Thursday, January 22, 2015

Meeting 4b: Long-term Food Storage How-to

Long-term Food Storage

Can anyone tell me the difference between long-term and short-term food storage?
              - Short-term food is usually highly processed (boxed meals), stored in liquid (canned goods) or has a high fat content.  It needs to be used and rotated regularly. 
               -Long-term food is usually dried, dehydrated, or freeze dried.  The majority of long-term, if stored properly, can be stored indefinitely.

Short-term food storage ranges from 6 months- 18 months when it comes to shelf life.  One thing to remember about canned goods, as long as they are not dented, rusted or damaged, they can last up to 5 years.  The quality will probably not be as good but they are still edible!

There are several long-term food items that can last indefinitely.  It’s all about how they are stored.  The five things to keep in mind when storing food are:

Oxygen- conditions to enhance the growth of microorganisms.

Moisture- Excessive moisture can result deterioration and spoilage by creating an environment with which bacteria can grow and chemical reactions can take place.

Light- Exposure to light can result in the deterioration of fats, proteins, and vitamins.

Temperature- Excessive temperature fluctuations are damaging to food storage.  With increased temperature, proteins breakdown and vitamins are destroyed.  The color, flavor and odor will be affected.  To enhance shelf life, your food should be stored at or below room temperature; never in your attic or garage.

Pests- If insects or mice get into your food storage they will not only contaminate your food storage but can expose you food storage to moisture, light and oxygen.

Storage Containers:

#10 cans
-Great for storing in small places.
- Sturdy and airtight
-Can store in pantry.
-Smaller amount of food to use up once opened.
-Keeps food safe from insects and rodents.
-Can rust when exposed to water.
-Need a special tool to seal the lids on.

Mylar bags
-Least expensive food storing option.
-They are airtight and keep moisture out of food.
- Great to use as a second shield in buckets.
-Easily sealed.
-Mice can chew through them.
- Can be easily punctured, so not as sturdy.

-Great for bulk food storage.
-The keep mice and other animals out of your food.
-Protects from moisture.
- Stackable, so great for storing.
-Easily sealed.
-Hard to open and reseal.
- Must use food grade plastic.
- Can be most expensive option.
-Overtime oxygen and other gasses can travel through the plastic.
You can do ‘Super Pails,’ which are buckets lined with Mylar bags.  These are the most expensive option but will last the longest!

Removing Oxygen:

There are 3 ways to remove the oxygen from your containers when storing you food long-term.

Oxygen Absorbers
-Simple and easy to use.
-Can be stored easily.
-Fairly inexpensive.  Most Mylar bags come with oxygen absorbers.
-Best for Mylar bags and #10 cans.
-If used in plastic buckets it causes air to flow through the pores of the buckets faster.
-You will most likely not be able to replant your grains.  The seeds will die without oxygen.

Dry Ice
-Least expensive option.
-Great for using in buckets.
-Can burn you if not handled properly.
-Can be harder to store.
-Cannot use in Mylar bags or #10 cans.


When using oxygen absorbers you will need 2000 cc for 5 gallon Mylar bags and 300 cc for 1 gallon Mylar bags and #10 cans.  When sealing a Mylar bag you can use a clothing iron or a hair straightener.  When sealing the bag you will need to leave 1-2 inches unsealed to place your oxygen absorber.  If placing the Mylar is a bucket you will want to leave 4-6 inches from the top of the bucket to make placing the lid easier. Once you have placed the oxygen absorber and sealed the Mylar closed, if in a bucket leave overnight to allow oxygen absorption.  If sealing just the Mylar bag lay it out flat over night.  When using #10 cans place the oxygen absorber at the top of the can, place lid and use canner to seal.

You can use a hair straightner or iron if you do not have the Mylar bag sealer.

2000 cc oxygen absorbers

Wheat being stored in 'super pails.'
When using dry ice you will need ¼ lb of dry ice for every 5 gallon bucket. You will want to place a little bit of grain on the bottom and then place in your dry ice, fill to the top. You will place the lid on the bucket but not sealed.  After 3-4 hours you will come back and snap the lid on tight.  Come back in a few more hours to see if they are bulging.  If they are, you will ‘burp’ the bucket by pulling up one side and gases escape and then seal bucket.

Your goal should be to cycle through your food storage every 5 years.  This can be accomplished by learning to use every item you store and using it out a daily basis!  

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