Dry pasta is one of the best foods to store for emergencies.
When stored properly, pasta can last over 25 years and still be good to eat.
In this article, I’ll go over pasta shelf life, which types of pasta are best for long-term stockpiling and exactly how to store pasta.
How Long Does Dry Pasta Last?
Even without any special storage methods, dry pasta has a very long shelf life.
Most studies put the shelf life of semolina pasta stored in its original packaging in a pantry at approximately 2 to 3 years past its “best by” date.
When protected against moisture, pasta can easily last 10+ years. Egg pasta, gluten-free pasta, and flavored pasta also have a long shelf life but, depending on what ingredients they contain, could go bad sooner.
Why Pasta Goes Bad
Dry pasta has almost no moisture in it. Without moisture, bacteria and mold are unable to grow. The pasta will remain safe to eat for years or even decades. However, there are some ways that pasta can go bad.
- Mold and bacteria growth: When stored in humid or wet conditions, pasta can grow bacteria or mold. The mold usually looks like dark greenish blue spots on the pasta.
- Nutrient loss: Heat and oxygen will destroy nutrients (particularly vitamins). The pasta is still safe to eat but won’t have as much nutritional value.
- Going rancid: Some types of pasta contain a lot of natural oils. These will go rancid in warm temperatures and when exposed to air.
- Absorb odors and contaminants from the environment: After several years in storage, dry pasta can start to taste musty. It will also absorb chemicals from the environment, including from its plastic packaging and the glues used in the box.
- Pests: Pantry pests usually prefer whole grains, beans and seeds. However, they will eat pasta (especially whole-grain pasta). While it may seem gross, it is safe to eat insect-infested pasta. Read more about pantry pests and food storage.
Dry Pasta Shelf Life by Type
- Semolina Pasta: It should last at least 2 years in the pantry but could be fine for 10+ years, even without special storage.
- Egg Pasta: Egg pasta will last approximately 2 years without any special storage. It may become discolored and lose nutrients though. Egg pasta also has a tendency to absorb odors and contaminants from the air around it.
- Vegetable Pasta: Pasta with vegetable flavors (such as spinach or beet pasta) also lasts 2 years without special storage. It might discolor or lose nutrients, but should still be safe to eat.
- Whole-Grain Pasta: Just like with storing whole-grain flour, the natural oils in whole grain pasta will cause it to go rancid. The process is gradual. After a year or two, the pasta may still be safe to eat but have an unpleasant taste.
- Gluten-Free Pasta: Most gluten free pastas will last 2 years in the pantry. However, some gluten free pasta are made with ingredients that have a lot of natural oils (such as flax pasta). The oils in the pasta will cause the pasta to go bad much faster – especially in warm temperatures.
How to Store Pasta Long Term
1. Remove Pasta from Its Original Packaging
You will need to repackage it for long-term storage. The reason is because the original packaging is not air-tight: it will allow moisture, odors and contaminants through.
Even if the pasta remains “safe” to eat, it can develop a really gross taste. On top of that, studies show that pasta will absorb the chemicals (like glue on the box) from the packaging. So, it’s better to remove pasta from its packaging for long-term storage.
2. Choose the Right Containers
The container must be completely air-tight so moisture from the air doesn’t get through. There are several options:
- Mylar bags: These are generally considered the best container for long-term food storage. They are cheap, come in different sizes, and are fairly easy to seal. Read about Mylar for food storage.
- Jars: Jars with air-tight lids (such as mason jars or canning jars) are good for storing smaller amounts of food. The downside is that jars will easily break during earthquakes, tornadoes, and other disasters so protect them. Don’t use recycling jars with threaded lids; moths and other pests can follow the grooves and easily get inside the jars!
- Food grade plastic: Most plastic food containers don’t really have an air-tight lid, so are not suitable for long-term storage. This is why I personally prefer Mylar. Here are some good options for food storage containers.
- Buckets: An easy way to store large amounts of pasta is to put it in a bucket. You can get gasket lids which provide an air-tight seal. Because the lids can leak though, it’s still best to put pasta in other containers before putting them in buckets.
What about vacuum sealing pasta?
Vacuum sealing will remove air from around pasta, thus improving shelf life. The problem is that vacuum sealer bags are not completely air-tight. They will eventually start to leak over time.
For this reason, they aren’t ideal for long-term food storage. One solution is to first vacuum seal pasta and then put it in buckets with gasket lids. The combination provides better protection from air and moisture.
3. Add Oxygen Absorbers
Oxygen absorbers (OAs) are little packets which absorb oxygen from air. Because oxygen is one of the things which causes food to spoil, using them can increase shelf life drastically. You’ll definitely want to use oxygen absorbers with any enriched pastas, flavored pastas, egg pastas, or pasta with a higher oil content (like whole grain pasta).
Normal semolina pasta doesn’t really go bad from oxygen exposure. So, it’s not absolutely necessary to use OAs for it. However, I still use them in my pasta storage to preserve taste and prevent pests.
To use oxygen absorbers, you’ll need to add the appropriate amount in CCs before sealing the container. Read more about oxygen absorbers for food storage here.
4. Protect Against Pests
Because pasta is heat treated, it is highly unlikely that it contains any insect eggs when you buy it. Thus, it isn’t usually necessary to freeze pasta before storing to protect against pests. Mice are a big problem as they can easily chew through Mylar or even plastic containers.
Put Mylar bags of pasta in food-grade buckets with lids. Keep the buckets and any other plastic food containers at least 6 inches off the floor and 2 inches away from walls. Also be sure to check on your food storage regularly and look for chew marks or other signs of pests.
5. Keep Somewhere Cool
Your pasta will last longer if it is kept somewhere cool, so keep it away from water heaters, washing machines and anything else that produces heat.
Live in a tiny home? Here are some actionable ideas about where to store prepping supplies when short on space.
Don’t Forget a Way to Cook Pasta!
If you are storing pasta for emergencies like power outages, you’ll also need a way to cook the pasta. Read about these 22 ways to cook without power and see our picks for best indoor emergency stoves and best survival stoves.