Dried foods, including dehydrated vegetables, fruits, flours and beans, provide the beginnings of a well-stocked pantry. Different foods store well for different lengths of time, depending on how much moisture they naturally contain and the way you store them. Proper storage ensures these foods retain their quality and flavor without spoiling prematurely.
As Time Goes By
Dry flours contain natural oils, which can go rancid over an extended period, only store well for six to eight months. Dried fruits still contain some moisture, so they only retain their quality for about six months, while vegetables, which dry completely, store well for up to a year. Plan to use the food within six months if you are unsure of the exact storage length recommendations of a specific item.
A Well-Wrapped Package
The original airtight packaging often provides the best storage option. Good packaging keeps out moisture, air and pests. If you are packaging your own dried foods or the store packaging seems flimsy, place them in tightly sealed bags with the air pressed out. Food-grade storage buckets or glass jars also work well for long-term storage. Date the packages and make sure to use them within the recommended storage time.
A Room of Its Own
Dried foods typically store best in a cool, dark pantry at temperatures of less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooler temperatures can help prolong storage life, while warmer temperatures shorten it. Heat and bright light can cause the foods to spoil more quickly or ruin their quality and flavor. Avoid storing dry foods in damp areas. The dampness may invade the containers and cause the food to spoil more quickly.
Dried foods commonly also freeze well. This can prolong their lives indefinitely, although it's still best to use them within a year for best quality. Dispose of dried food if it becomes slimy, develops mold growth or produces a foul odor. Moisture in the storage container often indicates spoilage, and you must dispose of the food promptly. Divide large amounts of dried foods and package them in multiple small containers. If moisture gets into a small container, only a small amount of food spoils.
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