20+ Foods that must be re-packaged for long-term storage and how to repackage them

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As a follow-up to my blog post about which foods you shouldn’t plan on storing long-term, here’s a list of foods typically found at grocery stores that can be stored but must be repackaged. I go into much greater detail with food storage in my book, but here’s what you need to know about repackaging food.

20+ Foods That Must Be Repackaged For Long-Term Storage and How To Repackage Them via The Survival Mom

Keep in mind, that by repackaging these foods you will also be protecting them from oxygen, pests, and humidity, three of the five enemies of food storage. (The other 2 are heat and light.)

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  • Raisins and other dried fruit
  • Oatmeal
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Any type of cookie or cracker
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Bread crumbs
  • Cornmeal
  • Candy
  • Pancake mix (Sometimes these are packaged directly inside the cardboard box without any type of inner plastic bag.)
  • Pasta, rice, and potato convenience mixes, such as Rice-a-Roni, Pasta-Roni, instant potatoes, scalloped potato mixes, etc. (These may either have microscopic insect eggs inside the package already and/or be invaded by insects and rodents from the outside.)
  • Tea bags (Repackage for best flavor and longest possible shelf life.)
  • Dried, instant milk (If not already in a sealed can.)
  • Spices and herbs packaged in plastic bags
  • Shortening (Pack it into canning jars and then seal using a vacuum sealer.)
  • Chocolate chips, baking chips of any flavor
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Sugar, brown sugar and powdered sugar
  • Any type of mix to make bread, cornbread, pizza dough, etc.
  • Most anything else that is packaged in flimsy plastic bags and/or cardboard. This type of packaging is not intended for long-term storage, but that doesn’t mean the food inside can’t have a longer shelf life if repackaged correctly.

Repackaging with a vacuum packing machine

A vacuum packing machine, such as the Food Saver is my own preferred method of repackaging small to moderate amounts of food. These machines can be found on eBay and Craigslist at very affordable prices. Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Cabela’s carry them as well.

Pour the food into one of the plastic bags suitable for your machine and follow the machine’s instructions for vacuum sealing the bag. Use a Sharpie to mark the date sealed on the outside as well as the name of the food. (“Golden raisins, June 21, 2013”)

If a food can be easily crushed, such as cookies or crackers, place them in a large canning jar and seal it with your machine and a jar lid attachment. This is very convenient and gives long term results. If you want to store shortening, pack it into a canning jar, place the lid on top, cover with the jar sealer and seal it. Here is more information from the Food Saver company.

All the foods on my list can be packaged in canning jars, but I’ve had problems with using the vacuum sealer with very powdery foods, such as flour. Storing food in canning jars is especially handy if you are storing food for just 1 or 2 persons or cannot lift heavy buckets and large mylar bags.

This video shows how to seal foods in canning jars.

Some foods with sharp edges, such as pasta, can wear through the plastic storage bag. To avoid this you can seal the food and then place it in a second sealing bag and seal a second time or place it first in a zip-loc bag (do not seal) and then into the food storage bag. The machine will suck the air out of both bags, sealing them shut at the same time.

Use food safe plastic buckets

Yes, the big plastic bucket — a staple in many a prepper/survivalist pantry. These buckets are popular because they can hold a very large amount of food, making many smaller containers  unnecessary. The plastic protects food from light, and although rodents and some insects can chew their way through the bucket to the food, that takes some time, and hopefully, you’ve pest-proofed your pantry!

It’s easy to obtain 5 gallon buckets, but smaller sizes may be harder to come by. Grocery store bakeries buy things like frostings and fillings in food safe buckets and those are smaller. Often they will sell used buckets and may even give them away for free.

The biggest downside to the 5 gallon bucket is its weight. I cannot easily lift one of these when it’s filled with food. Dragging it along the ground is about all I can manage. And, once the bucket is opened, you’ll have to plan on using the food inside within a reasonable amount of time, say 6 months or so if storage conditions are optimal, or reseal the bucket. Many people solve this problem simply by repackaging smaller amounts of food, such as using a one gallon mylar bag, along with an oxygen absorber, and then filling up buckets with the small packages.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to protect the food in an opened bucket from pests and deterioration caused by heat and humidity. I recommend using Gamma Seal lids to make it easier to open and close buckets. They will also help to keep pests out of the food.

I’ve written about storing food in buckets with more details here.

Add oxygen absorbers to extend shelf life

Pour your food into a canning jar, mylar bag or a food-safe bucket of an appropriate size. Just before sealing with the lid, drop in oxygen absorbers according to this chart:

100 cc absorber            32-ounce canning jar

300 cc                             #10 can

300 cc                              1 gallon container

1500 cc                            5 gallon container

For more detailed  instructions, read this. Oxygen absorbers are available on Amazon, from food storage retail stores, and I’ve even seen them in Winco grocery stores.

I also use empty and sanitized 2-liter soda bottles for things like rice and oats and add a 100 cc absorber just before capping the bottle.

Keep mind that as you open the package of absorbers, they start absorbing oxygen. You’ll know this is happening because they get hot. Quickly place the required number of absorbers in each container with the food and then store the remaining absorbers in a canning jar. (The lid of a canning jar gives a much tighter seal than other jars.)

The process of vacuum sealing using a Food Saver removes most of the oxygen that exists inside the bag. This will prolong the shelf life of those foods. However, over time I’ve found that air can and does leak into the sealed bags. When storing these vacuum sealed bags, do check on them at least once a year to see if any have refilled with air, and if so, open the bag and reseal.

A word about dry pack canning for long term storage food

Dry pack, or oven, canning is a process that involves pouring DRY food into canning jars, heating the jars, and then sealing them with lids and rings.

