How to Store Rice For The Long Term


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Last Updated: May 17, 2022

Rice is considered a non-perishable food and, in theory, can last years in your pantry.  However, if you don’t store it properly, rice will eventually go bad.

Here’s what you need to know about rice shelf life and storage methods that will keep rice from spoiling for years or even decades.

Does Rice Go Bad?

Like with all dry staples, rice will go bad if it is subjected to moisture, oxygen, heat, or light.  Moisture is particularly problematic as rice acts like a sponge. If you store the rice in a high-humidity area, the rice will absorb moisture from the air and can eventually get moldy.

Oxygen, heat and light are also very problematic for whole-grain rice; they will make the healthy oils in the rice start to go rancid fairly quickly.  This is why brown rice has a much shorter shelf life than white rice.  Even white rice can go bad though, especially in high temperatures.

How Long Can Rice Last?

White rice will generally last for 4-5 years stored in the pantry, even after the “best by” date.

Brown rice will generally last at around 6 months past its best-by date. However, if you don’t take precautions, your rice storage could easily become infested by insects.

Proper storage methods will prevent infestations and allow rice to last 25+ years.

What Are Rice Bugs?

rice weevil

You can’t see them on the rice, but it’s likely there are insect eggs on the rice when you buy it.  The culprits are usually moths or weevils.

If you let the rice sit in your pantry long enough, the eggs will hatch and develop into adults.  Those adults go on to lay more eggs and suddenly you’ve got a massive infestation in your pantry.

Rice weevils are actually safe to eat and even add some extra nutrients.  However, a lot of people are grossed out by the idea of eating insects and end up throwing away all the infested rice.

To keep your rice stockpile safe, it’s best to take steps to prevent rice bugs, such as freezing or microwaving the rice before storage.

Read: how to prevent insects in your food storage and does rice turn into maggots.

Best Way to Store Rice

It’s not recommended to store rice in the plastic packaging it came in; there’s simply too much risk of insect infestation or damage from the elements.  Instead, use one of these methods to store your rice safely.

Method 1: Air-Tight Containers

Shelf Life: 4 years (white rice), 6-8 months (brown rice)

The main reason to store rice in air-tight containers rather than the packaging it came in is to prevent insect infestations. If insects hatch inside the container, at least they won’t be able to escape and infest the rest of your pantry. You should still take steps to kill any insect eggs though, such as by freezing or microwaving the rice first.

Keep the rice containers in a cool, dark place.  Heat is especially damaging to brown rice; reducing temperature can double shelf life.


Method 2: Freezer

Shelf Life: Indefinitely (white rice), 2 years (brown rice)

White rice will last indefinitely in the freezer.   I could not find one scholarly article which actually researched the shelf life of uncooked brown rice in the freezer.  Most websites put the shelf life at 2 years but offer no evidence of where this recommendation comes from.

Regardless, putting grains in the freezer isn’t the best solution for long-term storage.  If a power outage occurs, condensation will quickly build up in the freezer and the rice will absorb this quickly, resulting in spoilage.


Method 3: Vacuum Sealing

Shelf Life: 4+ years (white rice), up to 2 years (brown rice)

Vacuum sealing isn’t the best storage method for white rice.  The main issue is that vacuum-sealer bags are not air-tight; they will eventually allow air and moisture through.  Since white rice can already last a long time in basic storage containers, you aren’t really gaining anything by vacuum-sealing.

With brown rice though, vacuum sealing does help a bit.  This is because brown rice is more susceptible to damage from oxygenation, so removing air by vacuum sealing does help extend shelf life.

Note that rice is very pointy and can stab through vacuum sealer bags.  Consider lining the vacuum sealer bags first so the rice doesn’t poke holes in them.

See Mylar Bags vs. Vacuum Sealing for Food Storage


Method 4: Containers with Oxygen Absorbers

Shelf Life: 5+ years (white rice), 1+ year (brown rice)

One of the simplest ways to store rice is to put it in clean containers, such as jars or food-grade buckets. If you take the extra step of adding an oxygen absorber packet to the container, the food will be protected from spoilage due to oxidation and last much longer.  Without oxygen, insect eggs won’t be able to hatch.

