The Long term Bug Free Storage of Dry Foods

I see posts on the internet about preventing the growth of bugs in grains and other dry food storage.  One method that is widely mentioned is freezing your products for several days prior to canning.  I have been storing foods for over 45 years without bug problems, I have never used freezing to kill bugs. I have used bay leaves, CO2 and oxygen absorbers.  The other thing that I watch very closely is the moisture level in my dry products.  Moisture levels should be below 10%.  See the following post http://bit.ly/Q2huKz to learn how to determine moisture levels

Freezing dry goods can be an effective means of killing insects.  The problem is that there are  questions about whether or not freezing kills the eggs of all the different types of insects that can infest grain.  Remember insect eggs survive outdoors in cold snowy parts of the country.  So if you use this method, it would be a good idea to watch your products to see if insects do show up.

Personally, I like oxygen absorbers, but even with them, you have to be careful.  Studies conducted by BYU show that oxygen deprivation is an effective method of disinfestations, when the oxygen content is held below 1% for at least 12 days.  The thing you have to be careful of is the type of container you use.  Number 10 steel cans are an effective and reliable container.  Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE) has also proven to be an effective container to be used with oxygen absorber packets for disinfestation  (Broderick and others 2010), but for long term storage the buckets will breathe.  High-density polyethylene (HDPE) 5 gal buckets are very popular storage containers for dry foods.  Tests show that oxygen absorbers will not reliably keep the oxygen levels below 1% for 12 days unless you use Mylar bags.

Personally, I use Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers for any dry products I store in plastic buckets other than sugar or salt.  This is the best method to store your foods for long term storage and maintain peak nutrition.  I know it adds a small amount of cost, but when you need your storage it will be worth it.

Howard

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8 Responses to The Long term Bug Free Storage of Dry Foods

  1. david says:

    Also check on diatomaceous earth. I have not used it for food storage but reported to work well.

    • Prepared says:

      We add a little food-grade diatomaceous earth when storing grains and rice. Kills bugs dead and does not harm the food.
      BTW, we also dust it on our dogs. No more fleas or ticks. Seriously.

  2. Carla says:

    You said “I use Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers for any dry products I store in plastic buckets other than sugar or salt.” Why not sugar or salt? How do you store those?

    • admin says:

      I store sugar and salt in plastic buckets, but they do not require the Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. They store well long term as long as they are protected from moisture. Howard

  3. V says:

    When you say you use Myler bags, do you seal the product in the myler bags first, or just lime with Myler bags? How would that work for if you for example wanted to fill up a 56 gallon drum with rice? I’m new to this and wanted to start a drum of rice (Right now in New York rice is sold out in a lot of places, and there’s a limit of one bag per family in a lot of supermarkets where do you end up finding them.) right now in New York rice is sold out in a lot of places, and there’s a limit of one bag per family in a lot of supermarkets where do you end up finding them.

    • Noah says:

      The combination of a mylar bag inside a plastic bucket is best for food storage but as long as the bucket is made of food-grade plastic and sealed tightly, the bag isn’t necessary. Having said that and in answer to your question, line the bucket with the mylar bag and fill it with food. Add oxygen absorbers to prolong the shelf life and to kill off insect eggs that might be present. You can use a hot iron or a flatiron (used to straighten hair) to seal the mylar bag. However, I HIGHLY recommend you do not use a 56 gallon drum for food storage!! First, to my knowledge, there is no mylar bag that large (could be wrong, but I’ve never seen them). You’re much better off storing rice in much smaller containers. You can rotate through them more quickly and the rice will be much more accessible.

      As far as finding rice, you’ll have to keep an eye on your local grocery stores. They typically stock shelves overnight. If there continues to be a limit on how much you can buy at one time, you’ll have to make more frequent shopping trips.

      My suggestion is to figure out how much rice you will use per person, per day. If you want to have 30 days worth of rice and you’ll use 1 cup of cooked rice per person per day, you’ll need 1/3 cup of dry rice per person per day. For one person, 15 pounds of rice will give you a little more than a month’s worth. Hope this helps.

  4. Bre says:

    How much diatomaceous earth per 5 gallon bucket of rice or beans or grains do you use?

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