Today I will write about how oxygen affects the shelf life of food. Oxygen supports the growth of microorganisms and causes changes in color. Aerobic bacteria and fungi are able to grow in a oxygen rich environment. It also lets insects thrive and feed on your food. Removing the oxygen prevents these changes from happening and kills the insects. This will greatly increase the shelf life of your food.
Currently there are three common methods to protect your long-term dry pack from the affects of oxygen, vacuum sealing, oxygen absorbers and fumigation with dry ice.
Vacuum sealing- home vacuum sealing is normally done with a Food Saver or similar device. We use a Food Saver to seal mason jars all the time. It definitely extends the life of the food products. Here are some links to prior posts Food Saver Jar Sealer, More on the Food Saver, See my Wife’s FoodSaver Demo.
Fumigating with dry ice – This method works well. I have seen it used but not much in recent years. I will write a blog on it later in the week. It is more time consuming than oxygen absorbers and I can see no advantage in using it.
Oxygen absorbers – this is my favorite method and is currently the most widely used method of removing oxygen in the dry food storage industry. Here is a link to a recent post on them, Answers to Questions About Oxygen Absorbers
Whatever method you use, make sure that your containers are non-permeable. Glass and metal are fine, but plastic breathes. If you are using food grade plastic buckets and oxygen absorbers, the buckets need to be lined with a non-permeable barrier such as a Mylar bag. Here is a link to the method I use, Sealing Food in 5 Gallon Buckets.
The more care you take now the longer your dry pack foods will last.