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Monday, November 19, 2012

Dry Food Storage



Dry Food Storage
Using Oxygen absorbers and mylar.


Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.

There are many dry foods (low moisture and low oil content) that you can store long-term, many years, by using oxygen absorbers.  With the oxygen absorbers, I use the mylar bags.  Some people prefer #10 cans or food-grade buckets for storage.  Some use mylar bags inside buckets.  I prefer (for now at least) to just use the mylar bags and then store them in a large plastic tub to keep mice and other things from them.  It's a personal preference I guess.  For me, it was cheaper to just get the bags and store them in the tubs that I already had.  Mylar bags can be reused and resealed also.  I personally get them on e-bay, but there are many places you can buy them on-line or at food storage stores.  I live in a remote area "in the boonies," and I doubt there is any place in town here that has that sort of thing.  Note, many bakeries will give away (or sell cheap) food-grade buckets when they are done with them.  When I ask, they seem to be all out.  lol

When using oxygen absorbers, it's very important to not open the packet until you have your bags ready to seal! You want them in the bags of food and sealed within 15-30 minutes of opening them or they won't work well.  

There are arguments on whether or not 'hand warmers' work as well as oxygen absorbers; but I'm not convinced myself.  Besides, the oxygen absorbers are inexpensive; so I'd rather play it safe and get those.  

To seal the mylar bags, you can just use a regular clothes iron.  Set it on hot, cotton/wool setting.  The bags seal in just a few seconds.  Very easy to do.  I place the edge of the bag on a piece of wood and just run the iron over the edge.  It doesn't hurt the iron any, and the iron doesn't hurt the mylar.  If the bag isn't completely full, I still just seal the edge so that there is more room for the bag to be resealed later if I want.  Don't forget to label the bag and date it so you know what is in there.  :) 

I actually sealed this bag a month ago (dehydrated 
hash browns).  I just took the picture to show you how 
I do it.  See how the oxygen absorber has done its job 
and sucked in the bag like it was vacuum sealed?  :)



Some foods that are said to last indefinitely 
without any special packing are:
salt
sugar
honey (no additives)
cornstarch
baking soda
pure vanilla extract
white rice
hard liquor (can be used for different things)
corn syrup
pure maple syrup
distilled white vinegar.

(I would put some of these in a plastic bag for extra protection like the baking soda.)
   
There is a lot of different information out there about the shelf-life of foods.  I've also read articles about how many foods store a lot longer than first thought.  The cooler the temperature, the longer it will last.  Some of the foods that are said to last 30 years or more when kept at a temperature of around 70 with an oxygen absorber are wheat, white rice, pinto beans, rolled oats, pasta, potato flakes, non-fat powdered milk. (Brown rice doesn't store well because of the fatty acids.) Again, there is a lot of different information out there, but these do store well.  Dehydrated foods are also good for storing with oxygen absorbers. 

Here are a couple of articles about the shelf-life of many foods. 
Here is an article on oxygen absorbers. 

Not only is it a good idea to stock up some for emergencies; but with the rising prices going up and up and up, it can be a good idea to stock up for that reason too.  I like the oxygen absorbers because I can store some things away and just forget about it for a long time.  ;)  Of course I have other foods, like canned foods, that have to be rotated and used in a shorter amount of time.

Note, if you wish to store grains or legumes and not use oxygen absorbers, you may want to look into using food-grade diatomaceous earth.  You mix it in with the food, and it will take care of any bug problems that can arise.  It is organic, the fossilized remains of a type of algae.  If you want to sprout something, you would want to use this instead of an oxygen absorber.  Some people swear by bay leaves, but I'm not convinced about that from the things I've read.   

Update/Tip:  Why didn't I think of this before?!  If you get a bunch of mylar bags and can't fill them all at once, you can immediately seal some of the oxygen absorbers back in small mylar pouches in any quantity you want.  I cut a strip off the end of one of the mylar bags and used a kitty treat (mylar) bag to seal some in smaller quantities until I can get to them.  ;)
A kitty treat bag. 
 Juice pouches also come in mylar.

Oxygen absorbers sealed in smaller quantities.

 Please feel free to leave a comment, tip, or suggestion below.  :) 

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