Do You Need to Put Desiccant Packs in Your Long Term Food Storage

I recently received the following question. “Just beginning to do some food storage.  I live in sunny BUT humid central Florida.  We often have 80-90 percent humidity outside.  We do have central air but concerned about repacking staples into Mylar, Mason jars and plastic juice/soda bottles.  Would you recommend using the desiccant packs?  I am not concerned about after it is repackaged (have a nice dark, dry closet) just figuring that getting it in the packaging might expose it to too much moisture to begin with”.

This is a good question and one I have seen come up regularly.  While it has always been my opinion that this is not too much of a problem if the grain or beans are kept dry, since I live in a fairly dry climate, I have done some additional research on the subject.

The LDS Church says that as long as the moisture content is less than 10%, it is not a problem.  See the warning that they have on their website.  “Warning: Botulism poisoning may result if moist products are stored in packaging that reduces oxygen. When stored in airtight containers with oxygen absorbers, products must be dry (about 10% or less moisture content).”

That being said, they do not use desiccant packs in there canneries even in Florida.  It is relatively easy to determine roughly the percentage of moisture in your grains and beans.  Use the test suggested in the following article The effects of Temperature and Moisture on Stored Grains.  Check the source of your products and make sure you are buying low moisture products and not something that has been sitting outside in the rain.

Another factor is that Oxygen absorbers require a small amount of moisture to work; desiccants may stop them from functioning.  None of the food storage companies use them in long-term dry storage foods.

Sorbent Systems a major distributor of food storage supplies says the following

“ If you are concerned about humidity affecting your food product? (rice, wheat, beans and other dry grains…..)
We have a clearly established protocol and procedure for providing a solution to this problem.

One to two individual 1 oz. packets of desiccant should be placed in the bottom of your MylarFoil™ bag prior to filling with product.  The oxygen absorber is then placed on top for sealing.  Note: This is the recommended procedure for the 20.0″ x 30.0″ bag (P/N: 20MFS30) that is designed for 5 and 6 gallon pails.”

Hope this answers your question.

Howard

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12 thoughts on “Do You Need to Put Desiccant Packs in Your Long Term Food Storage”

  1. I’m very new to all this long term food storage. I read somewhere to freeze rice for a week to kill any possible bugs before long term storage. I’m assuming they thaw it out, but if you do this wouldn’t that increase the moisture content of your rice? Would you need ore desiccant packets?

    1. Because of the climate in which I live I have never used desiccant packs, just oxygen absorbers. Commercial packed products do not have desiccant packs although it wont hurt to put them in. I have never put rice in the freezer just canned it in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. The lack of oxygen should kill any bugs in the rice.
      Howard

    2. Hi I have the same question my rice bags are not the cheap plactic they are heavy from India.. did you ever find an ansewer to this?
      Thank you

    3. Sorry my reply went to wrong place.. did u ever find the ansewer to this does the rice get mosture in bags from freezer? My rice bags are heavy from India not the cheap bags.
      Thank you
      Diane

  2. I was wondering if you could use a little rice with things like dried fruits and vegetables to absorb the moisture so there is less chance of botulism. Will the rice leave enough moisture for the oxygen absorbers to still work? Is the rice going to rot or anything and ruin the whole pack? Just an idea. I tried a search and came up with nothing. But I read somewhere someone puts rice in w/sugar and salt so it doesnt clump up. Thanks, Megan.

  3. JOSEPH BRDABERRY

    I froze some beans and took the out of the freezer and they have condensation on them. Is it safe after they thaw out and dry to store them for long term? Sorry, I’m very new to all this.

    1. Freeze your stables (rice, flour,beans etc) for 3 days let thaw out 24 hours then refreeze (1st freeze kills live bugs, 2nd freeze will kill any eggs that may be left, if you are not using oxygen absorbers (be sure to completely dry out before sealing). If using oxygen absorbers they say lack of oxygen will kill any bugs, therefore, only use one method or the other. I personally do both just to be safe!
      DO NOT USE OXYGEN ABSORBERS WITH SUGAR…it will become hard as a brick!! Hope this helps.

  4. I am wondering about Botulism growing in dehydrated raw liver. The temperature that I have seen used is about 115-125F for 20-30 hours. Then a powder is made from the dehydrated raw liver. Then the powder is put into capsules. The CDC, FDA says all meat must be cooked at 160F for 5 minutes to kill any Botulism spores. I am confused between these 2 directions and can’t find an answer anywhere. Thanks!

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