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Long-Term Food Storage | Best Containers and Storage Tips to Preserve Your Precious Stockpile

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

With unpredictable disasters on the rise, it's important to be equipped for any emergency situation. That doesn't mean emptying out your wallet in one go – start small and budget a little each week towards stocking up supplies that could ultimately help save you or those around you.


You can make even better use of preserving groceries by investing in good quality long-term food storage containers; you want to have your food storage staying safe and sound until it’s time to consume it.


Being prepared for the future begins with stockpiling, and 5-gallon buckets offer an economical method to do just that. Mylar bags provide extra protection within each bucket, blocking out factors such as light and oxygen which can reduce food storage shelf life. Food stored in this way can remain edible up to 20 years! If you are serious about prepping it is smart move - so let's get bucketing!


Which foods are ideal for storing long term?


Securing a reliable food supply starts with selecting the right products. Aim for items lower in moisture and oil as they tend to last longer - white rice can store up to three decades, while brown rice has an expiration of fewer than 12 months! Moisture content should stay below 10%, and foods rich in oils are susceptible to spoilage quicker.


Here are some examples of the best choices for long-term food storage:


​GRAINS

LEGUMES

wheat

pinto beans

rolled oats

black beans

quinoa

white beans

rye

kidney beans

millet

lentils

grits

split peas

dry pasta

lima beans

spelt

black-eye peas

corn

navy beans

white rice

chickpeas

Long-Term Storage of Grains and Legumes


Properly packaging grains and legumes for long-term storage requires a few simple steps.

  1. First, inspect the food to ensure it is clean and free of any pests or contaminants.

  2. Once satisfactory, choose an airtight container that prevents moisture from spoiling your product's shelf life.

  3. Make use of oxygen absorbers to create an even lower oxygen atmosphere in the package while preventing damage from bugs and insects and preserving the quality of your food over time

  4. Ideal storage conditions include cool temperatures, a dry environment, darkness and low moisture content (less than 10%).

  5. To ensure optimal preservation of your buckets, keep them stored at 75°F (23°C) or lower temperatures.

  6. Make sure you don't go the cheaper route by using non-food grade buckets for food - they can contain potentially harmful chemicals which may contaminate the contents.

  7. For ideal conditions make sure you line the buckets with mylar bags as a failsafe measure.

  8. Don't store buckets directly on a concrete floor. Potentially harmful chemicals could be transferred through and on top of that the components in concrete can actually weaken plastic - so make sure your bucket stays safe and away from those floors!

  9. Mylar bags alone won't live long if you are visited by mice or rodents so be sure to place them in buckets for extra protection.

 

Benefits of Using Food-Safe Bins with Gamma Lids


When it comes to storing food and other bulk items, there's no better way than using food-safe bins with gamma lids. Not only do these bins provide a secure and airtight seal, but they also make rotating food storage easier and more convenient. These convenient plastic screw-on lids make accessing stored items much simpler and can put an end to nail-breaking battles with traditional bucket covers. Gamma seal lids provide a simple twist-and-lock function, making it easy to securely close your buckets. The innovative groove design even allows for convenient stacking of multiple containers. Buckets can be purchased with the lids already attached, or you can buy them separately and attach them to other containers.


How To Properly Store Bulk Items With A Gamma Lid Bin


Make sure that the bin is clean and dry before use, then follow all label instructions for best results when storing bulk items. It's also important to check on the contents regularly in order to ensure that everything is still fresh and safe for consumption.

Installing a Gamma Seal lid will provide airtight protection to your bucket, but it isn't as simple as just screwing the top on! To ensure perfect installation and make sure nothing can get in or out of the container, you'll need a mallet. The lid comes in two parts: one is easily screwed onto the edge of your bucket while another snaps into place with the help of the mallet (take care not to use a hammer!)


Are Gamma Buckets and Lids Food Grade?


Gamma Lids are often made from food-grade plastics, but it's essential to verify that your lid is indeed suitable for use with food. To confirm, contact the manufacturer or check their website—make sure they state explicitly that their buckets and lids are safe for storing edibles. A quick glance at the bottom of any bucket will tell you if it’s a certified food-safe item; look out for the recycling symbol (a triangular shape) which includes an identifier number revealing what type of plastic has been used in creating this product.

Here are the different types of plastics and their corresponding numbers:

1 - Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)

2 - High-density polyethylene (HDPE)

3 - Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or Vinyl)

4 - Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

5 - Polypropylene (PP)

6 - Polystyrene (PS or Styrofoam)

7 - Other: Plastics labeled as "number 7" are a bit more perplexing. It's impossible to determine their safety level simply by looking at the number; while some could be considered safe, others may not meet standards for food contact, so more research is required in this case.