To be very clear, dry/oven canning is not the same as traditional canning, which uses a water bath or pressure canner. It’s simply heating up dry foods in canning jars and then closing them with seals and lids.

Since this article was first posted, I received a number of questions about dry canning, sometimes called oven canning. At first, the method sounded like an inexpensive way to repackage dry foods but with quite a bit of research, I haven’t come up with any true advantages and there are a couple of reasons to avoid this method.

From my research, it seems like the only advantages to this process is possibly killing insect eggs with the heat and that it doesn’t require the expense of a Food Saver.

A much better way to insure insect eggs are killed is by placing tightly sealed containers of food in the freezer for at least a week.

Heating these jars in the oven does not remove oxygen, which is a necessary step in prolonging shelf life. Storing any food in glass jars continues to allow the food to be affected by light, which also deteriorates food. (Store filled glass jars in boxes, under beds, and in any container that doesn’t allow in light for longest possible shelf life.)

The possibility of glass breakage exists since canning jars are designed to be heated in wet environments, such as a hot water bath, and not in a dry oven. Canning jars are made from tempered glass, which is designed to break into hundreds of fairly harmless little particles, not shards. However, to be on the safe side, it’s best to use canning jars for their original purpose only.[aweber-form]

How dangerous is dry/oven canning? If only dry foods, such as flour or oats are involved, I’d say the risk of a glass jar exploding in the oven is very slight. Bacterial growth in such foods is negligible as long as no moisture is present. Some nutrients will be lost due to the application of heat, but dangerous? In my many hours of research, I’m not convinced, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason to use this method, either! All it seems to do is heat up the food, maybe kill insect eggs, but little else.

The previous repackaging methods I’ve listed are far easier and more effective in lengthening the shelf life of food, which is the main point of this activity in the first place!

Want to learn more about food storage and getting your home ready for emergencies?

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128 thoughts on “20+ Foods that must be re-packaged for long-term storage and how to repackage them”

    1. With a medium size spatula, scoop shortening into a canning jar. Press the shortening into the jar, making sure you have no air pockets. When the jar is filled, place a lid on top and use the jar sealer attachment to vacuum air out of the jar.

          1. I read an artical yrs back, where they found a pint jar of shortening , in the remains of an old house ,dated 60 yrs prior & when they opened it ,it was still good. This wasn’t a story promoting prepping. It was a story of interest in the news paper.

          2. Shortening used to be sold in metal cans which gave it a longer shelf life. Now the cans have metal tops and bottoms but the sides are some kind on treated cardboard. Reduced the shelf life a lot.

  1. Would there be a problem of just melting the shortening and then pour it in the jar and then seal??? Would eliminate any air pockets this way .

  2. Vacuum canning in a regular glass canning jar with a metal lid does remove the air and provides an air-tight barrier as long as the seal holds. You have to check the seal periodically because vacuum sealed jars sometimes become unsealed despite careful handling and cool storage — I know this from personal experience.

    The channelized FoodSaver bags are air permeable. Not right away, but eventually and you will be very disappointed if you are counting on them to keep your dry foods oxygen-free. This is true even if you put an oxygen absorber inside each bag.

    You have to put the filled FoodSaver bag inside a slightly larger Mylar bag and seal the Mylar along with an oxygen absorber to get a truly oxygen-free barrier. Or put several filled FoodSaver bags inside a Mylar bag-lined food 5-gallon bucket along with oxygen absorbers and heat seal the Mylar.

    The FoodSaver machine cannot vacuum the air from a Mylar bag because the Mylar is not channelized, but it can heat seal the Mylar. The way to remove the air plus make a seal on Mylar quickly is to do what the commercial packagers of Mylar bag-filled meals, such as Mountain House, do — you buy a special type of vacuum sealer that can handle Mylar.

    The only type of these machines that is small enough and affordable enough for household use that I have been able to find is one called the Snorkel-Vac. You can do a quick internet search to find the company’s web side a read about the Snorkel-Vac if you like.

  3. I love this post! Thank you so much!! If I were to store rice-a-roni, instant potatoes or anything like that just like you stated in these instructions, how long to you think it would keep?

  4. When I vacuum can basic dry ingredients such as instant rice, instant plain mashed potatoes, dehydrated shredded or cubed potatoes, dried apple slices or wild rice, I just put them in the jar, vacuum seal and then store in a cardboard box (light barrier) in a cool pantry. When I vacuum can anything that could hatch grain eating maggots (baking mix, pancake mix, cake mixes, fat-free bleached flour crackers, instant or rolled oats, museli and granola mixes) I first freeze the product at least 72 hrs and then let it come back to room temp before vacuum canning. Maybe the freezing is unnecessary if the food is oxygen free, but if the seal breaks and oxygen gets in, who knows if those insect eggs could hatch before I notice the broken seal. I never try to store brown rice or barley because the fat in these two whole grains will go rancid in about 6 mos unless kept frozen.

    Any product that has dried milk or a milk product (whey powder, sour cream powder, cheese powder) in it can not last longer than 10 yrs under the best preservation conditions, unless kept frozen and protected from freezer burn, so I always check the ingredients list to see if there is any milk product in the dry food. If there is, I know I will have to use it within 10 years (I always put the date of purchase/vacuum canning on my jars). I love my Cheez-It crackers and sour cream and chive flavored instant mashed potatoes but know they have a limited shelf life even when vacuum canned. It’s amazing the number of emergency food buckets being sold that claim 25 yrs storage on the front label, yet on the back label reveal that a lot of the packaged meals inside have milk products in them.