Unfortunately, the seal on buckets, plastic containers and recycled jars isn’t the best. They will eventually start to leak air.  You’ll also need to add new oxygen absorbers each time you open the container.

Read more about using oxygen absorbers for long-term food storage.


Method 5: Mylar Bags with Oxygen Absorbers

Shelf Life: 30+ years (white rice), 2-5 years (brown rice)

Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers is by far the best long-term storage method for dry staples like rice.

To use, you put rice in the Mylar bags with oxygen absorber packets and then seal the bags closed.  Because Mylar is impermeable and metallic, the rice will be protected against damage from oxidation, light and insects.

Brown rice will still eventually go bad because of its high oil content but white rice can last over 30 years like this.

Read more about how to store rice in Mylar bags

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  1. I vacuum sealed brown rice into two large batches for freezer storage. I intend on pulling each one out as needed and placing the rice from the vacuum sealed bag into a air tight store bought container and storing the container in the refrigerator for use over about a 4-6 month timeframe. Is this okay?

    Reply
    • Yes, that should work great. I personally don’t have enough room in my refrigerator. So, I just take it directly from the freezer when I want to use it (it is repackaged into family-size portions so I use exactly 1 bag).

      Reply
      • Is it ok to use oxygen absorbers in a big plastic storage bin for large quantities of rice. I want to store a 25 pound bag.

        Reply
        • You can do that, but you will need to do the math to figure out how many aborbers the bucket will need, and it will be quite a lot. Two absorbers are decent for a quart jar, 4 quarts in a gallon, 5 gallons in a bucket=40 absorbers. Dry Ice may be a cheaper way to go.

          Reply
        • Storage bins don’t create an air-tight seal when closed. So, oxygen will get into the bin — making the OAs useless. You’ve really got to put the food in a truly airtight container like a sealed Mylar bag.

          Reply
          • What if you used food grade 5 gallon buckets that have a rubber o ring around the seal? Specifically I have been using used pickle buckets from fire house subs, you can get them for $3. Just got to clean the. And deal with the pickle odor.

  2. When using the mylar bag and oxygen absorber method, is it still ok to not use a vacuum sealer ? Physically pushing the air out and then putting the absorber in is enough ? Thanks

    Reply
  3. When freezing I like to have 4-6 serving packages to eliminate waste and re-freezing. For bulk pantry storage I use a “flip” bucket so rotation is easier.

    Reply
  4. I’m mew to long term food storage so forgive what may have answered before, but do I need to freeze white rice to kill any potential insect eggs before sealing in mylar bags with O2 absorbers?

    Reply
    • I generally find dry canning to be not worth the time or effort — especially since you can only store a small amount of rice in a jar anyway and jars will easily break during most common disasters. I personally live somewhere with occassional earthquakes and flooding; none of my long-term preps are in glass.

      Reply
    • I do the dry canning method for rice and beans. Heat and sterilize the jars first at 230 for 45 minutes. Fill with rice and back into the oven for 2 hours. Pull out and seal with lids and rings, tight! After 30 minutes you’ll hear the lids start to ping. Heat will kill any bugs and it helps dry the rice out. I should mention it’s white rice. Brown rice you put into jars with oxygen absorbers and seal with a canning topper and vaccum sealer.

      Reply
  5. i have some precooked and dried rice that was stored in 100 gram sachels with oxygen absorber for a long period .it was made in 1996 it rehydrates ok and tastes ok will it be ok to eat . there is a large volume of it

    Reply
  6. Hi, Most people on other websites are saying brown rice in even in Mylar Bags with Oxygen Absorbers wont’ last more then 9 months. Do you have a resource to store brown rice for 2+ years?

    Reply
    • Mylar with oxygen absorbers is still the best way to go. But there is no guaranteed shelf life. With anythign that contains lots of oils (like other whole grains, nuts, seeds…) the key is keeping the temperature low. In hot weather, the oils will go rancid much faster. They don’t go bad at a specific date either. It’s a gradual process. At 9 months they might taste funky but still be “edible” by some people’s standards.

