Store dehydrated food in a cool, dark, dry room for maximum shelf-life. Ensure dried products are kept in an airtight container such as a canning jar, mylar bag, or vacuum-sealed bags. Add oxygen absorbers or silica-gel dessicants for certain types of products.
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How to Store Dehydrated Food
Dehydrated food must be stored in a dry area. The purpose of dehydrating is to remove the water content from your produce, as high moisture content causes food to go rancid. Long term storage areas that are dry suffer from less food spoilage.
When storing food, it is a good idea to keep your storage containers in a dark place. Sunlight, like water, is one of the antagonists of long-term food storage; keeping your veggies, jerky, and dried fruit away from sunlight will increase their shelf-life.
You should also ensure dried foods are kept at a low storage temperature. Rooms with higher temperatures will decrease the amount of time your food stays fresh.
Does Dehydrated Food Need to Be Refrigerated?
Dehydrated food does not need to be refrigerated. However, keeping your dried food in a refrigerator can increase the shelf-life, particularly for dried meats.
How Long Will Dehydrated Food Last?
Most dehydrated foods will last between three months and one year. Below are the typical shelf lives for different types of home dried foods:
|6 months – 1 year
|1 – 3 years
|1 – 6 months
|1 – 2 years
These are estimates, as shelf-life will change dramatically depending on storage conditions and the dehydrating method used.
What are the Best Containers to Store Dehydrated Food?
Canning jars are a great option for food preservation. They are cheap, effective, easy to find, and reusable! To improve the shelf-life of food stored in canning jars, consider purchasing a vacuum sealer.
Any type of airtight container, such as glass jars or mason jars, can be used for storing food. These won’t be as airtight as canning jars, and are better for herbs and spices.
Mylar bags are hardier versions of vacuum-seal bags. They are great for long-term storage, and are less susceptible to punctures and breakage. They are also a good option for food storage on backpacking trips.
Vacuum-sealed bags are good for types of food that are going into the freezer or refrigerator, as they take up less space. They are plastic bags that work in tandem with a vacuum sealer to store food. They are a good option because they can be found and purchased easily at any grocery store.
Be careful when storing sharp or spiky food, as these types of food can poke holes in freezer bags, ruining the seal and potentially accelerating spoilage.
The Difference Between Airtight and Vacuum-sealed
Airtight containers do not let any air in from outside the container, while vacuum-sealed containers remove the air from the container.
It is unnecessary to vacuum-seal containers for food storage, though it may increase the shelf-life of certain products.
Using Oxygen Absorbers or Dessicants for Dehydrated Food
Oxygen absorbers are small packets that contain iron powder and salt. When placed into a container, they remove up to 99% of the oxygen inside. Oxygen absorbers begin working immediately when exposed to the air and can only absorb a certain amount of oxygen.
Oxygen absorbers should not be used with foods that have a high fat content or moisture content greater than 10%, as this can lead to botulism.
Most dried foods will benefit from being stored with moisture absorbers, also known as desiccant packs. These remove the moisture from containers, increasing the shelf life, and can be reused, making them better for frequently opened containers.
It is important that oxygen absorbers and dessicants are not used together because oxygen absorbers require moisture to work properly.
Expert Tips for Packaging Dehydrated Food
- Avoid repeatedly opening airtight containers, as this can drastically decrease the shelf-life of your packaged dehydrated food. It’s better to store your food in multiple small containers rather than one large one so you won’t re-open the containers.
- Be sure to label all your containers and add the date they were packaged to easily identify them later. Place newly packaged food jars and bags behind older ones on your shelves, so you use the older ones first.
- Whole dried foods last longer than powders made from dehydrated products. If you wish to make a powder, simply grind it right before you need it.