelf-life.
That said, you may want to add some alternatives to your emergency goods so that you are not completely reliant on canned bread.
Bake Your Own Bread
The best way to eat bread during a disaster scenario is to learn how to bake it yourself. This will require storing essential ingredients such as:
Freeze Dried Bread
Another alternative is to buy freeze-dried bread. This product has an exceptionally long shelf-life and will fit right into any emergency stockpile.
Other Canned Goods
Don’t forget that virtually all canned foods are suitable for long-term storage. These products were designed to last and you can add various canned food items to your emergency goods to diversify your stockpile, such as:
- Canned Vegetables
- Canned Soups
- Canned Butter
- Canned Chicken
- Canned Fruit
- Canned Beans
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker