We all know that food is a necessity for survival, but what happens when you are suddenly cut off from grocery stores? What do you eat if your cupboards are bare and the electricity goes out?
Well, there’s no need to panic. You can still prepare for an emergency by storing dry goods and foods ahead of time! This article will discuss storing dried and dehydrated items as well as how to keep them fresh.
What are dry goods? What are the differences between dried and dehydrated foods?
Dry and dehydrated foods are two different categories of food that many people store when prepping for an emergency.
Dry foods have little to no moisture in them and can be stored for long periods of time when properly packaged and sealed in an airtight container.
Examples of dry foods are rice, pasta, flour, sugar, salt, beans, etc.; these do not need to be refrigerated or frozen as they are dry enough on their own and will not spoil very fast in extreme temperature fluctuations.
Dehydrated foods are typically fruits, vegetables or meats that have been cooked and then dried in a low-temperature oven (such as at 150 degrees Fahrenheit) to kill any bacteria and completely remove any moisture from them.
Dehydrated foods typically take more time to prep than dry goods because of the process necessary for them to be dehydrated. They can last a very long time, but the shelf life is typically shorter than dry foods.
Why should you prep and store dry goods?
Storing dry goods and dehydrated foods are essential for survival in an emergency. They provide a substantial amount of calories and can be supplemented with other foods to create a healthy diet in an emergency.
Dry goods are one of the easiest foods for preppers to store in large quantities. Dry food is also inexpensive and can be stored for long periods of time without the need for a refrigerator or freezer.
Dried and dehydrated foods are necessary for a survival situation to ensure that you and your family consume the proper amount of calories, vitamins, and minerals. A varied diet will also help prevent nutritional deficiencies that may occur when a person subsists on one type of food for an extended period of time.
Dried goods also have an incredibly long shelf life, which makes them ideal for use over extended periods of time.
The pros and cons of storing dry goods for use in an emergency
Just like any other foods you decide to store, there are some pros and cons to storing dry goods.
- Buying in bulk and repackaging yourself can be very cost-effective.
- A wide variety of food is available in a dried and dehydrated form.
- Dry goods have a very long shelf life – 1 bag of rice can last you 20 years if stored properly!
- It is possible to store dairy and other perishables for long periods of time.
- Dried food requires no processing before storage.
- Longer shelf life means less rotating and worrying about spoilage.
- Most of the dry food needs to be cooked before it can be eaten.
- The quality and flavor of dehydrated foods vary a great deal.
- Consuming dry goods and dehydrated foods may require the process of re-hydration before eating.
- Although the shelf life for other foods can be extended using this method, it is very difficult to achieve a long shelf life for meat.
- Dry and dehydrated foods require a large amount of water to be used.
- Purchasing dehydrated food at the store can be costly.
Despite some of the cons of this storage method, dried and dehydrated foods can be an excellent way to supplement your food storage.
We always recommend having a few different types of food stored away – canned food, dried, dehydrated, and fresh.
The shelf life of dry foods and dehydrated foods
The most popular method of storing dry goods is within a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber and then placed in a 5-gallon bucket.
Dry foods have a very long shelf life. For instance, much dry food like flour or rice can last for decades.
The shelf life of dried goods depends not only on how it is stored but also on the food’s oil content. Oilier dry foods will spoil faster than non-oily foods; for example, soybeans and brown rice will spoil faster than white rice or flour due to the oil content.
The most popular dry foods like pasta, wheat, oats, rice and beans can all last up to 30 years if stored properly.
Dehydrated foods can also last a long time, but only if they are properly prepped and stored. The higher amount of moisture left in them, and the oil content, decrease the shelf life. Depending on storage methods, dehydrated foods can last between 6 months to a few decades.
You can purchase premade dehydrated foods, or you can do it yourself at home much cheaper with the right equipment.
Here are some common shelf lives for dehydrated foods:
- Fruit: 5 years, up to 20 years if properly dehydrated
- Vegetables: Up to 20 years
- Eggs: Up to 10 years
- Meat: Up to 1 year, most often shorter than that
- Milk: Up to 20 years
Ideal storage conditions for dry goods and dehydrated foods
The ideal conditions for long-term storage of dry and dehydrated food are the same. Keeping dry and dehydrated foods protected from moisture, light, and oxygen is essential for preserving their longevity and preventing bacteria from growing.
Keeping dry food at a stable temperature is important. Place your dry foods in an air-tight container and store them at a cooler temperature than room temperature to maximize shelf life.
The generally accepted best way to preserve these foods is to package them in sealed Mylar bags and use oxygen absorbers. One major problem is that oxygen will deteriorate the quality of food storage, which is why you should avoid it.
By pouring the foods into a Mylar bag and placing an oxygen absorber inside, then sucking any air out, you can prevent this. Once this is done, it gets placed into a 5-gallon bucket to protect it from the elements.
As long as you remember to keep out any moisture and oxygen and store your dry goods in a temperature-stable environment away from sunlight, you will ensure that they will have the longest shelf life possible.
Label containers with contents and date stored
Always remember to label containers with the contents and date they were stored. This will help you to not only remember what’s inside but to rotate the food appropriately.
Inspect your dry food stores regularly for signs of rodents or bacteria
You want to make sure to inspect your dry food stores regularly for any signs of rodents or bacteria.
If you find anything, immediately discard the products and thoroughly clean the area with a bleach solution. Rodents are the leading cause of foodborne illness, and their droppings can pose a major health hazard.
Always be on the lookout for evidence that they might have taken up residence near your dry goods stores. A good way to do this is by storing all foods in airtight containers or metal cans with tight-fitting lids – preferably ones that are rodent resistant.
Rats love nibbling through bags and boxes!
Final thoughts on storing dry goods
If you’re looking for an affordable way to store food, dry goods such as rice and beans are a great option. They have a long shelf life and can be used alongside other foods to round out your diet.
The best part is they cost the least of all types of emergency food stores, so if you’re prepping on a budget, this should definitely be at the top of your list!
What kind of dry goods do you like? Let us know in the comments below!