    Anything that has fat in it could go rancid in two years even if stored in an oxygen-free container in a cool dark pantry. It’s best to try to find fat-free or low fat items for dehydration and vacuum canning. If you have a cheese flavored rice mix and the fatty stuff is in a separate pouch from the rice, I would put the pouch in a food save plastic bag, pour the rice in the canning jar and set the bagged pouch on top before vacuum sealing — that way even if the stuff in the pouch goes bad before you can use it, the rice will still be useable. I would avoid any of those rice or pasta mixes that have the milk product mixed in with all the other ingredients unless I was sure I would use it before the milk product went rancid.

    When I vacuum can commercially produced beef jerky, I try to find the lowest fat version and I will go the extra step of home dehydrate any of the softer versions of jerky to remove that extra moisture before vacuum canning. Milk chocolate is one of those things that has both fat and milk products in it so you are best off vacuum canning 70% cocoa dark chocolate candy rather than the less expensive milk chocolate candy. Even better is just vacuum canning Dutch process cocoa and making your own chocolate goodies from scratch.

  5. If you are using the vacuum sealer for canning dry foods, Do you have to use a new seal as you were with regular canning. Or can you reuse the seals?

    Thank you for blog. We are learning so much!!

  6. The Mylar acts as a second barrier. Sometimes food grade buckets with oxygen absorbers can still let in very small amounts of air (plastic is air permeable) and over a long amount of time those small amounts of air add up. The Mylar lining is then acting as the air tight seal while the food grade bucket is protecting from other things (like bugs, mice, water, etc) and making it stack-able and easier to carry.

  7. Ok, here’s a good one… I’m tasked with the responsibility of making potato latkes in Colorado. I live in NY and would prefer to make them here and BRING THEM, since making latkes (or anything potato based) is a challenge in high-altitudes AND we’ll be in a hotel in Colorado (with a kitchen).

    The latke mix has mashed potatoes, grated onions, matzoh mix, and (raw) eggs. I could make the MIX here and vacuum it (and then freeze) OR I could make/fry the latkes here and then vacuum/freeze it. Which is the better move? I’m thinking the later, but its easier to make the mix here and fry there… and the smell would warm everyone up for these amazing latkes. 🙂

    Many thanks,
    -Rich

  8. Do you think I could store hot chocolate mix for LTS? I have read that products that contain any form of milk (even nonfat dry milk) contains too much fat and will go rancid. Any help would be appreciated!

  9. I am wondering the same thing. I want to prepare the hot cocoa mix, with chocolate chips and marshmallows in jars to have it ready for Christmas as little presents for family. Would it go bad within the next month if I do that?

  10. I used 1 gal. mylar bags and slipped a 1 gal. zip lock storage bag inside. Filled the zip lock bag with flour (to contain the flour), and pastas (so the pasta would not puncher the mylar) and an oxygen absorber in each. I left the zip lock bag partially open, push out some of the air from the mylar and sealed with an iron. The mylar bags did not suck up tight but left air in the bag. I think the seal is good. Did using the storage bag cause this problem?

  11. I bought a few 25 lb. bag of quick oats about 2 years ago. I divided them up into clean 2-liter plastic bottles and added one oxygen absorber. I can tell the absorber is working because the bottles are slightly sucked in.
    Now as I dip into my supply, I’m finding that the oats have a really bitter taste when cooked. So bitter I can barely stand to eat oatmeal with sugar added.
    They smell normal, and I don’t see any signs of mold or bugs.
    Does the bitterness mean they’ve gone rancid/bad, despite my efforts to store them properly? Help!

    1. It may be the BPH of the plastic bottles has leeched. I have found 1/2 gallon glass jars and O2 absorbers to work best for flavor on oats and rice.

  12. Nice info.
    Just wondering if I need to use oxygen obsorbers to store (in food saver bags) the items listed above such as raisins, choc chips crackers? I am just looking to extend there shelf life from 1-2 years to around 4-5 years. Thanks for the help.

    Failuar to prepare, is preparing to fail.

  13. Great info. Thanks.
    If I was going to store some of the foods listed above(raisins, nuts, cookies,ect) in vacuume bags, would I also need to use oxygen obsorbers? Instead of the food above lasting for 1 to 2 years, if I use vacuum bags and O2 sealers could I get them to last for four or five years?

  14. I have several cake mixes and want to preserve them. Can I vacuum seal them and place them in mylar bags for storage.

    1. Yes, you can vacuum seal them. However, moving forward, I recommend storing the ingredients to make cakes from scratch. Cocoa, sugar, baking soda, etc. all have much longer shelf lives and are all more versatile than the mixes.

  15. Hi Lisa,
    I am new to all this and can’t find any straight answers on what I need.
    I have a couple questions about vacuum sealing, dehydrating food for them and Mylar bags.
    1st, are there limitations to what you can dehydrate and then put into mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and using a seal a meal?
    2nd are you limited on what you can store in the bags.
    Can I do eggplant parm or lasagna? and store in mylar bags?
    I want to make my own eggplant parm which would have meat and sauce as well. I want to get a good dehydrator like an Excalibur 4 Tray 2400 Food Dehydrator. I know I would have to chop it up good 1st.
    If so how long would it last for? I buy mountain house, but the prices are going up.
    I also want to store rice and beans, are they ok to completely vacuum out the are with oxygen absorbers too in a mylar bag, if so how long are they good for? Is there anything I should vacu-seal?
    Thank you for your help, Paul

    1. Paul, I would recommend dehydrating the individual ingredients rather than the entire dish, if you are expecting to store them long term. You could dehydrate the sauce and put in one sealed bag, dehydrate the eggplant and seal in another, the cheese separately, and the meat, ditto. That way, if one ingredient goes bad, it won’t ruin the entire batch. As well, you may decide down the road to use the individual ingredients in a different way. I would recommend against dehydrating recipes that include dairy ingredients. If you want dehydrated cheese, I would highly recommend buying freeze dried cheese and apportioning it in separate mylar bags with oxy absorbers. Commercially dried cheese will last far longer and be safer to consume than home-dehydrated — unless you plan on eating it within 6 months or so.

