How to Store Large Amounts of Dried Goods

Опубликовал Admin
13-03-2021, 22:40
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Dry goods come in handy when you can’t get to the store to buy fresh produce. It helps to have a large temperature-controlled storage unit if you buy in bulk, but you can get by with a large pantry, refrigerator, and freezer depending on what you’re storing. Moisture, heat, and pests are the biggest concerns when it comes to foods like rice, pasta, dried beans, and baking ingredients, so be careful about the containers you choose and where you put them. With a little effort and know-how, you can enjoy fresh pantry staples for years to come!

Choosing the Right Containers

  1. Transfer the foods into clean, airtight containers or zipper bags. Remove the food from its original packaging and put it into sturdy plastic or glass containers. If you plan to freeze or refrigerate certain things, use heavy-duty zipper bags to save space. Make sure the containers are clean and dry before you fill them up with all your favorite staples.
    • If you’re using zipper bags, squeeze as much of the air out of the bag as you can before you seal it up. This’ll save space and cut down on the amount of air the food is exposed to.
  2. Use mylar bags and oxygen absorbers to keep dried goods fresh for years. All you have to do is place the food into the bags with 1 or 2 oxygen absorbers (per bag) and seal the top closed with a hot iron. Store the individual mylar bags in a food-grade bin or bucket and put the lid on tight.
    • You can buy mylar bags and oxygen absorbers online or from any superstore or home improvement store.
    • These nutritious foods and ingredients will last 10 years (or longer!) if you store them properly in mylar bags: rice, beans, sugar (only store it without oxygen absorbers), cornflour, dried produce, and whole spices.
    • Oxygen absorbers are small packets that soak up oxygen in the air around it. How many you need depends on how much food you’re storing. For each gallon or 6.7 pounds (3.0 kg) of food in the bag, use 300 to 500cc worth of oxygen absorbers.
  3. Vacuum-seal rice and dry beans in glass jars or food-safe storage bags. Place the dried rice granules or dry beans into sterilized mason jars and use a vacuum sealer to suck all of the air out. Keep the jars at room temperature in a dry, dark area—your pantry is the perfect spot. The dry beans will last up to 10 years and the rice will last up to 30 years!
    • Don’t use regular vacuum seal storage bags because those are only meant for holding clothes. Make sure the bags specifically say they’re “food-grade” or “food-safe” on the label.
    • Vacuum-sealing is also a good option for sugar, flour, and pasta. They’ll last for up to 2 years if you store them in a cool, dry place.
  4. Write the expiration date on the container. Check the expiration dates on the items’ original packaging so you know how long you can expect the food to last. Write down that date and, if possible, the date you expect the food to go bad. If the food is within a month of expiration, it’s probably best to use it as soon as you can instead of worrying about storing it long-term. If the food looks or smells off, throw it out.
    • Some foods like flour and rice have a “best by” date instead, which means they’re usually safe to eat for 6 to 8 months after the date if you store them correctly (and if there are no funny smells or signs of pests!).

