Food Storage Basics: How to Store and Protect Your Long-Term Food Items

| 7/18/2017 10:00:00 AM

Tags: food pantry, long-term food storage, Mylar bag food storage, Tess Pennington,

With all the time and money you have put into having a food pantry, you want to make every effort to protect it. There is nothing more disappointing than seeing your food investment ruined by natural elements or bugs. Knowing what your food’s worst enemies are, understanding how they can infiltrate and ruin your food, and how to prevent their havoc will help you preserve your food investment for the long term.

Enemies such as sunlight, moisture, bugs, oxygen, temperature fluctuations, and time can reap havoc on your food sources. If you are planning on storing long-term foodstuffs such as rice, beans, dry milk, or sugar, you want to consider repackaging these items. Most of the dry goods we purchase at stores are packaged for short-term use. The clear and flimsy plastic packaging will not hold up during long-term storage. As well, the USDA allows certain “defects” in our food sources and mold, insects and insect eggs are on that list of approved defects. Therefore, if you can take certain steps in preserving your long-term food supply to prevent these food enemies from destroying your food, you will have more peace of mind.

On a personal note, in my home, we use a multi-barrier approach in our long-term food pantry. Keep in mind, this food storage method is for dry foods you plan on storing for a year or longer. We seal our food in a Mylar bag and store it in a 5-gallon food grade bucket. In my 10 years of storing food long-term, I have never had an issue with food spoiling or being ruined my bugs using this method. To use this method, you need:

• 5-gallon food grade plastic bucket with lid
• Mylar bag (5 millimeters in thickness)
• Oxygen absorbers
• Method for sealing the Mylar bag (heat clamp, iron or flattening iron)

5-Gallon Buckets

Food-grade plastic containers are an excellent choice for many and will not transfer or leach any non-food chemicals into the food, nor are there any chemicals within the container that are hazardous to humans. Typically, a food grade container has a #2 by the recycle symbol or the acronym “HDPE” stamp on the bottom (HPDE stands for “high density polyethylene”). Before any food source is to be stored, clean the containers with soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly. 5-gallon plastic containers are the most popular amongst those who store bulk quantities of food.

Additionally, make sure the lid you purchase for your container is airtight and spill proof. Lids with gaskets and gamma lids are great lids as they do not require a lid opener. They are typically a little more expensive compared to the traditional bucket lid. However, they are easier to open and close, and are worth every penny!

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