      Individual ingredients all have different shelf lives, which is another good reason to separate them for storage. It is absolutely VITAL that all stored foods be kept in the coolest part of the house, year round. Store them in darkness and protect it from insects and rodents. That should cover all your bases and maximize the shelf life.

      Rice and beans have very long shelf lives, especially rice. By all means, portion them out in mylar or Food Saver bags, add an oxy absorber, and then vacuum seal.

      On all these packages, use a Sharpie to write the date it was sealed. Hope this helps!

  16. On your dry pack canning, you don’t say for how long to keep the items in the oven before taking them out and putting the seal and ring on them, or do you put them in the oven with the seal and ring on with the oven at 200 degrees? Wondering how long. Want to store some plain pasta’s and also some dry commercial cereals. You said you could put an oxygen absorber in them as well, so that would mean the lids were off for heating the product and jar, and then the oxygen absorber put in and the lid and ring put on? Wondering procedure for this, need a bit more information. Is the only thing you are heating is the jar itself and not the product you want to long term can via dry canning? Not sure I fully understand. Thanks if you can give me more information.

  17. Dry canning, or oven canning is very controversial. It is not a recommended safe practice. The FDA does not recommend it, canning experts do not use it, even the makers of canning jars and products do not recommend it. It is not safe in so many ways. Please, do your research. Don’t become a victim of the latest Internet fad. Remember, just because you saw someone on the Internet doing/saying it, does not make it true.

    1. I didn’t learn about dry canning from the internet, and I have read some of the dissenting opinions. But I don’t see a downside to this. One writer said that it kills nutrients because it heats up the food, but so does canning. I have no idea why putting flour, sugar, beans, pasta, etc. in jars would be unsafe.

    2. The dry canning mentioned here is not for creating food items like jams, pickles, meat, etc. It is simply a method of prepping a single dry ingredient for long term storage. It does not promote food poisoning in these products. The danger here would be mostly the potential of broken glass.

    3. I realize this is an old thread but I wanted to add a comment. I read about dry canning in the oven many years ago in “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery. I have used the method with good results. This is not a new fad at all. It works. A jar that would crack in the oven would certainly crack in boiling water. The jars must be absolutely dry as well as any food you’re storing. You wouldn’t dry can and hot water can at the same time—you don’t want a steamy kitchen while you’re packing dry food. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this method at all.

  18. Hi. Wondering if someone can tell me if things like coffee beans and chocolate chips should stay in their original packaging and then vacuum seal in canisters/jars?

      1. Hi, I am just starting to use the vacuum sealer for longer term storage.
        1) are you suggesting to put an absorber in the bags?
        2) shelf life for chocolate chips, rice, flour after Ive sealed?
        thanks!

        1. When vacuum sealing, you do not need to use an oxygen absorber. Hopefully, the vacuum process will remove the oxygen. Shelf life of the foods you list? In an oxygen-free environment and stored in a cool, dark, and dry location, those foods will last for many years. For the rice and flour, easily 15+ years. The chocolate chips, even at optimal storage conditions, I’d say less than 5 years.

          1. New to you site. I am really enjoying it and learning a lot. I like to vacuum seal. I have the jar attachment to vacuum seal quart and 1/2 gallon jars. Do you or anyone else know if there is a jar attachment for gallon jar lids. Or a way to retro fit my current attachment to work. I have many and would like to be able to vacuum seal them for long term storage. Thank you for the help.

  19. When doing the repackaging using the process of heating in the oven at 200 degrees, to you put the lid on before or after heating in the oven? Also, how long do you cook in oven at 200 degrees and once process is complete, how long is tge repackaged food good for?

  20. Charles Campbell

    I am a 68 year old prepper and I want to be able to store coffee and tea for a maximum number of years. What is the best way to do this? I will purchase the necessary tools to do this.

    1. Charles, the most important things to guard against are heat, light, oxygen, and moisture. Coffee and tea should be stored in containers that are completely sealed and include a 100cc oxygen absorber. Keep them in the coolest part of the house and away from light. That should give you at least 10+ years of fresh tasting and smelling coffee and tea.

      1. So If I buy a can of coffee, open it, put the coffee in a mylar bag with the 100 cc absorber and then just seal it…it will have a good shelf life? 10+ years? Or should it be vacuum sealed, no absorber and stored safely?

  21. Thank you Survival Mom for all this good info. When canning rice mixes or bean mixes that come with the flavoring envelopes, can I place the unopened envelope in the jar with the rice and still vacum seal all of it together? How long will they keep? This Ebola scare has made me see the need to prepare for my family so thanks for helping me.

  22. I am just getting started on storing food. What I would like to know is ; how do you know how long you can store food? I know everything is different but I don’t know what shelf life is for different foods.

    1. Jeanette, there is no hard and fast rule for how long a food will retain its nutritional value, flavor, texture, and original color because all that depends on how the food is stored. Food stored in consistently cool temperatures, about 70 degrees or cooler, will stay freshest, longest. The storage area should also be dark and dry. If rodents or insects are a problem, you should also take that into consideration and do what you can to stop them from chewing their way into food containers.

