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Sunday, January 9, 2011

A bit on Shelf Life of foods

By Joseph Parish

Many people have asked me about the shelf life of various foods which survivalists often store in their emergency pantry. From my experience I would suggest the following guidelines be followed.

First let’s talk about powdered milk. It lasts longer when stored in the coolest location you can find. It should generally be used within a three year period of being purchased. Supposedly it should be acceptable for as many as 20 years when stored in a cool, dark, dry and airtight location and maintained in an oxygen free environment. I personally have had powdered milk stored for up to 10 years and it is just as good now as when it was originally stored. The key was to keep it oxygen free. Usually most families don’t keep it that long since they use and rotate their stock. A word of caution here is that powdered milk is sensitive to excessive heat so be careful.

As far as powdered eggs are concerned it is recommended that you not keep them for any extended length of time. In support of this Brigham Young University conducted a series of tests on powdered eggs which they had stored for 30 some years and discovered that they do not store very well after the first year. It is recommended that you place your powdered eggs in the freezer in order to enhance their shelf life.

Just as the powdered milk shelf life is effected by the temperature so also is that of home canned butter. Usually the home version of butter will keep well for approximately two years at which time it will develop an unusual taste. It can then be used for cooking but would be just about useless for spreading on a slice of bread. If you keep it in your basement where it is extra cool you may be able to extend its shelf life greatly.

Now let’s talk a bit about storing oil. When you get ready to accumulate your supply of oil make sure that you start out with good quality oil, this is the first requirement for a long shelf life. It is unlikely that a brand named oil will go rancid and I personally have kept some for as much as eight to ten years. When storing oil it needs to be stored in a fairly cool and dark location for the longest possible shelf life. You would also do well to store up on the smaller containers of oil such as the 48 ounce bottles rather then the larger ones. Keep in mind that once the older bottles are opened they will quickly oxidize and go rancid. 

Freeze dried fruits and vegetables generally have a projected shelf life of 25 years if unopened. Once these storage cans are opened they should last for up to one year but the exact amount of time will depend upon the humidity where you live. A higher humidity will shorten the shelf life greatly. Likewise canned meats will last for 25 years as well. It is always best that once a number ten can has been opened it should be used up within a two week period. 

White rice will is one of those staples which last forever. They just seem to have no shelf life what so ever. Baking powder as well as baking soda store well when kept dry. Research has indicated that 30 year old baking powder will leavened just as well as fresh if stored properly. Once it is opened be certain to keep it in a dry location or it will lose a considerable amount of its leavening affect.

Copyright @2010 Joseph Parish

1 comment:

  1. Because I live in Canada & could not find oxygen absorbers & mylar bags, etc...I have kept my flour & powdered milk in the freezer along with oatbran, cornmeal, etc.

    Have I damaged their quality and will I have to do anything special if I bring them out to repackage now that I have finally found a Canadian supplier of oxygen absorbers & mylar bags?

    Thanks so much!