Special Report

20 Foods You Should Buy During a Quarantine (Because of Their Long Shelf Lives)

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16. Potatoes
> Shelf life: 2 to 5 weeks

Smaller potato varieties, like Yukon Gold, red, and fingerling, will last between two and three weeks if they’re kept in a cool, dark, dry place. Larger white or russet potatoes, as well as sweet potatoes, can last for three to five weeks. Potatoes are safe to eat even if they’ve started sprouting, but cut off and discard the sprouts. The warning above about storing onions near potatoes works both ways: Don’t do it, as the onions give off gases that might cause the spuds to spoil faster.

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17. Powdered milk
> Shelf life: 1 to 1 ½ years

Dehydrated milk solids will remain usable for at least a year, if not longer, though their color and texture and the flavor of milk reconstituted from them might change as the powder ages.

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18. Tea
> Shelf life: 6 to 12 months past “best by” date

Dried tea leaves, either loose in a sealed container or in teabags (in an unopened package), may be kept for a year or more, as long as they’re not subjected to moisture or humidity. The tea does tend to lose flavor over time, though.

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19. White rice
> Shelf life: Indefinite

Nutritionists tend to scorn white rice, pointing out that brown rice is far superior in terms of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. Brown rice also has a higher oil content than its pale counterpart, though, so can go bad in a few months’ time. White rice is almost indestructible. Its only enemies are moisture and rice weevils or flour bugs — tiny insects that have found their way into the package, or hatched from eggs that were harvested along with the rice itself. Storing rice in airtight containers should stave off both problems. (If you find bugs anyway, discard the rice.)

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20. Winter squash
> Shelf life: 1 to 3 months

Colorful winter squash — varieties like butternut, spaghetti, acorn, kabocha, and hubbard, among others — are one of the most durable of fresh vegetables, especially when stored in a cool, dark place.