      Reply
    • The brown rice that I cooked in my instant pot Thursday night has been in my pantry for over 8 years. It is fine, tastes great – Lundberg short grain organic brown rice from Costco. Comes in a big bag that lasts a very long time… The ‘Best By’ date was in 2014. I also have long grain brown rice that is probably older, again, we eat it occasionally. It went straight from the bag to a bucket with a gamma seal lid. All these armchair survivalists are a hoot – if 8 year old brown rice is not “okay”, most of these folks are going to have *big problems* if anything serious comes down the pike.

      Reply
      • How have you stored your brown rice? We eat brown rice very often. I’m new to this. But I definitely see what is coming and am taking action.

        Reply
  7. How about the different Types of white rice? (i.e. White, Jasmine, Basmati)
    Is there a better or is this just a preference?
    Thank you
    Jay

    Reply
    • Vacuum sealer bags aren’t actually air-tight. They will slowly let some air through. So, using oxygen absorbers will help keep them fresh longer but Mylar is the way to go for long-term storage.

      Reply
      • You are wrong period.
        Vacuum Sealer bags are non permissive to air..They are made with the same material that makes Mylar bags air tight
        The metallic coating just keeps light out.. I wish people would research( (Google it at least) or have the experience to say things. I do both 30 plus years of experience with vacuum sealing and I use Mylar when I seal things in small amounts that I don’t want in light

        Reply
        • Thank you Michael, I did as you suggested and I asked Google “What is better Mylar bags or vacuum seal bags?” Google’s reply was If you really want to protect food for a long period of time in open air, Myler bags are your best option. Over the period of many years, vacuum seals may break, allowing air to creep inside.
          It is nice to know that you have never had any problem with your vacuum seal. I do have a vacuum seal so I may try it.

          Reply
        • Hey man. I just sealed 20lbs of jasmine rice. Packaged 3cups inside paper bag and then vacuum sealed. Then o store the sealed rice inside a food grade bucket with gamma lid. I couldn’t imagine this not working at well if not better than just oxy absorbers and Mylar. I would think if anything the vacuum methods inside a bu key would at least compare.

          Reply
  8. What about placing rice in a sealed container and filling with CO2 … such as in an old beer keg? Is there something about the CO2 that will affect the rice long term, or will replacing O2 with CO2 stop spoilage?

    Reply
    • Some people use a method called “nitrogen purging” to push out all of the oxygen from a container. However, it’s fairly complicated to do. Oxygen absorbers are much cheaper and easier and thus (IMO) a better option for most people.

      Reply
    • Dry Ice…its cheap easy and usually readily available. Be sure to avoid dry ice that has frost on it as it will introduce moisture into your food. you can avoid this by breaking up a big chunk of dry ice and only using pieces out of the center of the block, but do it quickly.

      I’ve tried Mason Jars (dont stay sealed for more than a few years, Mylar bags and Vacuum seal bags with absorbers aren’t bulletproof either. My testing (10 year) showed gamma seal buckets treated with dry ice are the way to go. I only store with the buckets now. The buckets may have turned out better for me since I never moved them once stored.

      Reply
      • If your Mason jars don’t stay sealed for more than a few years then you’re doing something wrong. Back in the late 70’s I ate food canned in the 50’s and the seals (and food) was just fine.

        Reply
  9. Is it overkill to vacuum seal rice beans pasta, and then add this tight package to a Mylar bag with o2 absorbers and heat seal the Mylar?

    Reply
    • Yes, it’s overkill. 🙂 It’s actually not a great idea to vacuum seal foods before putting them in Myla with O2. The vacuum sealer bags might keep the O2 absorbers from reaching the food and doing their job. Keep in mind that a lot of the oxygen in beans is actually INSIDE the beans so you want the O2 absorbers getting this oxygen and not just the oxygen around the food.

      Reply
  10. How is it that storing in a container with oxygen absorbers extends the shelf life of rice longer than vacuum sealing? A container with oxygen absorbers is not vacuum sealed in the first place so I don’t see how the oxygen absorber could make that much of a difference. You say the vacuum sealed bags will leak air eventually. Will the storage containers not do the same?

