You can keep food for an extended period of time
I have been interested in all aspects of preparedness since about 1998, but this one area – Long Term Food Storage– has been the most helpful, even comforting, for my family. When my husband was completing college, and again when we started our first business, we used this “stash” as an economic buffer.
I think it might even be fair to say that without my Long Term Food Storage we might not have made it – at least not without help! It kept us from being hungry and discouraged, and don’t things always seem harder when you’re hungry and discouraged?
What exactly is long-term food storage?
For the purposes of this website, I’d like to define long-term food storage as any food that will store for longer than five years. Some foods will last even longer – like wheat, rice, and sugar (up to 30 years) – but isn’t that kind of a waste?
As long as you spent hard earned money on this food you better use it! We use powdered milk for cooking in our house, so we are sure to rotate it into our daily meals. Make sure that every item you bring into your long-term food storage is marked with the purchase or canning date so you can practice first-in-first-out inventory rotation. Read this article to discover long-term food storage ideas.
What Are Some of the Best Foods To Store Long Term?
Here are long term food storage items that you can consider:
Foods with Extremely Long Shelf Life
Some foods have a very long shelf life when packaged and stored properly. You can easily buy such food items at a grocery store. But, if you want food for long-term storage, you can consider repackaging or sealing them.
Whole wheat grains
Whole wheat grains are usually sealed in foil packages and sometimes inside large plastic buckets. To remove oxygen and prevent permeation of moisture, the foil package is hermetically sealed. It can last for decades if processed, packaged, and stored correctly.
If properly stored, white rice can last up to 20 years. As a staple food all over the world, rice is a must in any long-term storage plan.
If properly dried and protected from moisture, corn will last for decades. It is a staple which provides significant nutritional value.
Archaeologists discovered honey jars in an ancient tomb in Egypt. They honey was 3,000 years old (based on carbon dating) but was still food-safe and tasted like real honey. Honey is known for being able to last for many years.
If you can keep sugar hermetically sealed to prevent moisture, sugar can also last a very long time.
If you can keep moisture out of stored salt, it will last almost indefinitely. Salt is used in food preservation methods such as pickling and curing. This staple is commonly used for long-term food storage.
While it is not a food source, baking soda is used for baking. If kept dry, it will last indefinitely.
This staple can survive up to 20 years. When storing powdered milk for the long-term, moisture absorber packets are recommended although some packaging solutions might not require them.
Granular chicken or beef-flavored bouillon products tend to store better than bouillon cubes. With the proper processing, packaging, and storage, bouillon products can last for decades.
Instant coffee, cocoa powder, and tea
If you keep these ingredients dry, they will last for decades without losing flavor or potency.
Some processed and packaged foods have a shelf life of 20 – 30 years if stored properly. They are excellent as survival food and emergency food. These are great food items to stockpile because they will retain their nutritional value for years to come. Here are some foods that have a very long shelf life:
- Dried beans: 30 years
- Dehydrated fruit slices: 30 years
- Pasta products: 30 years
- Rolled oats: 30 years
- Potato flakes: 30 years
- Dehydrated carrots: 20 years
How to Freeze Dry Food for Long-Term Storage
Freeze drying removes moisture from food by vaporization (a process which turns water molecules into vapor). Freeze drying food affects texture, but the flavor and nutritional value stay intact. Since freeze-dried foods are lightweight, they are perfect for backpacking trips or emergency preparedness kits. Freeze drying is arguably the best long-term food storage method.
Foods with high water content are ideal for freeze drying, as their structure remains intact. Fruits and vegetables like apples, berries, bananas, pears, potatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes hold up particularly well after freeze drying.
You can also freeze-dry cheese, chicken breasts, and entire meals such as meatballs. Actually, you can freeze-dry almost any food that contains moisture. The following are some freeze-drying methods that you can try:
Freeze Drying Food with a Freezer
- Place the food on a tray or plate. Spread it out, so the pieces are not clumped together.
- Place the tray in the freezer. Don’t open the freezer too much while the food is freezing. You should freeze food at the lowest temperature possible.
- Keep food in the freezer until it has freeze-dried. Over the course of a week, sublimation will take place, wherein all moisture will be removed from food. Check if the food is completely freeze-dried by removing a small piece and allowing it to that. Freeze-dried foods retain their natural color. If the food piece turns black, it means the food is not freeze-dried yet.
- Store the food. When the food is completely freeze dried, put it in freezer storage bags. Push the air out, seal the bags, and store them in the freezer, pantry, or your emergency preparedness kit.
Freeze Drying Food with Dry Ice
- Place the food in freezer bags. Make sure the food doesn’t bunch up. Push the air out before sealing the bags. Ensure that the bags are sealed airtight.
- Put the freezer bags in a big cooler. Then, cover the food with dry ice. Wear gloves while handling dry ice. If there are lots of bags, alternate them with dry ice.
- Place the cooler in your freezer. After six hours, cover the cooler with the lid. After 24 hours, check the cooler to determine if dry ice is still there. If it is gone, it means the food is ready for storage.
- Remove the food bags from the cooler. Store them in the freezer, pantry, or emergency preparedness kit.
Freeze Drying Food with a Vacuum Chamber
- Place the food on a tray or plate. Spread it out, so pieces of food are not clumped together.
- Place the tray in your freezer and freeze until solid. Don’t open the freezer too much while the food is freezing. Use the lowest temperature possible.
- Place the frozen food in a vacuum chamber pulled to about 120m Torr. Set the temperature to 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). The sublimation process will be complete within a week. Check one of the slices to make sure the freeze-drying is complete.
- Place the food in airtight storage containers.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Freeze-Dried Foods?
- Long shelf life
- Low moisture
- Best way to dry meat
- Reconstitutes quickly
- Usually tastes better than dehydrated foods
- Retains original color and shape after reconstitution
- Most expensive long-term food storage option
- Items are bulkier than if dehydrated
What Are the Pros and Cons of Dehydrated Foods?
- Long shelf life
- Not easily spoiled
- No waste
- Low moisture
- Some items don’t look visually appealing
- Some items lose taste after reconstitution
- Dehydration can affect the nutritional value
DIY Long Term Food Storage
Survival food buckets can be useful in many types of scenarios. During natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, or blizzards, food shortage can be a real problem. Buying food at your local grocery or supermarket can be a challenge. Therefore, you must make sure that you and your family have enough food to survive.
These survival food buckets can feed an individual for up to one month or a family of four for a week. You need two 5 gallon buckets to store all the food items. Buy food-grade buckets if you can. They are better than ordinary plastic containers.
What to Put Inside Two Food Buckets:
- A 50-pound bag of white rice: Buy this in bulk. If you buy in small packages, you will end up paying more.
- 10 pounds of assorted beans: You can buy pinto beans, Northern beans, black beans, red beans, or black-eyed beans. It is up to you how much of each is going into the buckets.
- Boxes of orange drink mix: This is an excellent source of vitamin C.
- A container of salt: Salt is a natural preservative and flavor additive. Also, iodized salt will provide iodine to the beans and rice meals you’ll be eating.
Final Thoughts on Long Term Food Storage
Long term food storage enables us to store and enjoy foods longer for future consumption, camping, or extended vacations. It also allows us to prepare for the unexpected like emergencies and natural disasters. Hopefully, these long-term food storage ideas can help you survive during those challenging times. It’s better to be prepared than sorry.
Posts from PreparednessMama on Long Term Food Storage