      This is why food storage companies that make claims about their food having a 20, 25, or 30 year shelf life are being a little bit disingenuous. Yes, the food might last that long under optimum conditions, but if someone in Phoenix buys the food and it’s kept in temps of 80-85 degrees, the shelf life will be shortened by many years.

  23. I am mostly concerned with dry milk. I have some in #10 cans and they say they are good for 20 years. I understand about storage conditions. If stored in mylar bags with Oxygen absorbers can they be stored for 10 to 20 years? are they comparitive to cans? thanks

  24. REPLY TO KIM (reply button does not work)
    It could be the containers you used: plastic is NOT safe to store foods in, as it will degrade and the food will become infused with the toxins from the plastic. You used plastic soda bottles, which have degraded and most likely allowed the food to become contaminated.
    Food grade plastic is supposed to be safe for storing foods, but I still don’t like the food coming in direct contact, hence the mylar bags.

  25. Love your site. You have given great info and did a great job answering questions. I love my Food Saver. I use mine so often it has a permanent home in a handy spot so I can use it without having to pull anything out of a cupboard.

  26. About storing the oxygen packets – I buy at the local WinCo the bulk department. They sell in 50 and 100 packet pouches. I use my food saver to reseal into a food saver bag those that have not been used yet. pulls out more air on the max than when I used the canning jar sealing method. Thank you for the answers I sought out about storage for 2. I too cannot lift the 5 gallon buckets, but WinCo in my area carries the 2.5 gal and the gamma lids. These work for me. Husband cannot be without his Cheerios!

  27. Hi,
    I have some sprouting seeds, flours that I need to seal up..We are moving into our RV so I am wanting to put things into storage..Do you think just the seal bags would be enough? I don’t have large amounts and I don’t want the seeds (Sun flour, what berries and sprouting seeds) to go to waste..Currently I just have them in canning jars
    Thanks
    K

  28. i received a half gallon of black olive in it own juices, can I repack this in pint jars with hot bath canner?

  29. great reading! this goes to the top of my list.

    thank you, thank you for the break down on how many oxygen packs to use per sized container!!!

  30. A pancake mix is a great idea! We live in the country, so there are regular problems in the winter after the snow falls. Thanks a lot for the tips!

  31. Pingback: 52 Weeks Savings Plan: August Deals Bring Summer To a Close | Prepper Junkie

  32. Hi, I would like to store pasta for a long time. So I was wondering if I got this right, freeze pasta (to kill bugs) for 72 hours, get back to room temp, place in a storage bag unsealed, place in a food saver bag with a absorber. Keep in cool dark place and date it. I bought everything now I’m ready to start, I thank u for helping me along

    1. Monica, put the pasta in an airtight container. You don’t want any moisture, or at least as little as possible, getting into the pasta. Freeze it for a week, not just 72 hours. I’ve read articles that recommend up to 2 weeks, but 1 week is plenty. Then use your Food Saver to seal it. Since the vacuum sealing process does remove the oxygen, technically you don’t need to add an oxygen absorber but some people do. Check those bags every so often because over time, some air can seep in. In that case, use scissors to trim off the sealed edge and just reseal.

      Sounds like you have a good plan overall! Good luck!

  33. I have been ” getting prepared” for about 6 years. I am from a soft drink bottling background and plastic 2 liter bottles are somewhat permeable , they will lose their carbonation after awhile through the bottle itself. So if it can allow air ( co2) out , I wonder if o2 could go the other way? Worth checking out, I love your web site and have followed it for quite some time . Thank you for your research , insight and inspiration !

  34. Question on cooking oils…

    On long term storage of cooking oils such as olive oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil etc, can they be stored long term IF they are purchased in glass containers and the lid seal isn’t broken? In cool, dark area? Or would they need to be re-bottled?

    1. The oil will still become rancid. It’s just the nature of most oils. Olive oil has a longer shelf life and you can freeze it. No need to repackage oils, since they are already in sealed containers. Storing them in a dark, cool place will help extend shelf life but not much more than a few months, at most.

  35. Lisa,
    Why are we stocking so much oil (canola/cooking) if it goes rancid so quickly?
    We can’t use it that quickly…it is possible to can it to preserve it – even though it’s already in a sealed container? Would it last any longer??? Or do you think just store in dark area???

  36. I want to store cook and serve jello puddings, jello packages and pancake mix that just comes in the box. Can I place the boxes into a bag and seal or do I have to take the box off, first?

  37. I would like to store GF Pretzels in a #10 can. If I open the Mylar bags they come in, pour them into a can and add an oxygen packet and seal.. that should be ok? How much longer will they last being done this way over keeping them in their own bags(right now the date on the bag is 18 months out).

    I was gifted a 3 liter tin can of virgin olive oil dated 1999 – part of a Y2K collection that a friend had in her basement. When she passed a few months ago, a couple of us were responsible for clearing out her place and we took her food storage home to see if any of it was usable. The jars that had popped the most seemed to contain tomato products. There were a few other loose lids.. and one jar, the lid had not been cleaned before putting away and the lid had been eaten through!!

    We opened the oil and are presently using it. I have a sibling who can smell something ‘turning’ when it is just on the edge of doing so.. she didn’t even smell anything ‘off’. I just finished using a tin can of virgin olive oil dated 2012. (We don’t use much oil in our home!) We have kept the oil in a cool place when we were not using the large can… as we pour 1 Pt. out to be used and refill as needed.

    The jarred meat was maybe a little mushier, but I am using it in stews and soups with no problems. The jarred fruit is really mushy!! We are using that up in smoothies although I am looking for recipes that use canned pears and applesauce, as I have several cases of those!

