How to Store Potato Flakes Long-Term (Shelf Life and Storage Options)

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 can’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 manufacturing.

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 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 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 must 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 them 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 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. 

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 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

When you factor in the cost of your time and supplies like Mylar bags, it might be cheaper to 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 the price on Amazon.

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  1. Quick question for anyone in the know: I have purchased three large boxes of Idahoan instant mashed potato flakes. My plan is to vacuum seal them in vacuum seal bags, and then store them in food grade 5 gallon buckets. Is this a viable plan for long term (as in years) storage? Thanks in advance.
    Bob Tuttle

    • Storing them with oxygen absorbers is better. However, since potato flakes last an insanely long time even without special storage, vacuum sealing will also work. The flakes should last years like this. If you live somewhere humid though (vacuum sealer bags allow some air through!), I’d throw a few dessicants into the bags before sealing.

      • Is an empty plastic peanut bottle fine to store the potato flakes in, along with an 02? The bottle is clean, it has a #7 on the bottom and I actually filled it with water, turned it upside down and no water came out. So, I am thinking it is ok?
        Thank you!

        • All plastic containers will eventually leak. Little holes gradually form in the plastic. Even if that doesn’t happen, the seal on the lid will eventually allow air in, so the oxygen absorber becomes useless. If you want to use oxygen absorbers, it’s better to use mason jars with two-part lids. But you could also just skip the OAs with potato flakes and just keep them in the empty PNB container. Potato flakes last an insanely long time even without OAs.

  2. How long would they last in the number #10 cans? You fined them in the Resturant supply stores like return at depot or business Costco.

    • Food in #10 cans has a very long shelf life. If OAs are used in the can, the flakes would last decades. Without OAs, the flakes should sitll last several years. It depends on whether the flakes have milk, butter, etc. added to them though.

    • I went to a restaurant supply store and found a 5lb bag of instant mashed potato flakes with no flavoring ( produced by “Basic American Foods”) at a very decent price (under $14 USD). Granted, it’s packaged in a paper bag that won’t last, but I planned on packaging it into mylar bags so it didn’t bother me.

  3. I was told to never use oxygen absorbers with instant potatoes! I am so confused now. I was just going to vacuum seal, first in a brown bag, then the bag, and seal up. I was told to not use absorbers but why?


    • I have no idea why you got that info! So long as the instant potato flakes are dry, there is no reason why you can’t use OAs with them.

  4. Can you store dehydrated potato flakes (no oil or flavor) directly in a new foodsafe bucket? Or should I use Ziploc bags inside the bucket?

    • They sure can! I have a lot of storage in 5 gal buckets with mylar and O2 absorbers. The weight of the food and buckets had cracked a bottom bucket. The mice found an entrance and chewed through the bag, and ate ALL those beans over 1 winter, 25 lbs. The empty bag kept its perfect shape, though. Regards, Jimmy

  5. Nice helpful article, especially the tip about avoiding flavored flakes for long term storage. I’ve always loved mashed potatoes and gravy so this is a natural for my food stash.


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