Saturday, February 18, 2012

Crisco Shortening and Survival Storage

I find I can’t be a comfortable prepper without some kind of oils to cook/bake with.
When it comes to long term food storage some compromises on what I store and how I cook must be considered. I can’t possibly store every food item I like without waste from not using it before expiration or best by date and couple that with the strong possibility that I may be cooking over a campfire the food item storage list shortens considerably.

One food group to make a storage decision about is oil vs Crisco.

Oil is a very handy cooking item, but the problem with oils is their shelf life is six (6) months and at best one (1) year.

However, I find the Crisco brand of shortening is a good compromise. It is the best use for frying foods in, like fried chicken in shortening is just the best and greasing baking pans is better than oil. So shortening is my preferred item for long term storage and survival cooking as a substitute for cooking oils.

Using shortening in baking recipes vs oil is simple. Biscuits for example, require shortening to make them and you simply cut the shortening into the flour. The same method of using shortening in other baked goods applies, cut it in the dry mix. If oil is needed in the recipe then melt the shortening first and add quickly to warmed dry ingredients.

How long does shortening last?

Crisco says unopened in the pantry and with no refrigeration it will be fine for 2 years. I have use some that was 3 years old and it smelled and tasted fine, I’m still here anyway!

I don’t know how you’d tell if it goes bad except by using your nose first, it should smell clean [no smell] like the new stuff and no taste. I find that when the shortening gets older sometimes there is a separation that takes place, it kind of looks like the white color has migrated away from the edges of the can. When that occurs I just stir it up to re-blend.

Just my non-scientific opinion but Crisco may be one of those items that could last years longer if in a cool storage place. Only a lab duration test would tell for sure and I have yet to find any long term duration studies.

For myself I only buy Crisco in the smallest 16 oz cans so I have the smallest amount opened for the shortest time before being used up.

Thanks to Crisco they have a link for everything you ever wanted to know about Crisco:

Another link for information about fats and oils:


  1. Great post. We crave fats because for most of the time we humans have been on earth it was the hardest thing to get. Wild and underfed domestic animals don't have much on them, and if you do get a good amount of it, you can't store it long for later use.

    As a child, Crisco was the only store bought fat we used. It was inexpensive and it lasted. It also makes a dang fine pie crust. You can also use it to make herbal salves and rubs.

    Great post!

  2. I keep a lot of oil and fats stored, too! And I know that I've used, actually, am still using, off-brand Crisco that is over 2 years old and it is still fine.....the stuff seems to last forever. I do buy the biggest cans I can find though - but that's what you do when you feed 12 people!

  3. Honestly, I haven't had many containers of Crisco hanging around. Although I didn't mind frying stuff with, I still prefer using vegetable oils for my cooking. I have a few bottles of oil left that are two years old and they smell / taste fine (well, WE haven't died yet either and I just used it to fry some fish in and in some baked recipes!). I'm assuming that they have stayed ok because they were kept in the coldest part of the basement pantry and in the dark.

  4. Yukon Mike,
    Thanks for the info. I've been looking into using lard more than vegetable shortening. It is supposed to not go rancid, at least for a long time. Have you looked into storing and using lard at all?

  5. i have used crisco in the past as well as other brands..and i too like to use vegetable oils as much as i can for health reasons. i have actually had crisco go rancid which just shows how often i use it. however, i also keep good old fashioned lard on hand and it has never gone cheap, and does not need refrigeration after opening.

  6. When Crisco goes bad, you won't have to wonder. It turns from snow white to dull yellow and stinks, so rancid.

  7. As our family follows the diet laid out in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, I personally would prefer to store lard for frying. I am not sure of it's shelf life but it was used by farmers for centuries. You can even store meat in layers of lard such as fried pork chops in a barrel.. just remove, heat in the pan and eat.

  8. Thanks for all your comments; they are each valuable to all of us, especially me!

    You are very right about wild game, it is a lean meat and adding some kind of fat to is essential for taste.

    Mysitc Mud
    I think if I had to cook for 12 people everyday I think I would just open a restaurant and try to make some money at it 

    Carolyn Renee
    I like oils for cooking also but if its not available it is good to know we have a substitute. You’re correct about storing any food, it is best when stored in the coolest possible place, thanks!

    Lard is a cooking option and stores well. I just have to start experimenting with it and see which I prefer as storage space and stored food options for me is limited.

    Anon 9:04
    Thanks for the confirmation about lard storing well. The only time I had any was in a paper box wrapped in waxed paper from the store. After two years on the shelf it still smelled fresh but I never got around to using it. Shame on me, but I do intend to get it back on the shelf for my cooking experiments and ultimately make a decision between shortening and lard.

    Practical Parsimony
    Thanks so much for the confirmation about Crisco going rancid. I never experienced it yet and it’s good to know we will know when it goes bad.

    Thanks for the tip about ‘Nourishing Traditions’ I will check it out. I have read about storing meat in it, just never knew of anyone actually doing it. It’s another thing for me to try after I get caught up o all my other ‘must do’ items. Thanks!


  9. Hi Mike
    Nice post. Thank you! I wanted to share what I do. I buy coconut oil in 5 gallon buckets. It lasts a long time--very stable. I have used it after 2 -3 years and it is fine (smells good). I open it and fill up mason jars to use it. It gets hard in winter (more like Crisco) so you have to scoop it out. But I use it to fry and to bake. It is not good for vegetable oils. I buy it here:

    It is the one that says: Coconut Oil, 76 Degree, White, Food Grade 50 lbs.($1.38 per pound). Shipping is a little expensive, but it is still less than other oils in the store.
    I also store olive oil in the metal tins. I usually buy the extra virgin gallon at Walmart. When I open a gallon, I put most of it in pint or quart jars and put it in the freezer. It freezes beautifully. I just get it out when I need more and it thaws pretty quick.

    I could never use a gallon before it went rancid, so this is awesome!!

  10. Noelle,
    Thanks for the oil storage tips!
    I’ve never used coconut oil but since you brought it up I need to look into it as an alternative to vegetable oil.

    Thanks a bunch,

  11. crisco stays good for ten years if the can is unopened and on a cool dry place

  12. lali182,
    Thanks, that’s good to hear. I have also heard that before but could never find any test reports to verify it. By any chance do you have a link to a test report on that or is this your own experience?

  13. I have a Crisco can in my pantry that I've been nipping into since 2009 and it's still good. I know it was 2009, because that's when we bought the house and I brought that can over from my old house, still unopened. So actually it's older, but it's been open for that long.

  14. Shortening not only works for cooking but for medicinal uses. Dry chapped lips, chapped skin in a pinch, vehicle for salves. It makes a great firestarter when a little is daubed on a paper towel and stuck under some kindling. It also works as a fat candle with a floating wick. Everyone storing food should store shortening.
    J in NV

  15. Jessica, thanks for the shelf life confirmation!

    Anon, Didn't know about the fire starter and candle. Thanks for the tip!


Your thoughts are welcome!