Storing Goods at Room Temperature

  1. Keep breakfast cereals fresh for up to 6 months in airtight containers. Pour opened breakfast cereals into airtight plastic or glass containers and put them in the pantry or some other cool, dark place. Make sure there's no moisture in or around the container so they don't spoil. They may start to taste a little stale after a month or 2, so try to use them up as soon as possible.
    • Sugary cereals aren’t necessarily a healthier option, but they do last longer than non-sugary varieties since sugar can act like a preservative.
  2. Preserve beans and lentils in airtight glass jars. Pour dry beans or lentils into individual glass jars with well-fitting lids. While it's best to enjoy them as soon as you can, they'll stay good in the pantry for up to 1 year.
    • Toss an oxygen absorber into each jar to make them last longer.
    • Glass jars will protect the pulses from pests like weevils and moths.
    • If you’re saving up for the future, seal them in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers to make them last over 10 years.
  3. Store sugar in an airtight container for 2 years or longer. Pour the sugar into a plastic zipper bag or plastic bin with a well-fitting lid—the ones with rubber grips around the edges are a good choice because they lock-on tightly. Store it in your pantry or baking-ingredients cabinet for 2 years.
    • Sugar naturally lasts a super-long time, so it’s still safe to use it even if the expiration date has long passed.
    • Never put sugar in the freezer or refrigerator because it will cause it to lump together and crystallize, affecting the quality and texture of the sugar.
    • Make sure to keep it away from any sources of heat or moisture that can cause the sugar to get lumpy.
  4. Store dried fruit and vegetables in airtight glass jars. Dehydrated produce is meant to last a long time. Transfer each type of dried fruit or veggie into their own individual glass jar (don't store them together). Dried fruits and veggies like apricots, apples, bananas, coconut, sweet potato, carrots, and beets will last 6 months to 1 year when you store the jars in a cool, dry place.
    • If you want your dried produce to last over 10 years, store them in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.
    • You can store them in metal tins (like old coffee cans) as well—just be sure to put them in a plastic bag before you put them in the tin so the metal doesn't interact with the gases from the dried produce.
  5. Place the airtight containers in a cool, dry spot with good air circulation. Put the containers in a pantry or cupboard that's away from sources of heat or light. Humidity can cause mold and bacteria to grow, so make sure the room's well-ventilated.
    • If you live in a hot, humid environment, consider setting up a dehumidifier in or near the room where you store your dry goods.
    • Be sure to check the ceiling and any pipes for signs of moisture or leakage.
  6. Keep the temperature of the room between 50°F (10°C) and 70°F (21°C). Storing dry goods inside your home is usually the most feasible option, and your home temperature is usually just right. However, if you’re putting your dry goods in a temperature-controlled garage or other storage unit, make sure it stays between 50°F (10°C) and 70°F (21°C). If you need to, install a thermometer on the wall so you can make sure the temperature is stable.
    • Avoid storing dry goods in your laundry room or near your laundry machines because the heat and humidity will cause the food to spoil faster.
    • If you're storing the containers inside your home and you like to keep it a few degrees higher than 70°F (21°C), that's okay. Just know that the dry goods may not last as long.
  7. Store the containers on a shelf or some other surface off of the ground. Putting the containers on the ground can mess with the air ventilation in the room, so be sure to put them on shelves. If you’re storing lots of smaller bags, put them in a larger bin with a lid to keep them organized and safe from bugs or anything else that might reach them from the floor.
    • When it comes to air circulation, slotted shelves are usually better than solid metal shelves.
  8. Organize the containers by popularity, size, or type to use your space efficiently. If you have a few larger storage bins, stack them on top of eachother if you can so they’re not taking up too much horizontal space on the shelf. Place the items you regularly use on top so you’re not having to rearrange other bins to get to what you need.
    • For instance, if you use sugar the most, put that bin on a center shelf on top of other goods so you can get to it.
    • Consider putting similar items together to make the storage area more aesthetically pleasing and easier to navigate. For example, you might devote 1 shelf for plastic airtight containers, another for glass jars, and another for vacuum-sealed bags.
    • Place smaller mylar bags, zipper bags, or vacuum sealed bags into a larger bin to keep them organized.
  9. Check the condition of the containers and the storage area every 2 to 4 weeks. Make sure the lids are on tight so you know no pests have made their way into the food. Don't open the container unless you have to to check for spoilage—the more air the food is exposed to, the quicker it will spoil! You may also want to check the general condition of the area, making sure there are no leaky pipes, condensation on the walls, or other signs of moisture in the room.
    • If you see any holes in the container, inspect the food for signs of spoilage. If it's still good, put it in a new container.
    • If you see any condensation forming on the containers, smell the food to see if it's still good. If it is, transfer the food into a new, dry container and put it in a different, non-humid area.

