Instant potato flakes are one of my favorite emergency foods to stockpile. They are very cheap, readily available, and easy to prepare.
You don’t even have to cook potato flakes; they can be made simply by pouring water over them. This makes them great for power outages or situations where you couldn’t use your emergency stove safely, such as during suspected gas leaks.
Potato flakes will last a long time, even in their original packaging. However, for long-term storage, you will need to repackage them.
Here’s what you need to know about the best methods for storing potato flakes long-term.
Do Potato Flakes Go Bad?
Potato flakes are usually made by drum-drying, which leaves them with very low moisture levels (less than 8%). Because the flakes are so dry, it is difficult for bacteria and other microbes to grow.
Further, potato flakes are almost entirely starch: there is virtually no fat in them, and very few vitamins are left after the manufacturing process.
This means you don’t have to worry about the fats going rancid as you would with brown rice storage and other whole grains.
Potato Flake Shelf Life
The best-by date on potato flakes is usually listed as 12-18 months. As the brand Idahoan says on their website, the potatoes might start to break down after this date and affect the texture or quality of the product.
Can You Eat Expired Instant Potato Flakes?
It’s rare that instant potatoes would actually spoil. You should be able to eat them well past their best-by date safely.
However, if stored somewhere humid, the potato flakes might absorb moisture from the air, get wet, and support microbial growth. If this happens, they might smell off or have visible mold growing on them.
Potato Flakes for Long Term Storage
Many brands of potato flakes contain oil, butter powder, or milk powder. The fats in the oil and dairy can go rancid, especially if exposed to air or heat. Rancid foods are actually safe to eat but have a disgusting sour or fishy taste.
For long-term storage, choose potato flakes without added flavoring!
How to Store Potato Flakes Long Term
The key to storing potato flakes is to protect them from moisture. The dry flakes will absorb moisture from the air, which could make them wet enough to support microbial growth. To prevent this, you will need to store the potato flakes in airtight containers.
1. Mylar Bags and Oxygen Absorbers
The best way to store potato flakes long-term is to put them in Mylar bags, add oxygen absorbers, and seal the bags closed. Packaged like this, the potato flakes will be safe from moisture and oxidation and should last 30 years.
Put the sealed Mylar bags in a bucket as an extra layer of precaution. This will protect them from rodents. It should also protect them from damage from hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.
For more detailed instructions, read:
2. Mason Jars and Oxygen Absorbers
You can also store potato flakes in mason jars with oxygen absorbers. So long as the mason jars have good-quality two-piece lids, they should be airtight.
I generally don’t like glass jars for long-term food storage. They are prone to breaking and wouldn’t likely survive a disaster like a hurricane. You also can’t fit much food into a jar. However, many preppers like to store their food supply in jars.
3. Original Packaging + Plastic Containers
Most potato flakes come in flimsy thin packaging. The packaging will eventually let air and moisture through. You should not keep these in their original packaging.
However, there are a lot of brands that package their potato flakes in sturdy metallic pouches or thick plastic bags. In this case, you can get away with just storing them in their original packaging.
You’ll want to put the packages in a food-grade plastic container with an airtight lid. No lid is 100% airtight, but suitable containers will help keep moisture out.
I’ve heard of people who have had 8-year old potato flakes stored like this and were just fine. I would recommend doing this if you live somewhere humid, though. Mylar + oxygen absorber is still the surest method for long-term storage.
4. Airtight Containers + Desiccant
Put unopened packages of potato flakes in a food-grade plastic container. Make sure the containers have good-quality lids. Put a few desiccants in the container. The desiccants will help control moisture.
This method of storing potato flakes is far from ideal.
Even with the desiccants, moisture pockets can build up in the potato flakes and cause wet spots. However, it’s the easiest method of storing potato flakes. And, because potato flakes are so shelf-stable, they should be good to eat for several years stored like this. To play it safe, make sure you rotate through the supply.
5. Emergency Food Brands
A lot of emergency food has a hefty markup. If you are on a budget, it almost always makes more sense to package your own food instead of buying it. However, emergency potato flakes aren’t always that expensive.
When you factor in the cost of your time and supplies like Mylar bags, it might end up cheaper to just buy pre-packaged potato flakes instead of doing it yourself. Currently, Augason Farms makes the most affordable potato flakes (that I’m aware of) with a long-term shelf life. They often have sales too, which makes them an excellent deal. Check price on Amazon.