There’s a lot of confusion about food storage methods out there! When is it appropriate to use mylar bags vs. vacuum packing vs. glass jars? Let’s unpack this and let me explain “Long Term Food Storage: How to Pack Food in Mylar Bags”.
Food can be stored short-term or long-term.
Short-term should be considered 12 months or less. However, storing food for the long-term using mylar bags, when done correctly, can keep food fresh for 25+ years!
Vacuum-packing and mason jars are very appropriate for short-term food storage. Your food will keep just fine in vacuum-sealed containers, whether they be jars or the plastic bags that are made for the Food Saver.
The Food Saver has this handy little attachment for mason jars, both wide and regular mouth, so that you can re-seal your jar of food once you’ve finished using it! I love that and use mine all the time!
But for long-term storage, meaning up to 20+ years, you need to use a system involving mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.
Let me explain why.
Enemies of Food Storage
Once you understand how food deteriorates, the process of using mylar bags and oxygen absorbers will make sense to you.
At least 4 things cause food to deteriorate:
Of course, we need oxygen to live and breath, but it’s not so good for stored food. In the presence of oxygen, food will deteriorate quickly.
Ever notice when someone leaves a bag of cereal open overnight and how stale it gets? Yep, that’s because of oxygen, the cereal was oxidized.
How Does Oxidation Affect Food?
When food is exposed to oxygen, it begins to deteriorate immediately.
Discoloring, bruising, stale flavors, rancidity, yellowing/browning and loss of nutrients are just a few examples of oxidation to food.
Oxidation also allows contaminants like micro-organisms, fungi/molds/mildew, bugs/larvae and even worms to invade our food!
The best way to remove oxygen is to use oxygen absorbers in your storage containers! We’ll discuss those further in just a bit.
Light also causes food to deteriorate. This is why it’s important for long-term food storage that food be kept in a dark place.
When you’re talking about shorter term food storage, you’ll still want to store your containers/mason jars in a dark cabinet or pantry, although light will still get to them every time you use them.
And then there’s heat.
Your food pantry should be between 50-70 degrees to keep your stored food at it’s freshest. Fluctuations in food pantry temperatures can compromise your stores!
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How to Use Mylar Bags and Oxygen Absorbers
The only material that will keep light and oxygen out of your stored food is metal, which is why mylar bags work so well for long-term food storage!
Used in conjunction with oxygen absorbers, mylar bags can keep your food fresh for 25+ years!
Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers come in many sizes, and are usually sold separately. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for what size absorber to use with what size bag.
BONUS: When you store food in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, the food’s aging process stop immediately! As you rotate your food storage and you see that a dry product is due to expire before you will use it, put it in a mylar bag! When you re-open the bag to use your food, the aging process will begin again.
Learning how to use mylar bags to your advantage will significantly reduce food waste!
How to Store Rice in Mylar Bags
Bulk grain (I like Azure Standard and Costco for my bulk grain)
Oxygen absorbers (500 cc are acceptable for one-gallon bags)
Mylar bags (one gallon)
Hair iron (unless you’re using a re-sealable mylar bag)
5 gallon buckets and gamma lids
I like to buy my grains in bulk when I’m planning to store them for the long-term. White rice tends to store better than brown rice.
Get your supplies ready because you’ll need to work quickly.
Once you open the oxygen absorbers, store them in a mason jar with a lid immediately, until you are ready to use them.
Heat up your hair iron, I’m using an old flat iron that my daughter left when she went to college.
Fill each mylar bag about 3/4 full with rice.
When your iron is hot, open the lid to the oxygen absorbers and put one in your mylar bag quickly. Put the lid back on the jar of oxygen absorbers until you’re ready to do another bag.
Working quickly, seal the edges of the mylar bag together with the iron. It will seal easily with the hair iron.
Then store the mylar bags in a food-grade, 5-gallon bucket. The bag will begin to “shrink” as the oxygen absorbers do their job.
Put a gamma lid on the buckets and you’re finished! Your rice will keep for 25+ years!
What Foods Store Best in Mylar Bags?
This is a list of foods that store well in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers:
- Dehydrated fruit/veggies
- Potato flakes
- Trail mix
- Powdered milk, juice
- Pet food
- Wheat berries
- Dried corn
- Chick peas
- Corn meal
- Freeze-dried egg
- Non dairy creamer
- Bread mixes*
- Cake mixes*
- Tortilla mix*
- Ramen noodles
- Dehydrated soups
- Bouillon cubes
* just add water version
FAQ’s for Storing Food in Mylar Bags
Can I leave dry foods like beans or rice in it’s original packaging?
Yes! You can place dry foods that are in original paper or plastic packaging directly into the mylar bags. However, it’s important to release any oxygen inside the package by poking holes into the original packaging. The oxygen absorbers will take care of the rest!
Can I store coffee beans in a mylar bag?
Coffee beans tend to give off gas, but they can be stored long-term in mylar.
Do I need to use mylar bags to store salt or sugar?
No. Salt and sugar do not go bad and do not need a long-term storage process.
Can mice eat through mylar bags?
Yes, they can. This is why it’s important to store mylar bags inside of a 5-gallon bucket. It is possible for mice to chew through 5-gallon buckets, but much less likely.
So, don’t hesitate to try your hand at long-term storage with mylar bags! It’s one of the best ways to store food long-term!