Refrigerating and Freezing Foods

  1. Put white or bread flour into a zipper bag and freeze it for up to 2 years. Transfer the flour from its original packaging into a heavy-duty plastic zipper bag. Squeeze out as much of the air as possible before you seal it up.
    • While it will last for 2 years, it's best to use it sooner rather than later.
    • Wheat flour will only last for up to 1 year in the freezer.
  2. Keep cornmeal fresh for up to 5 years in an airtight plastic bag. Carefully transfer the cornmeal into an airtight container or zipper bag and push out as much air as you can before you seal it up. Toss it in the freezer for up to 5 years, scooping out what you need whenever you need it.
    • You can tell if cornmeal has gone bad if it develops an odd, sour smell.
  3. Freeze uncooked oats in a plastic zipper bag. Pour dry oats into a zipper bag and squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing it. Place the bag in the freezer and enjoy this nutritious breakfast staple for up to 1 year.
    • This will work for all types of oats (steel-cut, old-fashioned, and quick-cook).
    • Flavored packets of quick-cook oats don't freeze well due to the added sugars and other ingredients. It’s better to eat those before the expiration date on the package.
  4. Refrigerate or freeze nuts in an airtight bag for 6 months to 1 year. Place freshly harvested or store-bought nuts in a zipper bag and toss it in the refrigerator to keep them tasting rich and flavorful for up to 6 months. If you want to keep them longer, put them in the freezer for up to a year.
    • Shelled nuts will last longer so if you bought or harvested them with the shells on, leave them on until you’re ready to use them.
    • The nuts have gone bad when you notice it looks oily or if it has a grassy smell.
  5. Keep your refrigerator 32 to 40°F (0 to 4°C) and your freezer at 0°F (-18°C). Check the temperature reading every day to make sure each unit is at the perfect temperature. If you're using older models, put a thermometer inside each of the units so you can check the temperature.
    • Consider putting a backup thermometer inside the unit in case there's a power outage. If the temperature is still 0°F (-18°C), the food is still safe.
    • If you suspect the built-in thermometer is off, place a thermometer between packages of frozen foods and check the temperature reading after 5 to 8 hours.
    • Dust the coils in your freezer and refrigerator and make sure the door seals are in good shape so the units are keeping things cold the best of their abilities. If you see frost-buildup or signs of a leak inside your freezer or refrigerator, it may be time to call a professional or get a replacement.
  6. Place bags or containers of dry goods on a shelf, not in the door. The middle or bottom of the refrigerator or freezer are the coolest spots, which is perfect for storing your dry goods long-term. The shelves on the door are the warmest, so it's best to leave those spaces for condiments and juices.
    • Don’t put dry goods in any crisper drawers because the air is too moist and gases from produce or other goods could get trapped and cause the food to spoil faster.
  7. Arrange the shelves evenly apart and don't overstuff them. Keep your shelves organized and evenly spaced—it’ll look better, make it easier to find things, and ensure good air circulation. Avoid placing the shelves too close together so you're forced to squeeze foods into tight spaces.
    • Over-stuffing the shelves will mean that cool air can’t circulate around the entire freezer or fridge, leaving some spots warmer than others.
    • Don't cover any shelves with foil or any other material that can block air from flowing between the shelves.
  8. Clean up any spills and throw out spoiled foods to prevent bacteria. Check your refrigerator and freezer for spills or leakage from other foods. If foods have gone bad, throw them out so they don't release gases or grow bacteria that could cause the other foods to spoil faster.
    • To clean any liquid spills or sticky residue from various items in the freezer, dip a cloth in a solution of 6 fluid ounces (180 mL) of warm water, ⁄2 tablespoon (7.4 mL) of dish soap, 2 fluid ounces (59 mL) of vinegar, and 1 tbsp (15 g) of baking soda and wipe down the area.
  9. Don't open the refrigerator or freezer door if there's a power outage. If the power goes out, leave the doors shut to avoid changing the temperature inside the refrigerator or freezer. Check the temperature of each unit after the outage to make sure the foods are safe. If the temperature reads 40 °F (4°C) or below, it’s safe to refreeze the food.
    • If you have frequent outages, consider linking your appliances to a generator or other backup source of power.

Tips

  • Place unopened packages of rice that you plan to store in the freezer for at least 24 hours to kill any pests and pest eggs.
  • Consider using a humidity gauge to check the humidity in your dry-goods storage room every week or so.
  • Place opened boxes of baking soda in your refrigerator and freezer to absorb strong odors. However, any odors could be a sign that you need to clean the inside of the unit or get rid of rotting foods.

Warnings

  • If you’re unsure whether a food is still safe to eat or not, throw it out. It’s better to be safe than to get sick.
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