    Reply
    • Vacuum sealing will extend the shelf life, but not as long as oxygen absorbers. Air can easily leak into vacuum sealer bags. The seal can break on some cheap vacuum containers. On top of this, the vacuum sealer only removes air from around the food and not air located INSIDE the food. This isn’t too big of a problem with rice but some foods (beans, for example) have lots of oxygen inside of them.

      Reply
    • It should last for years but it depends on the humidity levels. Those vacuum sealer bags will eventually let moisture through. After a long time, the rice could theoretically get moldy. Sorry I can’t give you an exact number.

      Reply
  11. I’m glad I found this forum. I was wondering about brown rice in mylar bags, and you have given me some reassurance that it will at least be OK from 9 months to 2 years in Mylar bags. What about sprouted grains and beans? Like sprouted quinoa, sprouted black beans. How will they do in mylar bags with O2 absorbers?

    Reply
    • That’s a really good question. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer. I’m guessing that the grains would indeed go bad much faster because they’ve already been soaked in water, allowed to sprout and then dried. personally, I would just use mylar + o2 absorbers on unsprouted grains as this has been tested. You can always sprout the grains yourself before eating (which may be a smarter way to eat them during power outages anyway, because who wants to waste precious fuel to cook beans, grains, etc.)

      Reply
  12. Regarding white rice stored long term in Mylar bags, will the bag impart a metallic (or any other) taste/flavor to the rice?

    Reply
  13. I’ve already vacuumed sealed my brown rice. Would you recommend putting in the freezer for a few days before taking it to the cellar or storage?

    Reply
    • Definitely not. Freezing causes moisture to pool. When it defrosts, you can end up with puddles of wetness in the food. Just make sure you keep the brown rice cool and rotate through it in a reasonable amount of time. As for insect control, I personally prefer mylar bags with oxygen absorbers because no eggs will hatch in an oxygen-less environment.

      Reply
    • It is more like white than brown. You can tell by looking at the fat content of the rice: White and converted rice have 0grams. Brown rice has at least some.

      Reply
  14. I’m confused when you say vacuum sealing eventually lets air and moisture in. Isn’t the point of vacuum sealing that it keeps out air and moisture? Are you saying the bags degrade over time? What if they are kept inside, undisturbed, away from light? Are they still going to eventually allow air and moisture in?

    Reply
    • Yes the seal isn’t that good and lets in air over the course of months or a year. Also the bags allow tiny amount of air thru the plastic, which over the course of the year is enough to contribute some to spoiling. Mylar, because of the metal layer, allows almost no air even after years. And it usually has a better seal and the absorbers take care of the small amount of water/oxygen that seeps through the seal.

      Reply
    • Apparently there are tiny holes in the bags which will slowly (very slowly) allow air and moisture in. This isn’t an issue for short-term storage but is an issue if you want to store food in vacuum bags long term.

      Reply
  15. It’s next to impossible to get a hold of food-safe buckets or mylar bags these days. I recently moved to Central America, and so it’s even harder to get things shipped here. How would rice or beans store in glass jars? I am unable to get canning jars here, but can sometimes find reusable glass jars. It’s a hot and humid climate here. How much shorter would the shelf life be?

    Reply
    • Heat and humidity definitely shorten shelf life. It’s hard to give an exact number though. Heat makes the fats in whole grains go rancid. They are still technically edible (won’t make you sick like bacteria does) but the taste is sour and kind of gross. High humidity could cause mold to grow on the foods though, and that definitely is not safe.

      Another issue you’ll have with glass jars is insects. They can get in even with the lid on (speaking from experience here!).

      Maybe try Aliexpress for Mylar bags. they will take months to arrive but the quality is usually fine and the prices are cheap. You can also try to befriend someone who owns a food-related business to order some oxygen absorbers and other supplies for you. Lots of places will only deliver to registered businesses.

      Reply
  16. You mentioned microwaving or freezing rice first prior to the chosen method of storage. What is the process for that? (time, temp., etc). I have 2 smaller bags of Jasmin rice that I’d planned on freezing first for bugs and then storing in vacuum sealed bags. I’d wondered too about condensation with freezing/thawing and it seems the microwave method would be better. I didn’t know vacuum sealed bags eventually let in air/moisture, what do you think of double bagging/sealing them?

