Long Term Storage in Zip Lock Baggies

by Rodney Boyette
(Dillon, SC USA)


Is it safe to put dry foods like: rice, beans, grains, cereals, oatmeal in zip lock baggies for individual servings to store for long periods of time in 5 gallon white plastic cans?

ANSWER:

Yes, it is "safe" but it won't work for long term storage. Zip Lock baggies are not air tight. For the longest shelf life, the food needs to be vacuum packed or sealed with oxygen absorbers inside.

So you must decide: are you storing for long term, or are you using those foods on a regular basis?

If you are storing for long term, foods must be sealed with O2s or vacuum packed.

If you are using the foods on a regular basis, there is no need for even sealing them. We have a couple of 5-gallon buckets of oatmeal that we just keep in the basement in a cool, dark place. There are no O2s or Mylar bags, and they are not really sealed because we use the oatmeal often.

We keep a smaller container in the pantry full of oatmeal and just make a trip to the basement to fill it from the bucket. The oatmeal will keep for months just fine. This is true of rice, beans, grains, and cereals (as long as they're not box cereals from the grocery store).

As long as you are using the food products, there is no need to seal them up with O2s, but long term, you need them.

Comments for Long Term Storage in Zip Lock Baggies

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Prepackaged cerals & Other Prepackaged Items
by: Rodney Boyette

What are the expiration dates for prepackaged cerals? What other prepackaged items are not to be used for long time storage? Pastas, Canned Veggies, Canned Meats, Dried fruits, Bottled Juices, Bottled Water, etc?

ANSWER:
Rodney, everything you buy at the grocery store has a "use by" or "sell by" date. These dates are good to note as they tell you how fresh the product is, but the dates for mainly for the store. Most of these food products can be stored longer than that date, but it is best to use them in your 3-month supply or regular food supply and rotate often. (Which is why you should only store what you will eat and what you like.)

I usually keep 2 backups of every food product I use on a regular basis, which means that a product may sometimes be on my pantry shelf for at least a year, depending on the food and whether it has been opened or not.

For instance, I have a large jar of peanut butter in the pantry, being used. But downstairs in the basement, I have 2 more jars - unopened and kept in a cool environment. They will be fine for a year or 2. When the jar in the pantry is empty, I'll grab another from the basement and buy another jar to replace it. (I also date each one.)

I can only tell you to use your best judgement. Foods with some type of oil in them that are not vacuum packed can become rancid. Canned goods are all vacuum packed.

Cake mixes, cereals - boxed food products are not vacuum sealed, although they are sealed in their box. But they will not last as long as canned goods. The exception would be rice and pasta as they are dehydrated and will last a long time in their packages.

I guess a pretty good general rule would be that everything in bottles or cans will have a longer shelf life than food packaged in boxes or bags (unless they are obviously vacuum packed).

I hope this helps, Rodney.

Many thanks
by: Rodney

Greetings and many thanks to you for your replies they are very very helpful. I will start shopping for a vacuum sealer today. Where do I shop for the CO2 absorbers to put in each vacuum sealed bag?

ANSWER:

Thank you, Rodney. I'm glad I could give you some information you can use.

Look on this page: Using Oxygen Absorbers and click on a link or the photo. It will take you to the Nitro-Pak website. The O2 absorbers are not very expensive - and, they appear to be on sale today.

You might also want to check out the Food Saver I mention on this page: Dehydrating Food. I have one of these and I absolutely LOVE it. I seal up everything with it.

Thanks for asking questions, Rodney. They certainly help all of us learn more.

Storing Cereal
by: Dee

For my LONG term food storage, how long will cereals like Raisin Bran, Froot Loops, and Apple Jacks last if I take them out of their original package,vacuum seal them and put them in a mylar bag with an 02 absorber in them?

RESPONSE:

I'm not sure but not as long as wheat, oats, or any other cereal in the raw. But you may find that if you vacuum seal those kinds of cereal, you'll end up with almost powdered cereal. Vacuum packaging will smash them to powder - especially the flakes in raisin brown.

I vacuum packed a loaf of bread once. LOL - smashed bread. There's a lot of air in those kinds of cereals, as well as bread.

How Long is Long Term?
by: Bri

So I have several quart sized ziploc bags of beans, quinoa, and rice that I have been storing for almost a year. Are these items no longer good because ziploc isn't air tight? And about how long do you think these items would last in ziploc baggies?

RESPONSE:

The foods you mentioned are already very dehydrated so should last several years. If you want them to last longer than that, I would repackage with O2 absorbers or vacuum seal them. They will last about 25 years in an oxygen-free package.

If you don't want to repackage them, just rotate them into your daily menus, even if it's over a year or so.

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