Long Term Food Storage Techniques and Container Types

Ropak 5 Gallon HDPE Food Grade Bucket

A main requirement of long term food storage is to keep the food from light, heat, and moisture. To accomplish this, you can use a variety of techniques and container types. As you read through this article, you’ll learn lots of things you probably hadn’t thought of.

5 and 6 Gallon Food Grade HDPE Plastic Buckets

HDPE (high-density polyethylene) plastic buckets have tight-fitting lids with rubber gaskets. They are ideal for the storage of bulk staples such as grains, legumes, sugar, flour, salt, etc. If you wish, you can purchase an inner liner that is made from metalized foil (mylar). This liner will keep light from harming the food inside and causing deterioration. The liner also acts as a moisture barrier and helps keep rodents out.

While the bucket and a metalized liner is a very good method of storing food, it is not required. You can just store the packed buckets in an area with a low level of light or no light at all.

If you use the mylar liner, you should seal it. This can be done with dry ice, nitrogen flushing, or oxygen absorber packets. The idea is to get out as much air as possible. Once you think that most of the air is out, you can seal it with an iron.

My preferred method is to just rent a cylinder of nitrogen from a welding supply house and flush the bucket with nitrogen. This is generally done with a “wand” that is attached to the hose coming off the nitrogen cylinder. You poke the wand all the way to the bottom of the bucket and turn on the gas. You also will have the lid open just enough to get the wand into the bucket. To see that all the oxygen has been displaced from the bucket, you can light a match and hold it over the open area of the bucket. When the match goes out the oxygen has been displayed.

You will need to poke the wand down into the bucket at three different places. At the 2:00, 6:00, and 10:00 positions. That way you will be flushing the majority of the oxygen from the bucket. If you wish, you can place an oxygen absorber packet in the bucket before pounding on the lid.

For the longest storage life, store the buckets in a dry, cool, area with no light.

#10 Can with Double Enamel

The #10 can holds approximately 1 gallon and are ideal for smaller quantities of food. If you purchase freeze dried food storage from a major manufacturer like Mountain House Food, the cans will have an enamel coating on the inside and outside of the can. The contents are also packed in nitrogen. This type of food storage provides the longest shelf life possible. Mountain House Foods has had laboratory testing done and found that their food lasts for 30 years and longer. However, they have decided to be on the conservative side and only state that it lasts for 25 years.

After you have open a #10 can, you should put a plastic lid on it. Some food units come with a supply of plastic lids. Some don’t. So, if yours doesn’t, you will have to purchase some lids to have on hand.

Mountain House Foods also puts an oxygen absorber packet in each can to further ensure that all the oxygen has been removed from the container. This also helps to prevent insect eggs from hatching in the can. It also prevents rancidity because there is no oxygen.

The Mormon church has canneries available where you can pack your own buckets. However, packing food yourself will probably not be as good as purchasing food that has been packed at the factory. Factory-packed food provides the longest shelf life possible.

Mylar Bags

The mylar bags (or liners) previously mentioned can be purchased from food storage companies. The heaviest Mylar bags in the large size are the best for lining the plastic buckets. After packing, the bag can be sealed with a hot iron. You can also insert oxygen packets before sealing.

These bags are good gas barriers and will not allow nitrogen or CO2 to escape through the plastic bucket.

Oxygen Absorber Packets

Oxygen absorber packets look like a sugar packet or a silica gel packet. These packets are a relatively new method of oxygen removal and are proving to be one of the best methods.

To use these packets, you should know that they must be used within fifteen minutes of being opened and exposed to the air. These packets absorb the oxygen from the container and trap it in the iron powder, salt and moisture mixture in the packet. This is the easiest way to remove oxygen.

Oxygen Absorber packets can be purchased from food storage companies.

Dry Ice

To use this method of packing, you should place a mylar bag inside the bucket, and then put three inches of food on the bottom. Next, place a three-inch square of dry ice on top of the food. Now, fill the bucket about half full, lay the lid loosely on top of the bucket, and allow it to sit for one half hour to two hours. This will allow the ice to dissipate. With the lid loosely on, the gas will be able to escape. Next, seal the bucket tightly.

One pound of dry ice is enough for a thirty-gallon drum of wheat. If the container should start to bulge, just take the lid off to let the gas out, and then seal it again.

CO2 and Nitrogen Flush

This was mentioned earlier, but I will touch on it again. You can rent a cylinder of CO2 or nitrogen from a welding supply house. This method of packing can be used instead of the dry ice method.

Insert the wand down into the bucket (all the way to the bottom), lay the lid loosely on top, and wait for the nitrogen to rise out of the container. If you hold a match over the opening and it goes out, the nitrogen has reached the top. Do this three times at the 2:00, 6:00, and 10:00 positions. This will ensure that the majority of the gas has been flushed out.

Be careful when you pack flours and other powdery substances. You will have to turn the regulator on the cylinder down low enough so the gas doesn’t spray flour out of the bucket and all over the place. Just play with the valve and you’ll see what I mean.

Bay Leaves

Some people pack food with Bay leaves. Use two bay leaves for small amounts up to one gallon or five leaves in five gallon buckets. Some people say this works well, although I’ve never tried it.

Freezing Grain

If you store grain in places that freeze over the winter, you can be assured that any insects that were missed during inspection will be killed.

Diatomaceous Earth

Another method of packing is to use Diatomaceous Earth. The Earth can be mixed into your stored grains and beans to control insects without the need to remove the dust before consuming it.

For every forty pounds of grains or beans, you mix one cup of diatomaceous earth with it. Coat every kernel and mix it in small batches. You will want to cover your mouth so you dont breathe in the dust, as it can irritate your lungs.

The diatomaceous earth you want to use is sold as an organic garden insecticide. There are several different types of Diatomaceous Earth. Make sure you get the kind that is approved for human consumption.

Summary

If I am packing the food myself, then my favorite method is to buy food grade buckets, bulk staples, and do nitrogen packing. It works great. The final cost depends on your welding supply company and how much they will charge you for the nitrogen. If you are on a limited budget, you will want to choose this option.

Home-canning and dehydration also work great for food preservation. There is nothing quite like eating your own home-canned meats, fruits, and vegetables. It gives you a lot of satisfaction.

Freezing is another method of food storage. Although, I don’t consider it to be a viable method for an emergency, because you may not have electricity.

If you are looking to get factory-packaged food storage, and are looking for the longest possible shelf life, quality, and taste, then you’ll have to buy Mountain House Freeze Dried Food. They are the absolute best of the factory-packed storable foods. Nitro-Pak is the best place to get your storable food.

This article has given you some ideas. All you have to do is pick one thing and do it! Today!

 

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Comments

  1. Dennis says

    I am thinking about buying already canned vegatables and storing them in 30 gallon air tight barrels. I planned on burning a small candle to burn off the oxygen after sealing. I plan on packing the barrels on a low dew point day for maximum dryness with a clay dessicant in side. After reading this site, maybe I should use nitrogen instead of the candle to get rid of the oxygen that may rust my cans from the outside in. Is storing canned vegatables ok?

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