    Reply
  17. I put all of my Lundberg Basmati Brown Rice and Wild Rice Blend, as well as all of my wheat and rye berries, into 1/2 gallon mason jars, and then vacuum seal then to -15 hg. Even after MANY months, when I open a 1/2 gallon jar to fill a smaller, more portion size jar, there is always a whoosh of air rushing into the jar when I open it indicating that the vacuum seal held up with no leakage!

    Reply
    • If it smells okay and doesn’t have any visible signs of mold, it probably is. But I’m definitely not guaranteeing anything. 🙂 Eat it at your own risk.

      Reply
  18. George
    I have an idea. We have empty clean gallon pickle jars. How about vacuum sealing
    Rice, noodles, spaghetti etc. 2 servings per bag. Rolling up each bag tightly and then loading them in the pickle jars with rubber seals and screw on lids? Shelf life?
    Just thinking out of the box.

    Reply
    • Those jars aren’t actually airtight. So, the food wil eventually oxidize. It might not “go bad” in that it becomes unsafe to eat, but nutrients will deteriorate and fats go rancid faster. Those foods generally aren’t too susceptible to oxidation though, so should be fine for 1-5 years stored that way. Just be careful with rice — insects love it and can easily get into those jars. You’d be amazed what Indian meal moths can get into!

      Reply
  19. I vacuum sealed rice(long grain white) in ordinary food saver bags last year, kept in the basement on a shelf. Decided to check the bags after reading the article and comments. The bags are still tightly vacuum sealed, but the rice has slightly turned brown. I opened a small bag to inspect the rice. Smells ok, but the rice feels oily. Any idea if this is still good? I’m thinking about just tossing it and starting over with mylar bags and oxygen absorbers

    Reply
    • I would toss it. 🙁 The fact that it changed color and is oily is not a good sign. The discoloration may be mold from being kept in the basement. It’s generally realllly bad to keep food in the basement. I get people have space issues in their homes (I live in a tiny home!). Instead of putting food in the basement, try moving some other items into the basement and then using that space for food storage.

      Reply
      • The basement is sealed, has a dehumidifier, and generally stays below 75 degrees. It is air conditioned in the summer and is heated in the winter.

        Reply
  20. What do you think about parboiling brown rice, dehydrating it and then storing in mylar with o2 absorbers? How long do you think that would last and is it a good idea?

    Reply
    • I’m not sure if it would last longer if cooked first. But I tried this for backpacking meals. (I cook then dehyrate pasta and some other carbs to turn them into “instant” meals). Strangely, the cooked-then-dehydrated brown rice took 30+ minutes to get soft. So, you might as well just store uncooked brown rice since it will take nearly as long to become edible.

      Reply
  21. I read many replies that say the rice stored in jars with oxy absorbers will not allow the insects to hatch. What about AFTER they are opened, will the insects hatch then or do the OA kill them?

    Reply
    • I’m not sure. It’s possible that some insect eggs might survive. But that’s why I never open my food supply until I’m ready to use it. AND I make sure to package it in reasonable-sized amounts so I don’t have to crack open a 20lb bag of beans 🙂

      Reply
  22. I have about 75 pounds of US grown organic brown rice that is super good, harvested this last year. Someone sent me a video saying that oxygen absorbers can allow botulism in brown rice when vacuum sealed. That the low oxygen environment can allow for botulism. Is this true? I would appreciate some more input on this. I don’t want to have to redo all my vacuum sealed rice with oxygen absorbers in them. I have never heard of botulism dried brown rice.

    Reply
  23. Not one mention about freeze drying rice in a freeze dryer. Is this not good to do? Freeze dry then put in mylar bag with oxygen absorber.
    If good which rice works best? White, brown, parboiled?

    Reply
  24. So if I use Mylar bags and OA’s for rice and flour in the portion size needed for my family, is it good to store them in the freezer until needed to get the longest life out of the product?

    Reply

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