Best Long Term Food Containers For Preppers
It’s no secret that sifting through the endless variety of food containers, techniques, and storage methods can be a bit daunting. Those beginning a prepper journey (and even long-time survivalists) could use a helping hand when it comes to finding the best of the best. Keep reading to learn which food storage containers and treatment methods are ideal for a perfect prepper pantry.
The Importance of Dry Foods in Your Prepper Pantry
When you’re creating a pantry to get you through the long haul, selecting the right food products is the first step to success. Foods that contain higher levels of moisture tend to have a shorter shelf life than dry foods. Good candidates for long term food storage will have a moisture content of ten percent or less and be low in oil content.
Foods that are high in oils can end up going rancid in storage. For this reason, white rice will be good to go for up to 30 years, while its brown counterpart won’t last more than a year. You can select from a wide range of dry foods; wheat, corn, white rice, spelt, split peas, pastas, rolled oats, pinto, black, and kidney beans when getting started.
Dehydrated fruits and vegetables will work as well, but must be very low moisture and dry enough to snap. Some solid choices are dehydrated potatoes, celery, carrots, and onions.
Long-Term Storage for Dry Foods
Sure, white rice can last 30 years, but that doesn’t mean it will without some help from you. Knowing the most ideal storage containers will help keep that stockpile fresh. Let’s dive into some of the best methods for preserving survival foods.
Cans are the perfect option for long term storage of dry, shelf-stable, low-oil content foods. Just ensure they’re under that ten percent moisture mark! The foods inside will not react with the metal due to a food-grade enamel coating that lines inside of the can.
A number ten can is about 6 ¼ inches tall in diameter and can hold three quarts of liquid. The dry weight capacity of the can food storage will vary by specific contents. To put this in perspective, let’s look at the sizes of some cans we’re all pretty familiar with.
A can of wheat weighs 5.5 pounds, pinto beans are 5.2, and dry macaroni at 3 pounds. Essentially, the majority of your dried foods will fit in this food storage airtight container.
These containers for long term food storage have plenty of advantages for preppers. #10 cans will provide a complete moisture and oxygen barrier to protect the contents of the can. Most survivalists would say that ultimately, they’re the best choice for optimal long term dry food preservation.
Although they’ll make your prepper pantry easier to maintain, there are still a few things to look out for with #10 cans. Most importantly, cans may rust in humid environments. Once they do, they’re no longer guaranteed safe to eat. Additionally, reusing cans for food storage can be difficult; try repurposing them for other things instead.
Here at Crow Survival, we recommend protecting cans against moisture to prevent rust. To do this, try to avoid storing them in direct contact with concrete floors or walls. All foods packed in #10 cans, with the exception of sugar, should be packed with an oxygen absorber.
Taking out the oxygen will prevent insect infestation and preserve the quality of food.
Foil Pouches and Pouch Bags
If you’re out of cans, foil pouches and Mylar bags are the next best thing for food storage. These poches are made from several layers of laminated food-grade plastic and aluminum. You won’t have to worry about ingredients reacting to the aluminum, though, because it is separated by a thick plastic lining.
Make sure the pouches in your prepper pantry are high-quality and specifically intended to store food products.
Whether you’re making a small stockpile or attempting to store food 25 years, there are five or one gallon bags available. These bags are created in a variety of sizes – small enough to seal a pack of garden seeds or big enough for lining a 5-gallon bucket. Oxygen absorbers should also be included with the bags you purchase.
The main advantage of food storage in Mylar bags is that they will protect from both moisture and insects. Upon absorbing that air, seal the bag with a clothes or hair iron.
Just like #10 cans, these prepper bags aren’t always convenient. Remember that pouches aren’t rodent-proof. Plus, food storage in Mylar bags is more fragile than cans or plastic buckets and must be handled carefully. Anticipate that your pouch-stored foods will have a shorter shelf life than those in cans.
One of the best storage tips for food storage bags is to keep them inside of a plastic tote, bucket, or metal garbage can to increase protection against rodents. Don’t allow these pouches to come in contact with concrete floors or walls. Lastly, preppers can place the bags inside of boxes for easier storage and stacking.