    We found food in her pantry and nuts (even those that had oxygen packets and sealed) didn’t seem to last longer than 3 years.. even in a basement setting.

    The most interesting thing (for me) was that my friend didn’t dehydrate anything. She probably thought that she would be using the food right away and didn’t need to do so. She had bags of prunes, cranraisions, raisons, blueberries, fruit cake fruit in those plastic container they come in, all in their original heavy plastic bags. They were stacked in rows according to type… I opened bags and have finished dehydrating a lot of the fruit – but they were still very tasty when I opened their bags.

    While we had been in her basement – we had never been in a back corner behind ‘storage boxes’ that protected her ‘stash’ which was in a space about the size of a closet. LOTS of dust and cobwebs… we were delighted that the grains are ok, and I would say 90% of her food storage was still intact all these years later and without all of it being stored ‘properly’. (I would ALWAYS store food for long term even if I didn’t know how long I was going to store it.)

    1. Hi Joyce. Yes, your plan to repackage the pretzels is a good one. As far as their shelf life, that will depend on their storage conditions. Always store food in the coolest spot in the house. The ideal food storage temperature is 70 degrees, which most of us would have a hard time maintaining — just do your best. The mylar bag and oxy absorber will protect the food from both light and oxygen. If you put the newly sealed mylar bags in something like a plastic bin with a lid, it will help keep insects or rodents from chewing through the bags.

      Great idea for using up the mushy fruit! Old food gets mushy over time and loses flavor, color, texture, and nutrients.

    1. Yes, and that will prolong their shelf life but not indefinitely, for sure. The onion rings contain oil, which will become rancid. Try vacuum sealing a can or two or three, marking the date on the jar or lid, and then marking on your calendar maybe 6 or 9 months from now to check on one of the jars. Hopefully they will still be fresh smelling and fresh tasting. If they are, mark your calendar to open another jar maybe 3 or 4 months down the road and then test that batch. Be sure to store these in the coldest part of the house, since heat will quickly deteriorate all foods. Storage area should also be dark and dry. Good luck and if you remember, report back to me your results!

  38. I came across a method of canning dry food… Wash and dry 2 liter bottles or other large juice bottles and lids (plastic) on baking sheets poor out wheat, rice or other dry goods, heat on 200° for 2 hours this kills all eggs and bugs, then when still hot use a funnel and transfer the dry goods into the bottles pack well, as it cools the O2 molecules cool and the O2 levels drop to near vacuum levels.

  39. Lots of good info here! I have been dry storing for several years. Back in Y2K era, I dry canned about 700 lbs of brown rice using the oven method…. What a waste of money! It was all rancid within a short time. I now use a vacuum sealer and canning jars. Just recently, I found one of my brown rice jars way in the back. It was 3.5 years old. I opened it …. NO problems what so ever! ( I also have one of those noses that can smell rancid!) We cooked it and ate. Later I opened a jar dated 12- 14 and it was rancid. I have learned that the trick is to get it in the jar as close to milling time as possible. For instance, I called Lundberg Rice Company and told them the date on my 25 lb rice bag, (this was 9/15) they told me that the rice had been milled 7/30/15. So I put it in the jars and vacuum sealed it. I am expecting a long shelf life out of this rice. I think my rancid rice was bought off of a store shelf , and had probable been sitting around a while and ready to go rancid when I got it. I now get my organic rice from http://www.azurestandard.com . They go thru product rather fast and I have not had any issue with rancid rice, or anything else.

    Have you looked into getting a Harvest Right Freeze Dryer ? ( I have not read thru your whole site so I don’t know if you have one or not.)

    Thanks for all the good info!!

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  41. I am buying bulk dried fruit and am wondering if it is safe to vacuum pack in mylar bags. I’ve read on other blogs that dried fruit can be dangerous to vacuum pack if it has too high water content as it can get botulism. Is there a way to know if a dried fruit has a high water content? Or is all commercially dried fruit safe?
    Thanks for your time!

  42. I know you may have answered this question dozens of times but I want to double check I have it correct. It seems every other place I’ve looked they say to store dry pasta in jars or tight plastic containers and in a pantry. However my food pantry has a window in it and gets sun. Its not dark. According to what I read on your site I can store it in the freezer. This is my preference given a choice. I DO have a vacuum sealer. I don’t have a jar attachment but I need to check to see if one is available. So am I correct, I can store dried pasta in a freezer?

  43. Me again! I just read something I missed first time reading the article. How do you sanitize a two litre soda bottle? I will admit, I have never done this nor has anyone I know to my best knowledge. I don’t usually buy them except at the holidays let alone sanitize them.

    1. Rinse out the empty bottle with plain water and let it air dry. I put the bottle caps in the dishwasher. Once the bottle is completely dry, fill it with rice, popcorn, etc. Add a small oxygen absorber and store in a dark, cool location for longest possible shelf life.

  44. Can you vacuum seal white rice in a vacuum bag? Do you need anything else besides the bag? How long will it last?

  45. I WAS WONDERING IF IT IS SAFE TO VACUUM SEAL BROWN SUGAR AS THERE IS SOME MOISTURE IN IT AND I AM CONCERNED ABOUT BOTULISM GROWING IN THE VACUUM.

    1. Marion,
      Please see the story on the survivalist blog hope my link works
      http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/word-caution-vacuum-sealing-brown-sugar/
      In the story it says
      “Word of caution, it’s considered unsafe to vacuum-seal brown sugar because it can develop bacteria growth. (Source for the following quote: http://www.yourfamilyark.org/food-storage/danger-of-botulism) “Granola, nuts, brown sugar, and dehydrated fruits and vegetables (unless they are dry enough to snap inside and out) should not be stored in reduced oxygen packaging (such as #10 cans or pouches with an oxygen absorber).”

