A consistent temperature between 40 and 60 degrees is ideal for food storage, and temperatures below freezing should be avoided.
FREMONT, CA: There are numerous advantages to developing the practice of storing food, and these advantages include everything from money savings to maintaining a healthy diet throughout the year. Above all, understanding how to make the most of food storage can reduce worry and provide peace of mind.
Food storage is a time-honored domestic technique that has been practiced for thousands of years in times of abundance to prepare for times of famine or scarcity. After 4000 years, wheat found in jars in Egyptian tombs was still edible. As households attempt to be self-sufficient, food is preserved and stored regularly to be enjoyed from harvest to harvest.
Factors That Influence Food Storage
Temperature: The temperature at which food is stored has a significant impact on how long it lasts. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, every 10.8-degree increase in temperature reduces the shelf life of stored food by half. A consistent temperature between 40 and 60 degrees is ideal for food storage, and temperatures below freezing should be avoided.
When storing food, moisture must be removed. Foods should have a moisture level of 10 percent or less for long-term storage.
Foods that are oxygen-free store the best. Compounds in meals will not oxidize if oxygen is removed. Methods for removing oxygen include:
Displacing Oxygen: Use an inert gas to purge air from the product (nitrogen). Dry ice is frequently utilized because it emits carbon dioxide, which displaces oxygen.
Oxygen Absorber: Air contains about 78 percent nitrogen and 21 percent oxygen, leaving about 1 percent for the other gasses. If the oxygen is absorbed, only 99 percent pure nitrogen in a partial vacuum remains.
Light: Light is a type of energy that has the potential to impair the nutritional content of foods. Food should be kept in the dark place.
Food should be stored in food-grade plastic, metal, or glass containers that do not contain chemicals that could be transferred to food and damage health. Use containers with a hermetic (airtight) seal for the longest storage life. The following containers have airtight seals:
- Sealable food storage buckets.
- Foil pouches.
- Sealable food quality metal (lined) or plastic drums.
- PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles (for dry products like wheat, corn, and beans).