Which Plastics are Food Grade?

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) - Nr. 02: the most commonly used plastic - it has been a staple of households for years, most notably in the form of cereal box liners, juice containers and milk jugs.


Polypropylene (PP) - Nr. 05: also commonly used for reusable food storage containers and single-serving tubs. It shields against damaging moisture, light and heat and will keep perishables fresh for up to a year


Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) -Nr. 01: generally used for thicker food containers, like 2-liter soda bottles, peanut butter jars and salad dressing bottles. PET resin is stable, so it resists microorganisms like bacteria, as well as corrosion.



Common Misconceptions About Food-Grade Plastic Buckets


Despite its safety rating, there are some common misconceptions about using plastic buckets for storing foods. For example, many people mistakenly believe that using plastic containers can cause leaching of toxins into their stored items. While this is theoretically possible if exposed to extreme temperatures or other conditions, studies have shown that this type of leaching does not occur under normal circumstances when using FDA-approved materials like HDPE.

All in all, when it comes to storing food long-term, plastic buckets are a great option. They are cost-effective, readily available and easy to work with – plus they generally meet all government regulations regarding contact with foods. Before investing in any type of container for long-term storage purposes though, make sure to research which types are considered “food grade” and follow any relevant local or state guidelines when handling these types of containers. With careful consideration and proper care taken when selecting quality products from reliable suppliers – you should have no problem storing your food supplies for up to 20 years or more.


Storing Food Buckets for Optimum Preservation

To keep buckets safe, and to avoid moisture damage, it's wise practice to support them on sturdy shelving such as 2x4s rather than directly placing them onto concrete or touching walls. Storing your buckets a few inches off the ground is key to keeping their contents as fresh as possible. By elevating them, you ensure that the temperature of the food inside is less likely to vary widely compared to the room temperature. Plus, harmful chemical components in concrete can actually weaken plastic and potentially contaminate the contents - so make sure your bucket stays safe and away from those floors!


For practical reasons it's important not to stack your buckets too high - no more than three high - because five gallons of food can be downright heavy and precarious.


Labeling your Buckets and Mylar Bags


Preserving your food in buckets is an essential step, but don't forget to label them too! Be sure to date and name each container so you can keep track of when they were packed. Rotating out older items from your supply will ensure that the contents are all fresh - plus it's a lot easier if everything is labeled properly with their expiration info on hand at a glance.


It's best to store single food groups in separate containers, as mixing them can lead to unexpected and unpleasant flavor combinations. I once made the mistake of storing rice in a container that previously housed pickles - trust me - no one wants pickle-flavored rice!


Use the FIFO Food Storage Method


Ensuring food is always at its freshest and minimising spoilage is key to any kitchen. The FIFO or First-In, First-Out system of stock rotation makes sure that nothing gets forgotten about in the back. To keep food supplies well organized and rotated, many households utilize 5 Gallon buckets to store staples such as salt, sugar, rice, pasta and beans. As these are consumed, the oldest bucket is emptied first before refilling it with fresh stock. A large tupperware container of everyday items – like dried pasta or sugar - can be kept in the kitchen for regular use; once this runs empty one simply needs to go back down into the long-term storage for more from an older batch. By stocking your pantry with items you typically consume, and cycling them out before expiration dates arrive, nothing edible is left to waste.


Going the extra mile with oxygen absorbers and mylar bags


Dry food storage is made much more efficient with the use of oxygen absorbers. Simply place your dry foods into a food-grade bucket, add the correct amount of absorbers according to the size of the bucket and seal it tight. Most normal food buckets are not airtight so will leak over time. Investing in a gamma seal lid to ensure an effective seal for long-term storage is recommended if you want your goods preserved at their best quality. Of course, if you open up the bucket, you will have to replace the oxygen absorbers and reseal it, so many people prefer to make use of mylar bags with Having oxygen absorbers and mylar bags in your food storage buckets is an excellent way to ensure that your stored food lasts for a long time. Oxygen absorbers work by creating oxygen-free atmospheres in packaged food where oxygen is kept out, thus preventing spoilage. Mylar bags are heat-sealable plastic bags designed to contain oxygen and act as oxygen barriers, further increasing the shelf life of your stored items. In combination, oxygen absorbers together with mylar bags create the best possible environment for long-term food preservation, allowing you to keep your stored foods safe from spoilage for extended periods of time.


Make sure to label each bag with the exact type of food, plus when it was packed - this will help you stay on top of rotation and ensure that none are forgotten! Plus, while labeling might seem like an extra step now, it'll save time (and possible frustration) down the road in the long run.

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