      Hope that is helpful to you.
      God Bless

  46. We are new to food storage and have a question about preserving wheat in 5 gallon buckets. How do you do this to have it last for 20 + years? I can’t find anything online that tells us what to do. Thanks if you can help and I have been reading your tips and articles for a while now. LOVE the info you provide.

    1. Hi Danna!

      There are many articles on this blog about how to repackage food for long term storage. You can try using the search feature to find them, and read in detail. Basically, what you want to do is freeze the wheat (in a completely sealed container so no moisture gets in) for at least a week to 10 days (to kill any weevil or other pest eggs), then return to room temperature. Then, put the room temperature and dry wheat into a mylar bag, add the appropriate number of oxygen absorbers, and seal the mylar bag. Then, put the sealed mylar bag (or bags) into your 5 gallon bucket, then seal the bucket. Store in the coolest, darkest, dryest place you have available. Protect the buckets from any pests. Rotate out what you store (i.e. eat what you store and store what you eat). Some of the most important enemies of food storage are: heat, light, moisture, pests, oxygen, and time. Good luck!

  47. Great tips Lisa. The other thing I like about using the 5 gallon buckets that you mention is that you can also stack one or two buckets on top of each other too. it’s a great space saver. Likewise, you can place multiple mylar bags in the same 5 gallon bucket if you get the 1 gallon or quart sized buckets. Thanks for such an informative blog post.

  48. I’ve vacuum sealed a quantity of walnuts and almonds. Would it be best to put those in the freezer or is that not necessary? Thanks much!

    1. Without oxygen, the nuts won’t become rancid. So storing them at room temperature will be fine. You may want to re-seal them once a year or every other year. Oxygen can seep into the sealed cans over time.

    1. Cornmeal is easy to store. Seal it in canning jars using a Food Saver vacuum sealer with a jar lid attachment. Store it in clean and dry 2 liter soda bottles with 1 50 cc oxygen absorber or in small plastic buckets. I recommend putting the sealed containers in the freezer for 7-10 days to kill off microscopic insect eggs that could be in the meal.

  49. I was a Coca-Cola man in m previous life and I can tell you the plastic 2 liter bottles (and the other plastic bottles) are air permeable. Go into a store and try squeezing some of the 2 liters. The older ones will soften as they age and the CO2 escapes.
    I like glass for storage.

  50. A trick that might work for you. When repackaging ground spices, I found the fine dust would interfere with a good seal. I now use a thin plastic bag like the Baggies brand or the grocery store produce bags.

    Place the empty bag into the canning jar. As neatly as possible, fill the bag. Try to get as much air out of the bag as possible. Then twist the bag around and around until you have a long strand or “rope” of plastic bag. Tie an overhand knot as close to the end as possible. This forms a barrier between the powdery product and the seal on the canning jar lid. As the Food Saver removes the air from the jar, the bag has room to expand but does not allow the dust to creep onto the rubber seal. So far, this has worked for well any product that has that fine dust.

  51. If I use the oxygen absorbers, use the food saver and a 5 gallon bucket; do you know what the approximate shelf life would be? I have a dehydrator and was thinking of attempting to create my own emergency survival food instead of buying mountain house.
    Thanks!
    Jo

  52. I recently loaded up several 1 gallon Mylar bags with rice, beans and pasta. I put 2 300 cc Oxygen absorbers in each bag and sealed the bags with my wife’s hair straightener. The pasta bags are sucked tight against the pasta (think vacuum packed coffee). The rice and beans really don’t look much different from before I sealed them shut. Are they supposed to be “vacuum packed” too?

    1. I’ve had the same experience. If you think abuot the foods you packaged, there are different sized air pockets between each of them. Smaller food particles, like rice, will have far less air/oxygen to absorb than larger pieces. Commercial food packaging companies have this down to a science but for the rest of us, we just have to use the oxygen absorber size that correlates with the container we use and call it good. There’s some very helpful information on this page: http://www.sorbentsystems.com/Oxygen_Absorber_Facts.pdf

      1. Cheryl McGovern

        Hi. I really appreciate you video on vacuum packing glass jars for long term storage! I have been avoiding buying and/or storing food in plastic for a year or more now – for everyday food needs. I now want to move into long term storage of food for my partner and I and 2 cup or 4 cup mason jars are all we use and so using them for long term storage of foods we already enjoy eating would allow us to rotate these foods and access them in usable sizes – while avoiding plastics!!!
        So while I’ve read all the comments and posts – I am confused as to why anyone who could buy a Food Saver vacuum machine and glass jars would ever need to buy oxygen or moisture packets or mylar or other plastic bags.
        If I understand the process correctly, I would first freeze the food I want to store (we eat raisins, almonds, oatmeal, wheat berries, corn, beans, dried cranberries, soybeans, tomato sauce, pasta, dried nonfat milk, garlic and onion powders and other spices, coconut sugar, salt, cooked spinach, eggplant, green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, blueberries, strawberries) for 7 days and then pack it into the glass jars. Next I would vacuum seal the top and then store the jar in a dark cool place (and date it). My plan would be to store enough for ten years and then once a month we would eat from the storage and buy another months supply to vacuum jar with label that is dated one more month later than the previous store of food. Do you think this would work?

  53. Hi, thanks for a very interesting and informative article . I’m just wondering if my method works also . I have an extra fridge and freezer in the basement so I keep most of the foods you mentioned in the fridge or freezer . My upstairs pantry is stocked with foods in mason jars but in small quantiles and refilled as needed from fridge. Am I safe from bugs ?

