At BerryBreeze™, we’re all about finding new ways to prevent food waste – but carrying our leftovers around in our pockets is an idea that never once occurred to us. In July of 1999, David Whipple picked up a hamburger from a McDonald’s in Utah, figuring he’d run a little test to see just how long the thing would last before spoiling. A few weeks later, the burger looked pretty much the same – only the pickle had begun to deteriorate. He showed his friends, then put it in his coat and forgot about it for a couple of years. When he checked back in, it still looked good (though now the pickle was gone). That was pretty amazing, so he kept it around for another twelve or so years.
When Whipple and his wife unwrapped it in 2013, there was still no spoilage. The immortal burger’s been taken off of eBay (after fetching a bid of $2,000) and has escaped the jaws of an overly-ambitious radio deejay due to liability concerns. It’s slightly shriveled and as hard as a hockey puck, but it looks about the same as it did way back in the late ‘90s.
It’s easy to assume that industrial-strength preservatives are fast food’s version of Botox, but the real reason some drive-thru fare seems to last forever is, apparently, a lack of moisture. Remember, humans have used various drying processes for thousands of years to produce jerky, pemmican and other long lasting foods. At McDonalds, this is a total accident. It’s something that just happens whether you intend it or not – much like an actual trip to McDonalds.
Your own kitchen probably contains some truly long lasting foods, and if you’re someone who thinks about ways to prevent food waste, you probably already know a few of them. How many of our top five picks do you have in your kitchen?
5 Surprisingly Long Lasting Foods
1. Honey. Granulated sugar is generally too dry for mold and bacteria, but honey is the real king of long lasting foods. If you store it in a cool, dry place and keep it sealed, your jar of honey could last centuries. There’s so little water in honey that it actually draws the moisture out of bacteria, and it has an acidic pH that further protects against spoilage.
2. White Rice. White rice is a staple food for about half of the world’s population, and it provides about one-fifth of the total calories consumed around the globe. When stored in a sealed container in a cool place, white rice can stay fresh for 30 years (brown rice, on the other hand, will spoil before it even gets to celebrate a birthday). An amazing shelf life, cheap production costs and high nutritional value are just three of the things that make white rice such an important food.
3. Hard Tack. Okay, we’ll grant that this one isn’t exactly a pantry essential, but when it comes to long lasting foods that don’t require artificial preservatives, hard tack is another champ. A simple biscuit made from flour and water, hard tack was used throughout history to keep people fueled when cooking was inconvenient. Sailors often ate it during long ocean voyages, and it was a key ration for soldiers during the Civil War. Some of those Civil War biscuits were even re-purposed leftovers from the Mexican-American War, making them about 20 years old. Hard tack is surprisingly popular in Alaska to this day, although not much that Alaskans do should really surprise anyone.
4. Clarified Butter. If you’ve ever accidentally spread rancid butter on your toast, you know just how unpleasant this dairy staple gets when it expires. Refrigerated butter will last for couple of months at most, but there is a way to dramatically increase its shelf life.
When butter is heated for long enough, the water component evaporates and the milk solids drop out of solution. The resulting liquid, a pure butterfat, is called clarified butter. It remains stable (even at room temperature) for much longer than normal butter, and when sealed properly it’ll stay fresh indefinitely. Clarified butter is great for sautéing and frying, and a caramelized variation known as ghee is an integral part of Indian cuisine.
5. Hard Liquor. All these staples and emergency foods are great, but if you spend too much time thinking about ways to keep food fresh, you’ll go crazy. It’s time to take the edge off. We’re talking about alcohol, and germs hate the stuff because it dissolves bacterial proteins and dehydrates cells. Hard liquor, like vodka or whiskey, will last for a long, long time when unopened. How long? Check back at the end of time, right around when the universe suffers its inevitable entropic heat death.
Those foods are cool and all (and hopefully that made for some interesting trivia), but what about fresh fruits and veggies? Sure, you can preserve them by canning, freezing or pickling, but every organic living fan knows they’re best straight from the garden.
If you’ve got a fridge full of fresh produce and you want to prevent food waste, let BerryBreeze™ help you extend the shelf life of your favorite foods for days or even weeks longer. BerryBreeze™ works to neutralize microbes and ethylene gas inside your refrigerator – and when bacteria and mold find it hard to get a foothold, guess what? Your lettuce, berries, peppers, soups and stews will stay fresher longer. You’ll love what BerryBreeze™ does for the shelf life of your favorite produce, and you’ll love the clean, fresh smell just as much.
Do you have any favorite long lasting foods that don’t include a cream filling or unpronounceable ingredients? If we’ve forgotten something obvious, let us know in the comments section below!