Storing Bulk Dry Foods for a Disaster…
One of the easiest and definitely the cheapest way to store large quantities of food for an EMP, Financial Collapse, Civil Unrest, Peak Oil, or any other disaster is by storing dry foods. Dry foods can be bought and stored by the pound making them the cheapest method if you are looking for food that will last over 20 years. Using bulk dry foods in your preps is also a cost effective way to store enough food for the whole family for when SHTF.
How to Ensure the Longest Possible Shelf Life
When you spend time and money storing bulk dry foods you want to ensure that the food will be ready for you when you need it. You don’t want to open up your supply of dried foods in the next disaster and find it engulfed in mold. Temperature, light, moisture, and oxygen are the most critical factors determining the shelf life of your food preps.
Temperature: The general rule is the cooler and more stable the temperature is in the environment, the longer the food will last. This is because mold spores hate the cold and have a very difficult time reproducing. For dried foods, generally room temperature (65°F – 72°F) is cool enough to obtain a shelf life of over 20 years. This is as long as the temperature remains stable and without much fluctuation.
|GOOD LOCATIONS: The lower level of your house, basement, cellar, closet space on lower lever of your house, crawl space on lower level or kitchen cabinets.
BAD LOCATIONS: Anywhere on the upper level of a multi-level house, attic, upper floor crawl space, outside shed, or in a vehicle.
Light: To obtain the longest possible shelf life of dried foods you want to minimize the light getting to the food. This is because mold spores love the light. Dark or reflective containers are the best choice for storing dried foods for this reason. It is best to avoid using glass, clear or opaque plastic containers that will allow light through.
|GOOD LOCATIONS: A dark basement or cellar, in the back of a rarely used cabinet or closet, or a crawlspace.
BAD LOCATIONS: Near a window, or in a frequently used cabinet or closet.
Moisture: This is one of the major benefits to storing dry foods and what helps to give dry foods such an extended shelf life. Dry foods are just that… dry. Mold and other organisms need moisture to reproduce and the inherent lack of moisture in these foods helps to keep them shelf stable. Make sure whatever container you use is air tight and therefor should have no problem keeping out moisture.
|GOOD LOCATIONS: Rooms with good air circulation, on shelves, or anywhere with low moisture.
BAD LOCATIONS: Near a bathroom, under the sink, sitting directly on a concrete floor, near any water piping, or in an enclosed room that has no air flow.
Oxygen: If no oxygen can get to your food, than no spores can reproduce causing your food supply to go bad. There is oxygen everywhere so the best way to reduce or eliminate the oxygen getting to your food is by using an appropriate container. An air tight container is best. In order to eliminate the oxygen that could remain inside the container after you seal it, you can either flood the container with another inert gas (such as nitrogen) to flush out and replace the oxygen, or put an oxygen absorber inside the container.
NOTE: The best way to prevent light, moisture, or oxygen from ruining your food is by storing the food in an appropriate container. That is why choosing what you store your food in is extremely important.
Using Mylar Bags for Long Term Storage
The most popular method and probably the most practical means for storing dry foods (such as rice, beans, grains, etc) for the long term is by using Mylar bags along with oxygen absorbers. Mylar bags are used in the food industry quite often for packaging of food products. Mylar bags are reflective, and therefore ensure that light does not get to the food, These bags also produce an airtight seal when heated and pressed together.When you combine the airtight seal of a Mylar bag with an oxygen absorber, you get an environment that is ideal for long term food storage. Ensure that the food is kept in an environment with a stable, cool temperature and that the bag doesn’t get punctured in any way. This will give you a shelf life of at least 20 years for most dried foods!
For these step by step instructions we will assume you will be storing your dry food in 5 gallon buckets. This is probably the most common container used by preppers to store their emergency food supplies. A 5 gallon bucket is ideal because it holds a considerable amount of food but not so much food that you wont be able to pick it up and move it in an emergency. Also, a bucket provides a strong barrier so rodents and other small animals do not work their way into the Mylar bags. Here’s how to store your food using this method:
STEP 1 – Acquire the Buckets
Find 5 gallon buckets with a good handle so they can be easily picked up and moved. Also, a food grade bucket is best although this is not required as the Mylar will line the inside of the bucket. Ensure that the bucket has a lid that seals tightly to keep out small animals. The thicker the better for the buckets as thicker buckets are hard for a determined rat or mouse to chew through. Also ensure it is a brand new bucket as a used bucket can have chemicals and other dangerous contaminants inside. It is helpful, but not necessary for the lid to be airtight (few buckets are) as the Mylar inside is what will produce the airtight barrier.
STEP 2 – Line the Buckets with Mylar
Using 5 gallon Mylar bags (preferably 4.0 mm thick or more), line the inside of the buckets with the bags leaving the tops of the bags open so that you may put in your dried foods.
STEP 3 – Pour in your Dried Food
Pour your dried foods into the buckets, leaving an approximately 4 inch gap from the top of the bucket. Once the food is inside the bag (which is inside the bucket), grab the sides of the Mylar bag, lift up slightly, and shake the bag. This is to ensure the food has settled into the bottom of the bag and bucket.
STEP 4 – Insert Oxygen Absorbers into the Bags
For each 5 gallon bucket of food, put in a 2000cc oxygen absorber or bigger. If there are a lot of gaps in the bag when the food settles because of the type of food (such as curly pasta for example) you’ll want to double this. Too much oxygen absorbing capability in the bag is fine, too little can negatively affect the shelf life. From this point until you seal the bag you’ll want to work quickly as the oxygen absorber will be absorbing oxygen from the moment you take it out of it’s packaging.
STEP 5 – Seal the Mylar Bags
Mylar bags will seal together using the heat from a normal clothes iron. Fold the excess Mylar over a flat surface so you may use the iron to seal it. Many preppers will use a 2″x4″ piece of wood laying on top of the rim on the bucket to accomplish this. Iron across the Mylar bag so a strip of at least a few inches is sealed together across the top of the bag. Do not seal the bag completely at this point, stop before getting all the way across the bag and leave a small portion not sealed. Push out as much of the remaining air as possible from the bag and iron the rest of the Mylar, sealing it completely.
TIP: Many preppers will use a vacuum during this step to vacuum out the remainder of air still inside the bag just prior to sealing it.
STEP 6 – Seal the Buckets
Put the lids back on the buckets so they are tight and secure. Find a cool, dry, place to store the buckets and in about 24 hours the air inside of the Mylar bags should be completely absorbed and the food ready for storage!
Follow these steps with the appropriate shelf-stable food and you can expect it to last for over 20 YEARS!
Shelf Life of Various Dry Foods Stored Using Mylar Bags and Oxygen Absorbers
||Expected Shelf Life
Note: Some items such as apple slices, onions, and vegetables are not considered “dry” foods but are still included on this list. You must first dehydrate them to obtain the shelf life listed here.