PETE Plastic Bottles
Anyone familiar with food storage for preppers may know that plastic can be a bit tricky. Dry foods should only be stored in clean PETE (polyethylene terephthalate). Other plastic bottles likely won’t provide an adequate moisture or oxygen barrier.
PETE bottles will have “PETE” or “PET” under the recyclable symbol on the bottom of the bottle. This may come as a surprise, but fruit juice and soda pop bottles are good options for longer-term storage. Never use ones that previously contained non-food items.
Before putting them to use, be sure those bottles are thoroughly cleaned out. If the lid has an inset, remove that and clean it as well. Most preppers recommend sanitizing bottles with a weak chlorine bleach solution so that nothing is able to grow.
Then, allow them to air dry for several days, ensuring they’re fully dry before being put to use. So, what makes PETE bottles so great? They’re an optimal choice for storing grains and legumes.
Plus, they can be sued for water storage. Whatever you choose to store inside, these bottles are small and easy to manage. However, you might run into some hiccups as well.
Keep in mind that there is a slow transmission of oxygen through the plastic over time, so they will not maintain quality for as long as #10 cans do. If PETE bottles aren’t protected from light, the food inside could also degrade.
Light and oxygen aren’t the only obstacles when using PETE bottles. Rodents can sometimes chew through the thin plastic. Additionally, it takes a bit of your best prepper patience and effort to funnel the grain into the bottle’s neck and shake it down in order to eliminate dead air space.
It’s recommended to use one oxygen absorber packet per gallon of food containing ten percent moisture or less.
PETE bottles can be great, but what if your stockpile requires a bit more space to store food long term? Food-grade plastic buckets with gasket seals are solid candidates for grain storage. Just be sure to never use a plastic bucket that contained non-food items or is not made of food-grade plastic.
Storing individually packaged items like bags of pasta, salt, baking powder, powdered sugar, and a variety of other items in plastic buckets can optimize space and preserve ingredients for longer.
Buckets are great because they provide an extra layer of protection from critters, prevent packaging from absorbing moisture in the storage room, and help to maintain freshness. Not to mention, this food for storage emergency option is uber inexpensive for storing large amounts of dry products long-term. The buckets, as well as some lids, can be reused many times.
Plastic buckets are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. While they restrict some of the air going in, plastic buckets are not a true oxygen barrier. There is a slow transmission of oxygen through the polyethylene walls of the container over time.
Some leaching of plastic into the food may also occur, but this isn’t harmful. You may consider lining the bucket with a Mylar bag if it’s a concern. When using re-purposed buckets, they may come with some lingering odors.
While these scents aren’t harmful, it is possible for the food to absorb the odor. Wheat that smells more like a jar of pickles just doesn’t sit right with us. Just be very careful about what to store in re-purposed buckets.
When storing them, keep your buckets at least one-half inch off the floor on pallets or boards. This will promote good air circulation and keep them off the concrete. Additionally, be sure not to stack over three buckets high to prevent tipping and breaking the lids on lower buckets.
Once you’ve got ‘em stacked, make sure they’re protected from both direct and indirect light. Keep checking your buckets periodically for integrity.
Plastic can be uber convenient, but every good prepper has a variety of options on hand for food storage long-term. Glass jars are a fantastic reusable option for storing dry goods both long and short term. This storage method is incredible for daily use of food storage, as well.
Consider purchasing specialty salts and sugars, spices, seeds, and other dry goods in bulk and storing them in glass jars. Make sure to keep all dried fruits, veggies, and herbs in there too. You may want to go with some fancy and expensive canning jars, but repurposed PB or spaghetti sauce jars work just as well.
Glass jars are the optimal food storage containers for pantry because they’re available in a variety of sizes and shapes, allowing survivalists more flexibility when storing. Not to mention, reusing them for many years is no issue. Since they’re non-permeable, air and water isn’t able to seep through. Unlike plastic, glass will not harbor bacteria in the glass or leach onto the food product.
Just like all food storage methods, glass jars come with their quirks and kinks. For one, glass is obviously fragile which can make it difficult to keep safe in survival situations. Light can also deteriorate food within glass bottles.
Colored food storage glass containers can help reduce or eliminate this issue, but clear ones are much more widely available. Most food preppers recommend storing glass jars in a protected environment away from light. Your bottles would love sitting on some shelves in a dark storage room.
