5 Ways to Store Food Long-Term
Dry Pack Canning is the process used to store foods that have less than 10% moisture and are low in oil content. When properly done, these items will last a long time, maybe even 30 years under certain conditions. We’ve talked in the past about the reasons to have extra food on hand. Today we will explore how to store it for optimal freshness. The items suitable for long-term storage include wheat, corn, beans, white rice, sugar, rolled oats, white flour, pasta, powdered milk and eggs, and some dehydrated vegetables.
DRY is the key here. A good way to tell is to take a hammer to it – if it cracks, it’s dry enough. If it smashes it’s probably not a good idea to store it using these methods. The oils will eventually go bad and you risk getting sick.
Doing my own dry pack canning gives me the freedom to choose what I want to store. I can buy items from the bulk bin as my budget will allow, and “put them up” in my own jars or buckets. This food is the foundation of my food storage plan.
The methods that you might consider using for Dry Pack Canning are:
- Mason Jars with oxygen absorbers
- FoodSaver machine with bags or Mason Jar attachment
- Food grade buckets with oxygen absorbers
- PETE Bottles with oxygen absorbers
- Purchase #10 cans from a visit to a LDS Home Storage Center
Using a mason jar and oxygen absorber couldn’t be easier and doesn’t require any special equipment. Put your product in a jar, place 1 or 2 – 300cc oxygen absorbers in with the food, put on a new lid and screw the band tightly. It will take approximately 30 minutes for the air to be removed and the top to “plink.”
This is perhaps not the most effective use of your storage space. Canning jars take up shelf real estate, so you will need to decide if you have enough storage area for this method. It will take 24 jars to store 50 pounds of rice this way.
If you have a FoodSaver with a jar attachment oxygen absorbers are not necessary, the attachment removed the air. Oxygen absorbers can be purchased at The Ready Store, at Discount Mylar Bags or at Amazon.
A FoodSaver machine with attachment also works well for storing small amounts of dry food. I use mine almost every day for keeping the extra food we haven’t used, it’s super handy. When we open a new bucket I break down the contents into smaller, manageable portions. Sometimes wet food that are stored in FoodSaver bags leak air back into them, so I mostly use it to seal canning jars, or for things I want to place in the freezer. A FoodSaver also works well for storing extra herbs and spices.
Food grade buckets are fantastic for storing large amounts of food all at once and provide a barrier of protection against rodents. You will need at least 2000cc’s of oxygen absorbers to remove the oxygen from a 5-gallon bucket. Add your food, then place the absorbers on top and make sure your lids are secure. This is an acceptable
Related post: Store Bulk Flour in 5-gallon buckets
The process is simple, add your food, then place the absorbers on top and securely attach the bucket lid. This is an acceptable long-term storage strategy. Once I open a bucket and know I won’t be using all the food within the next month or so, I transfer the food to smaller containers using either my FoodSaver or plain old plastic zip bags. The contents of this bucket now become short-term storage and should be used within 1 year.
Using PETE Bottles for longer-term storage – from provident living.org
Bottles made of PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic can be used with oxygen absorbers to store products such as wheat, corn, dry beans, and white rice. PETE bottles are identified on the container with the letters PETE or PET under the recycle symbol.
Other types of plastic bottles typically do not provide an adequate moisture or oxygen barrier for use with oxygen absorbers. Do not use containers that were previously used to store nonfood items.
PETE bottles can also be used for shorter-term storage (up to 5 years) of other shelf-stable dry foods such as white rice.
The moisture content of stored foods should be about 10 percent or less. When moist products are stored in reduced oxygen packaging, botulism poisoning may occur.
Packaging in PETE Bottles
- Use PETE bottles that have screw-on lids with plastic or rubber lid seals. You can verify that the lid seal will not leak by placing a sealed empty bottle under water and pressing on it. If you see bubbles escape from the bottle, it will leak.
- Clean the used bottles with dish soap and rinse them thoroughly to remove any residue. Drain out the water, and allow the bottles to dry completely before you use them for packaging food products.
- Place a 300cc oxygen absorber in each bottle. The absorbers can be used with containers of up to one-gallon capacity (4 liters).
- Fill bottles with wheat, corn, dry beans or white rice. Anything that passes the hammer test mentioned above.
- Wipe the top of the sealing edge of each bottle clean with a dry cloth and screw lid on tightly.
- Store the products in a cool, dry location, away from light.
- Protect the stored products from rodents.
- Use a new oxygen absorber each time you refill a bottle for storage.
How long will the food on PETE bottles last? Certainly, a two-year storage time can be achieved. I have my doubts about whether these PETE bottles will really store food for over 10 years. You will need to decide on the length of time best suited to your storage. In the mean time, I still use this method when I purchase things in bulk that I know I will use within one to two years.
Go to a LDS Home Storage Center in your area.
If you are looking for a ready to go storage container, consider the #10 can. You see them at bog box stores like Costco or Sam’s Club for wet items but it’s hard to find a place that will let you purchase rice or flour in a can. Enter the Home Storage Center.
This is one of my preferred storage containers because we can open a can and use it in a reasonable time. Cans that are not open will last for many years with no loss of food.
Home storage centers help people build a basic supply of food for their longer-term home storage needs. Several prepackaged items are also available through their online store and are ready to buy off the shelf or to have shipped to your home. The prices are always reasonable and you do not have to be LDS to purchase online or in a storage center.
To find available products in your local center and plan your purchases, download the home storage center price list. Fill out the form electronically, print it out, and take it with you to your local home storage center. They also sell oxygen absorbers.