After opening a large container of dehydrated or freeze dried food, the remaining food should be stored in an oxygen depleted environment. The enemies of food storage are oxygen, moisture, heat (above room temperature) and sunlight. Some foods can be stored for 30 years or more.
Suitable containers for dehydrated food include:
- Mason jars,
- P.E.T.E jars (video), and
- other glass jars such as jelly jars that have a metal lid with gasket, (plastic lids are slightly porous)
- Mylar bags if properly sealed (requires some skill and technique).
Plastic bags are not suitable for long term storage because plastic allows some oxygen to enter the bag over time. Mylar bags are metalized and do not leak.
If the normal oxygen level is left in the container, the food will soon spoil.
Some techniques for removing oxygen and moisture from small containers. include:
- oxygen absorber packages,
- vacuum packing using a FoodSaver (video1), (video2)
- vacuum packing using a Pump-N-Seal (manual, no electricity or batteries needed)
- vacuum packing using a ZipLock bag vacuum pump (manual, no electricity or batteries needed)
The FoodSaver (electricity required) will remove oxygen from Mason jars when used with a separately purchased jar lid accessory (two sizes, regular and widemouth). Make sure the lid and jar top are free of food dust before vacuuming.
Another vacuum sealing method that does not require electricity can be used with Mason jars, P.E.T.E. jars or other glass jars with gasketed lids. This method uses a manual vacuum pump such as the Pump-N-Seal or ZipLock bag pump. Use a thumb tack to put a small hole in the lid. Cover the hole with a Pump-N-Seal tab chek, or with the homemade version as described by Judy Of The Woods. Cover the tab chek with the vacuum Pump-N-Seal (or ZipLock bag pump) and work the handle.
The Pump-N-Seal can be used to seal Mylar bags.
Mason jars have the advantage of providing verification of vacuum. Push down on the lid. If the lid moves and clicks the vacuum has been lost and needs to be established again.
Use caution when using oxygen absorbers. When oxygen absorbers are removed from their original packaging they need to be repackaged as soon as possible by putting them into a small airtight container such as a Mason jar or P.E.T.E. jar. If carelessly left unpackaged they will soon lose their oxygen absorbing capability. After 4 hours of exposure they are expired (reference).