  54. Put all dry goods in the freezer for a week, more if you want. It kills and eggs laid by bugs that hatch and eat your goods. Most of the time you won’t have to do much repackaging.

  55. If you put your dry goods, esp, in the freezer for a week to ten days all the potential eggs laid by bugs, while the “stuff” was in storage before processing, will be killed. That is the main storage problem, even for products not used for emergency storage.

  56. If you are going to package foods in 1 gallon mylar bags to be stored in a 5 gallon bucket, do you have to use food grade buckets?

  57. I recently helped a friend clean out a bug-out property after her husband died. He had a mobile home full of five gallon buckets of food storage. Most of the buckets had been simply filled with bulk items (beans, rice, corn, sugar) with some oxygen absorbers thrown in and lids sealed. We opened one to see what was in it (most were unlabeled) and the beans were rancid.

    Plastic buckets may hold water, but they’re microscopically porous, and adding a heavy duty oxygen absorber sucks oxygen through the walls of the bucket after it disposes of the oxygen inside the bucket. Ideally they should be used to protect otherwise packaged goods from pests and the elements, and provide uniform containers for stacking and storing.

  58. I am 76 yrs old and have limited resources. I don’t have a food sealer and refuse to spend the little funds I have on an electric appliance, mylar bags, etc. I have repacked rice, pancake mix, etc. into mason jars, after putting them in the freezer for a couple of days to hopefully kill any undesirables. I recently bought 8 pkg of organic pasta (in the freezer right now) and don’t know how to properly save it. Was thinking of buying a plastic bucket with a tight fitting lid, and putting things like the packaged pasta into that. Also, I may as well just buy canned or freeze dried items from now on, or maybe I’ve just reached the end of my food prepping!

    1. Like other dry foods, the pasta will need an air-tight container. Canning jars with a small oxygen absorber are better than nothing, but over time, oxygen and light will affect the flavor, appearance, texture, and nutritional value of food. Canned and/or freeze-dried foods are already packaged at the factory for long-term storage as long as they are kept in a cool location.

  59. I read somewhere just last week that said to put your cooking in the freezer to keep it from going rancid…then take it out as needed. So would you pour it into smaller jars etc first or is this just a not the thing to do. I’ve had several bottles go bad lately cause I just don’t use it fast enough but know I need to keep a supply on hand.
    What are your thoughts. Thanks for all you do to help us out.

  60. Pingback: Does Chocolate Go Bad? | KitchenSanity

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  62. One reason why you might need all your survival skills is because we have suffocated the planet under a blanket of plastic. Use less bags that can take from 5 to 50 yrs to degrade. Most end up in the ocean contaminating or suffocating fish life. Convenience is not necessarily a good thing in the long run.

  63. i have brown sugar and boxes of raisins i wouls like to store long term does these items take oxygen asb in the mylar bags

  64. Barbara Stewart

    I have canned 1/2 gallon jars of flour with my food saver. Before sealing I position a coffee filter on top
    of flour then place lid and seal. This works great!t

  65. Raisins pack much better in jars than in bags. If you put raisins, cranberries, or other soft dried fruits in a vacuum bag, they just turn into a brick. In a jar (with an oxygen pack in the top) they stay individual. Dried apples also must be packed in jars, since their sharp corners will puncture bags.
    I have found that fresh, chopped lettuce will keep for up to a month if vacuum packed in jars. It takes a while for my wife and me to go through a whole head of lettuce, and if we pack three or four quart jars with rinsed, chopped lettuce, we can eat the whole head before it turns brown.

  66. Can you take dry beans ,rice ,pasta just straight from the store bag and vacuum seal in a mason jar and store or do you need to debug and go through some sort of infestation caution.

    1. Yes, you can do that but as you know, if there are microscopic insect eggs in the food, they’ll be in the jar. If you remove oxygen from the jar with a food sealer, the lack of oxygen will kill off the eggs. You can also put the food in an airtight container and then put it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or so. That can also help kill insect eggs.

  67. Looking for an efficient way to store a lot of mylar food bags on an open shelf. Any helpful ideas to keep them sorted & not falling off?

      1. My labels are going to be just NUMBERS (1,2,3, etc.). The Explanation of Contents will be something like “Cooking Oil to Recycle”, “Horse Manure for Garden”, Wood Chips for Bedding” and OTHER “non-specifics” that denote Non-DESIRABLE items, which–I hope and pray–will be LESS LIKELY to be STOLEN by a Scavenger or Vandal searching for FOOD!

        The actual list of “contents” will be put elsewhere, not readily accessible or available to someone who’s looking to pilfer my hard-won SUPPLIES!!!

  68. Dry canning will remove some of the oxygen. Here’s why: As air heats it expands and so this will drive a lot of air out of the jar. As the jar cools the air inside will contract creating a vacuum like pressure on the lid. I’m not sure exactly how much oxygen remains, but air is only ~21% oxygen, so it probably isn’t much. If you want to see this in action, cut the top out of a empty dry soda can. Fill the bottom of a metal sink with cold water and a little ice. Hold the soda can with metal tongs over fire until it gets hot, invert the can and plunge into the sink. The can crushes quickly! Very cool and easy science experiment.

  69. I’m just starting. It’s just me and spouse, age 60. I’m not going too overboard, I’ll be storing some rice and oats, but I’m thinking short term. Like 3 months supply. So I’m buying canned goods that we will really eat, like fruits, chili, beans, canned meats and fish. Shelf life is 3 years. I can easily rotate these into our menus. If I have to store for a disaster lasting longer than several months I don’t think I want to survive it.

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