How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Long Term Storage of Sugar, Honey, and Syrups

Delicious Sugar!Despite the horrible things that you hear nowadays about sugar and carbohydrates and whatnot, they’re actually a critical part of your diet.  And they provide a great energy dense source of calories.  And besides, how do you make cookies from your food storage if you don’t have any sweetener?

There are three major classifications of sweeteners we should consider for long term storage.  Right now I’m only considering natural sweeteners.  I don’t know that much about the shelf life of artificial sweeteners since I don’t actually use them.  In any case, the three categories to consider are Sugars, Honey, and Syrups.

Sugars and Long Term Food Storage

There are several types of sugar that are suitable for long term storage.  Sugar is particularly sensitive to moisture so it is critical to keep it dry.  Aside from that it’s important to store it with the usual guidelines:  Cool, Dark, and Dry.  Sugar has an indefinite shelf life, though some folks say to use it within two years.  Microbes can’t grow in it and it doesn’t mold or anything.  Good stuff!

Rudy’s Tip: Sugar can actually absorb flavors and smells from the air around it.  Be sure to store it in an airtight container!  You’d hate to have Motor Oil flavored sugar.

Granulated Sugar

This is what you see all over the place at the store and is the cornerstone of your storage plan.  It won’t spoil and if you store it dry and cool it will store forever and a day.  If you happen to get it wet it will cake up and get all hard and crusty.  Never fear, Rudy is here!  Just smash it up again and voila, you’re in good shape!

Powdered Sugar

This is good stuff and a cornerstone for icing, frosting, and the like.  It’s actually the exact same stuff as granulated sugar which has been ground even finer.  Sometimes the refinery adds corn starch to prevent caking.  The biggest problem with powdered sugar is that it absorbs water like a frat boy guzzles tequila on spring break.  If you let moisture in, it will cake up and you won’t be able to get it back to then fine powdery condition you’re used to.  Life goes on.  Since you now know it’s the same stuff as granulated sugar, just use it for that instead!

Brown Sugar

I gotta say, this is one of my favorite kinds of sugar.  It’s basically granulated sugar with molasses and a bit of caramel coloring.  It comes in Dark and Light variants.  Dark has more molasses and thus a darker color and a stronger flavor.  Brown sugar is different from other sugars in that it is supposed to be moist.    That means you can’t dry it out.  Best bet is to store it the same as other sugar but leave out the  desiccant.

Rudy’s Tip: Just store dark brown sugar.  If you need light brown, mix one part granulated sugar to three parts dark brown sugar, mix well, and enjoy!

Honey and Long Term Storage

I love honey.  I think it’s one of the ultimate long term storage sweeteners.  It’s natural, you can easily produce it yourself, it’s healthy, and it keeps forever.  And it tastes so darn good.  The only problem is figuring out what to buy.  My preference is to buy local honey if I can’t produce it myself.  If you can’t find local honey, look at the store but be careful.  You MUST buy honey that is labeled pure.  You want to get filtered honey if possible over liquid honey as the process to liquefy the honey after initial filtering destroys most of the nutrients.

Honey stores forever, just keep it dry and away from air.  Over time honey can darken which can intensify the flavor but is otherwise nothing to be concerned about.  Store it with your other food and you should be fine.

Rudy’s Tip: Honey can crystallize relatively easily.  If it happens, drop the container into hot water for a while and it will liquefy.  It’s nothing to worry about!

Syrup and Long Term Storage

There’s a bunch of different kinds of syrup, but there are only a couple that are interesting for me.


This is good stuff.  Tastes good to me, though my wife doesn’t like it all that much!  It’s a byproduct of the sugar refining process.  It will store for about two years on the shelf.  Make sure it doesn’t have any corn syrup in it as corn syrup has a far shorter shelf life.

Rudy’s Tip: In a pinch, add a tablespoon or so of molasses to a cup of sugar and make your own brown sugar!

Maple Syrup

Yummy pancakes!  If you like syrup on your pancakes and whatnot, then store this too.  Preferably glass bottles for maximum storage life.  Similar to molasses, it will store for two years or so when stored on a cool dark shelf.  Again, make sure that there is no corn syrup on the ingredient list if you’re buying pancake syrup vs pure maple syrup (which is ridiculously expensive).

In Closing

I hope this helps.  Like I said at the beginning of this post, we can’t forget about sugar in our long term storage planning! As always, let me know if you have any questions about any of this.

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17 Responses to Long Term Storage of Sugar, Honey, and Syrups

  1. Hi Rudy

    So, considering your average person can’t just go buy dessiccant packets at the local grocery, where can we buy them> DOes it have to be online or are there a certain type of local store that will sell them?


  2. Great tips Rudy. I appreciate how practical you make this. Who would have guessed that sugar is so easy to keep. Seems to me that this could also be a great bartering good? What do you think?

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  4. I’ve noticed that most off brands of sugar are actually beet sugay as opposed to cane sugar. I know that cane sugar will store indefinitely if kept dry and cool. The Domino brand bags actually state this right on the label. While at Meijer, I noticed that their store brand sugar said it was made from sugar beets. THIS sugar had an expiration date on it of about 12 months. What gives? I can find NOTHING on the net about differences in storage variations.

    • Sugar stores indefinitely. Companies put expiration dates on everything for liability reasons. Keep sugar dry via dessicant and you’ll be fine.

  5. I have several #10 cans of sugar from a local cannery. The label says “best if used by 8 years”. So, five years later I have opened two cans and they smell a bit bad. The sugar looks okay but is clumpy – not usually a worry, like Rudy has stated. But I’m wondering if the sugar is still good since it smells funny. Anyone know if it’s still okay to use this sugar?

    • I have used sugar 11 years later. I did not have oxygen absorbers in it but was in an air tight container. Sugar is very unforgiving. It tasted fine.

  6. Do you need to store brown sugar in a container/nylar bag with an oxygen aborber? What would be the expected shelf life of brown sugar without storing in an a mylar bag without an oxygen absorber?

    • not an oxygen absorber, and brown sugar needs moisture so skip the dessicant packet too.

      Shelf life is similar to regular sugar, though it can easily dry out if you’re not careful.

    • You could if you keep them separated in some other container, like a ziplock bag or something.

      But as I’ve said before, I just use gallon size ziplock baggies for almost everything.

      Mylar is somewhat overrated, I think.

  7. I have a large quantity of white refined sugar that has been stored for 25 years. It seems fine but there are a few small dark brown spots in the sugar that can be seen through the plastic bags. Should have used mylar because I have discovered that plastic bags will start to break down and turn slimy with extended storage times, but – that is another matter. Any idea of what these brown spots are and if they affect the sugar in a negative manner? Hate to discard several hundred pounds of sugar. Thank you in advance! Al.

  8. I tried putting pure cane white sugar in a cardboard container that came with oatmeal in it from the store. Once the oatmeal was gone, I put the sugar in there. I don’t use white sugar very often so it was years..and the sugar never did get hard or clump up. I tried it again and it did the same thing. Has a plastic lid on it. Tall round container for oatmeal.

  9. According to the Karo syrup website, corn syrup can be stored indefinitely.
    What experirnce have you had ?