Ramen noodles are one of the most polarizing packaged food options on the market. Easy to prepare, reasonably tasty and absolutely dirt cheap, this is sadly one of the staple foods of college kids across the nations or anyone who has fallen on hard financial times.
However, they seemingly last forever and many hikers, campers and preppers swear by them as a reliable and trusty survival ration. Just how good are ramen noodles when it comes to shelf life? Do they ever go bad?
Yes, ramen noodles can go bad, but they have a really long shelf life, 2 – 5 years if kept in good conditions. They will almost always last longer than the printed sell-by date on the package.
Because of considerable processing, airtight packaging and gobs of preservatives, ramen noodles can go the distance so long as they are stored properly and their packaging is intact.
Like them or not, ramen noodles can provide you with abundant, cheap and reasonably tasty calories for literal pennies.
What Ingredients are in the Average Cup of Noodles?
Ramen noodles are often accused of being fake food, and made from all sorts of unpalatable things.
Though they are made with a considerable amount of processing and preservatives, ramen noodles are actually just pasta, dehydrated vegetables and meats and typically a seasoning or broth packet, dried, that will reconstitute when placed in boiling water.
Investigation of how ramen noodles are produced is worthy of another article itself, but in short the noodles are mass produced and massive sheets in a factory before being flash fried and then freeze-dried to preserve quality and consistency.
The same goes for the meats and veggies, with the additives and the broth packet being added into the sealed, styrofoam or plastic container before being shrink wrapped.
It is the freeze drying process which produces such excellent shelf life for ramen noodles. Removing virtually all moisture and killing germs at every step of the way produces an environment inside the package were the food will be safe so long as it is stored properly.
With a little bit of caution and an eye towards longevity, your ramen noodles can easily be good for 5 years or longer
There is a “Best By” Date on the Package…
if you look at any package of ramen noodles sold in the United States, somewhere on it you will find a “Best By” or “Sell By” date. this date is usually called the expiration date, colloquially, although it is not really an indicator of when your food will go kaput.
Thanks to the usual round of oversight and interference from countless government agencies but particularly the FDA every commercial food product sold for consumption by humans must have such a date on it.
This might serve as an overall quality or freshness date recommended by the manufacturer so that you can be assured the product will taste the best if eaten before such a date, but much of the time they are completely arbitrary and not grounded in reality when it comes to the freshness of properly preserved food or its longevity that you can expect before spoilage.
I and other authors have written on this very topic time and time again and have safely eaten an awful lot of food that is well beyond its sell-by date, sometimes by a matter of years.
When it comes to spoilage, you’ll have to use your senses and your brain to determine whether or not it is safe to eat. But concerning ramen, the freeze dried, heavily preserved nature of these instant noodles is definitely in their favor when it comes to longevity.
Ramen Noodles are a Great Option for Long-Lasting Storage
Ramen noodles present an excellent option for long-term storage. They are completely, totally dry and packaged in such a way to prevent the intrusion of any moisture which could change that.
This packaging, too, is usually styrofoam or plastic, two materials which are not known for attracting moisture in the first place.
Like all pastas, they make an excellent staple as part of your survival food stash precisely because they require such little rotation or other interaction compared to typical wet rations. they are also highly calorie dense and adaptable to a variety of flavor profiles and dishes, meaning they can form the core of your menu options.
Lastly, ramen noodles are extraordinarily affordable considering the calories you get out of every package and even if you were to suffer a mishap and see them either destroyed or way past the date or you could comfortably consume them, an entire case will only set you back a couple of dollars.
Store Properly for Best Results
I have spent a while bragging on ramen noodles in this article thanks to their extraordinary shelf life, but they are not invincible. Like any other food, even super “durable” ones like them, proper storage conditions make all the difference in obtaining maximum shelf life.
As with all foods, you should store your ramen in a cool, dry location. Also take care that they stay out of direct sunlight. if you can take care of these two requirements, you can rest assured that your ramen will go the distance.
Also, consider storing your ramen in a heavy-duty container or crate if pests are a concern. Some insects and all rodents love pasta, and the superior sniffers of rodents will easily detect the pasta through the sealed packaging where they will stop at nothing to get to it.
If you are keeping ramen in your bug-out bag, camping pack or other travel centric piece of luggage you’ll need to inspect it regularly if it is carried or moved around to ensure that the package has not been compromised. If the packaging is compromised, spoilage is likely.
Most ramen packaging is adequate to the task of keeping your noodles fresh if they are sitting undisturbed on a shelf, but abrasion, impact and jostling is another story. Consider keeping your ramen in a hard container to afford it more protection in transit.
Ramen noodles are an excellent survival staple with an extremely long shelf life, though they will not last indefinitely.
Kept in ideal conditions with packaging intact, you can expect at least 5 years of high quality storage out of a pack of instant ramen noodles, and they will likely remain safe and edible far beyond that.
Stored properly, they make an excellent core calorie resource for any prepper, as they are easy to prepare, adaptable and generally tasty like most pastas.