If you’re looking to reduce light intake, re-purpose some old socks by cutting them into sleeves for more protection and shade. If you’ve got some empty glass jars around the house, might as well fill them with water! They take up the same amount of space whether they’re full or empty, so why not have some extra H2o on hand?
PS. Don’t forget to pick up some food storage plastic container lids to top them.
Keeping Dry, Stored Foods Fresh
Even with the best food storage containers available, keeping foods fresh for the long-term isn’t always easy. Luckily, Crow Survival has got your back. Let’s go over some tips and tricks to preserve your prepper pantry.
One of the biggest issues that comes with food storage for preppers is critters. Weevils, beetles, moths, and other pests have a tendency to infest, contaminate, destroy, and consume food. Insects come in various life stages and will require special handling to destroy each stage.
Storing food in a container with an oxygen-free environment will eliminate insects in all stages. Aside from storing them properly, how can preppers eliminate pests?
Dry ice treatment is the preferred method for dry food products packaged for long term storage in plastic buckets. If you’re not sure how it works, dry ice is a form of carbon dioxide (co2) that is available in most grocery stores. Those storing grains and legumes in plastic buckets should pick some up for their survival supply.
It will control most adult and larval stage insects, but unfortunately not eggs or pupae. Multiple applications will be necessary if there is an infestation. Purchasing quality grain from a trusted source is a way to avoid bug problems.
If you need to treat more than once, be sure to wait two-three weeks for insects to mature from surviving eggs and pupae. This way, you can banish those critters once and for all! To treat your food, use one ounce of fry ice per gallon of food or two-three ounces in a five-gallon bucket.
Dust off any ice crystals and wrap the dry ice in a paper towel to prevent it from burning the food it comes in contact with. Add three-four inches of grain to the bucket and set the lid on the top without fully sealing. Leave the bucket askew for thirty minutes to an hour.
Do not seal until after the dry ice has been completely sublimated. Keep an eye on the lid for a few minutes, ensuring the thing doesn’t bulge up. In the case that it does, open and release the pressure.
Once that pressure is gone and the lid is no longer bulging, your food should be safe.
Playing with dry ice seems like a fun experiment, but what else can protect and preserve a survival stockpile? Oxygen absorbers work by physically removing oxygen from the container’s atmosphere and killing adult insects, also taking out any larval insects. They are simply small packets containing iron powder.
Their material allows oxygen and moisture to enter but does not let the iron powder leak out. Any moisture in the food will cause the iron to rust, oxidizing and absorbing oxygen. Oxygen absorbers are more effective at eliminating air than any vacuum packaging.
Air is about 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen. Since the packets absorb only oxygen, all the remaining air is nitrogen. Luckily for us preppers, nitrogen doesn’t allow insects to grow.
This technique is the preferred treatment method for dry products packaged in containers that provide sufficient moisture and oxygen barriers (think glass jars, foil pouches, and #10 cans). To use, place the new oxygen absorber into the container and seal it within 20 minutes. A single 300-500cc oxygen absorber will treat a one-gallon container.
All of your unused packets should go in a sealed container with the air removed for future use. One thing to keep in mind about oxygen absorbers is they won’t work for plastic buckets. They depend on the absence of oxygen to kill insects, and plastic buckets are not a true oxygen barrier.
For plastic buckets, it’s best to refer back to the dry ice method.
Freezing Long-Term Foods
Even if you’re not a prepper, freezing ingredients is a hack that can save everyone tons of waste and cash on the grocery bill. Storing food in the freezer is a solid treatment method for smaller packages that can easily fit in there. Think of a five pound bag of flour or cereal.
Freezing your food will kill live pests, but you’ll still need to keep an eye out for insect eggs. You may need to facilitate multiple freezing and warming cycles in order to kill all insects and hatching eggs. To start this process, place your food bags in the freezer for two or three days, then allow them to gradually warm for 24 hours.
With a freezer full of survival foods, you’ll be set for the long term!
Now that you know all the best options for food storage long term, let the stockpiling begin! Whether you’re hoarding plastic bins, glass jars, or cans, your food is sure to stay safe for years. Before jumping in the car to seek out dry ice and oxygen absorbers, check out some more content from Crow Survival for all the prepper tips and tricks.