Even though they are considered a good emergency food, raisins are trickier to store than other dry staples because of their high moisture content.
Here’s what you need to know about raisin shelf life and how to store them long-term.
Do Raisins Go Bad?
Because raisins are dry and naturally high in sugar, they generally don’t support bacteria or other microbe growth. However, if stored somewhere humid, raisins will absorb moisture from the air and can start to get moldy.
Over time, nutrients in raisins can break down and lose flavor. It’s also common for pests like pantry moths to infest them. They will still be safe to eat, but most people don’t want to eat insect larva with their raisins.
Raisin Shelf Life
The shelf life of raisins is usually 12 months in the original packaging.
If kept somewhere dry, raisins will usually last for another 3 to 12 months after their expiration date but may have lost flavor and nutrients.
Raisins with preservatives like sulfur dioxide will last longer than ones without preservatives. Commercially-dried raisins also last longer than sun-dried ones.
Warning: Raisins, Oxygen Absorbers, and Botulism Poisoning
Typically, the best way to store dry foods long-term is with oxygen absorbers. Without oxygen, microbes like bacteria and fungi can’t grow. However, there is one exception: botulism.
Botulism bacteria can grow in oxygen-free environments so long as there is moisture. The bacteria then produce toxins that kill you. The problem is that raisins contain a lot of moisture. Thus, it is NOT safe to package raisins with oxygen absorbers.
How to Store Raisins Long Term
The key to storing raisins long-term is making sure they are protected from moisture and pests. To protect nutrients in the raisins, you also want to protect them from light and heat. Here are the best methods for doing so.
1. Mylar Bags with Oxygen Absorbers
But wait, didn’t I just warn you that raisins should never be stored with oxygen absorbers?
There is a workaround: you must first dry out the raisins further. They will then be safe enough to store with oxygen absorbers. Packaged like this, the raisins should be good for 10 to 15 years.
- Lay the raisins out on a clean surface.
- Use the bottom of a jar or other flat item to smash the raisins. Your goal is to break the skin, so they dehydrate easier.
- Put the raisins in your dehydrator. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can dehydrate them in your oven at a low setting.
- Dehydrate the raisins until they are completely dry. They should be hard little rocks.
- Leave the dried raisins to condition. This involves putting them in a closed container and allowing the moisture to distribute evenly.
- Now you can safely package them in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.
Read detailed instructions on how to store food in Mylar bags.
2. Mason Jars
Mason jars with two-piece lids provide an airtight seal. This will protect the raisins from humid air and keep them from getting moldy. Mason jars are also effective at keeping pests out.
The flavor of the raisins might change, but they should last several years stored like this. I’d still recommend checking on them occasionally and thoroughly rotating your supply!
- Put the raisins in the jar.
- Don’t pack them in too tightly, or you will cause moisture pockets to form.
- Put a desiccant on top of the raisins.
- Close the jar.
- Keep it somewhere cool, dark, and safe from breaking.
3. Vacuum Sealer Jars
Because vacuum sealing doesn’t remove all oxygen from the container, it is a safe storage method for storing raisins: you don’t have to worry about botulism poisoning. FoodSaver is the most popular vacuum sealer for jars, but there are other options too. If kept in a cool, dark place, raisins should last at least 3 years stored like this.
Can I store raisins in vacuum sealer bags?
Generally, vacuum sealer bags are not a good long-term food storage method (read why). Plus, vacuum-sealing raisins will result in a massive blob.
If you don’t mind a giant blob of raisin, you can go ahead and vacuum seal them. It should help increase shelf life at least a bit. But you’ll also want to keep the bags in a food-safe container with a good lid to help protect against humidity and pests.
Raisins will last indefinitely in the freezer. The raisins can absorb some bad smells from the freezer and clump into a giant blob, though.
There are ways to prevent this:
- Spread the raisins out on a tray and put them in the freezer for an hour. This pre-freezing step prevents the raisins from sticking together into one giant raisin blob.
- Once the raisins are frozen, remove them from the tray.
- Double wrap the raisins in heavy-duty freezer bags. This will keep the raisins from absorbing smells from your freezer.